Sumitra Mahajan Will Not Contest Lok Sabha Polls
With the Bharatiya Janata Party appearing to be in a dilemma over fielding her, outgoing Lok Sabha speaker and eight-time Member of Parliament from Indore, Sumitra Mahajan opted out of contesting the general elections. She also said that she had freed the party to make its choice.
Informing reporters in Indore that she had written to BJP chief Amit Shah about her decision of not contesting the polls, she said, "I have made the party worry-free."
Mahajan, who turns 76 next Friday, said there had been speculations whether the party would field someone who has crossed the 75-year age bar.
"There were speculations and so I decided to end them and free the party to make its choice. I will not contest the Lok Sabha elections," she told PTI.
Mahajan, popularly known as 'Tai' (elder sister in Marathi) however, maintained that she would continue to work for the party and campaign for it.
"The party (BJP) had not been able to name a candidate (from Indore Lok Sabha seat) for so many days and there were speculations if someone over 75 years of age will be fielded. So I decided to end all this," she said.
BJP president Amit Shah had in an interview to The Week magazine on Thursday stated that it was his party's decision not to give Lok Sabha poll tickets to those above 75 years of age, leading to veteran leaders like LK Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi missing out. Though he had not named Mahajan, the outgoing Lok Sabha speaker too falls in the same age bracket.
Mahajan was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Indore in 1989 and has won all the seven consecutive elections. She was a minister of state in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, holding portfolios of human resources development, telecom and petroleum between 1999 and 2004.
When the BJP swept to power again in 2014, she was named the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, becoming only the second woman to hold the post.
Mahajan also issued a short press statement questioning why the party has not been able to name a candidate till now.
"Possibly the party is hesitating to take a decision. I had discussed this issue with senior party leaders and left it to them to take an appropriate decision," she said, adding, "It seems they still have some doubts in their mind. So I declare that I do not wish to contest the Lok Sabha elections."
The party, she said, can now make its decision without any hesitation.
The BJP has, till now, declared 18 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, which has 29 Lok Sabha seats.
Stating that she had received immense love and support from people of Indore, Mahajan hoped the BJP would quickly make up its mind for its candidate from the seat and end this uncertainty.
During the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections last year, the BJP had denied nomination to former chief minister Babulal Gaur and ex-Union minister Sartaj Singh, who were above 75 then.
Mahajan is the first woman MP to win a record eight consecutive elections. Before her, Communist Party of India leader Geeta Mukherjee had won West Bengal's Panskura Lok Sabha seat seven times between 1980 and 2000.
In 1982, Mahajan contested became a corporator of Indore. Two years later, she was appointed deputy mayor. In 1988, she unsuccessfully contested Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections from a constituency in Indore district.
But the next year, she entered the Lok Sabha by defeating Congress heavyweight and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Prakash Chandra Sethi by a margin of 1,11,614 votes.
In 2014, she defeated her nearest rival, Satyanarayan Patel of the Congress, by a staggering margin of 4,66,901 votes.