Senior BJP leader Keshri Nath Tripathi today questioned the party's decision to field Shyama Charan Gupta, who has been associated with Samajwadi Party for a long time, from Allahabad, and cryptically added in the wake of the development he might consider "other options" after consulting his supporters.
"Gupta is a personal friend of mine. But this does not take away the fact that he has been with Mulayam Singh Yadav's party till the very day his candidature was announced by the BJP Central Election Committee," Tripathi, who was hopeful of getting the party ticket from the seat, said.
"It is difficult to understand why the party chose a person who was with us two decades ago but joined SP thereafter, went on to become an MP on that party's ticket from Banda besides getting his wife fielded in Assembly polls as that party's nominee," the former state BJP president said.
Asked about his future plans, Tripathi said he had "many options" and that he would "consult my supporters and well-wishers before considering other options".
A three-time Speaker of the UP Assembly, Tripathi has been a five-time MLA from Allahabad (South). His political career hit a rough patch in the 2007 Assembly polls when he lost to Nand Gopal Gupta "Nandi", a city-based businessman who was making his electoral debut on a BSP ticket.
Significantly, Gupta's wife Jamunotri was the SP candidate from the seat where she finished fourth and forfeited her deposit.
Tripathi, a successful lawyer, suffered his second consecutive electoral defeat in 2012 when he had to contend with the third position in a tight contest which saw Haji Parvez Ahmed of SP wresting the seat from Nandi by a slender margin of about 500 votes.
Gupta, who owns Shyam Group which is involved in "bidi" manufacturing and has stakes in hospitality and real estate sectors, was initially believed to be eyeing a ticket from the Samajwadi Party, on whose ticket he went to the Lok Sabha from Banda in 2004 and unsuccessfully fought from Phulpur in 2009, losing to his BSP rival by a margin of less than 15,000 votes.
The businessman-turned-politician dropped hints of his disaffection with Mulayam Singh Yadav's party when one of his sons joined the BJP last month, reportedly at his instance.
Meanwhile, supporters of Tripathi - most of them lawyers - burnt an effigy of party's national president Rajnath Singh near the Allahabad High Court protesting the denial of ticket to the party veteran, and alleged the decision "is a sign of things to come in which old loyalists may find themselves humiliated for the benefit of turncoats with deep pockets".