In the absence of declaration of chief ministerial candidate by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its two MPs, from Gurgaon union minister Rao Inderjit Singh and from Karnal Ashwani Chopra Minna (who is the editor of a national Hindi daily published from Delhi), were out to let each other down at the cost of party’s new found hope of forming the next government in Haryana.
The two hit the news headlines earlier this week, when Minna’s newspaper (Punjab Kesari, Delhi) having circulation in Haryana besides Delhi, started casting aspersions on Inderjit and questioned his ‘clean image’, while in response, supporters of the union minister recently took out a rally against Chopra, burnt his effigy, and raised slogans against him and his newspaper.
While the veteran Ahir leader, who had left the Congress before the Lok Saba election, Singh is for his ambition to become the chief minister, Chopra is trying to project himself as a key Punjabi face. After he defeated two-time Congress MP from Karnal Arvind Sharma by more than 3.60 lakh votes, a political novice Chopra too is eyeing the top post.
The issue snowballed and had an cascading effect on BJP’s ‘Vijay Sanklap Yatra’ headed by party state president Ram Bilas Sharma as neither Rao Inderjit nor his supporters reached to welcome the Yatra in Rewari.
However, before the onset of Yatra, BJP had declared that Rao Inderjit and Ram Bilas Sharma would jointly lead the Yatra from Mahendergarh to 24 assembly segments of Rewari, Gurgaon, Mewat, Faridabad and Palwal.
Ram Bilas Sharma is another serious contender for the top post. Rao’s supporters had raised slogans to install him as chief minister candidate at Mahendergarh rally on August 14, organised by Ram Bilas Sharma.
Meanwhile, union minister Rao Inderjit, who was in Karnal on Thursday, accused Chopra of indulging in “yellow journalism” to malign him. Singh said that he was hurt at being targeted unnecessary by Chopra’s newspaper.
“Since August 12, Chopra’s newspaper in carrying my photo prominently and publishing fabricated news reports. It is pure Yellow Press and his publication is well known for such works,” said the minister said. Singh said that he had not taken up the matter with the central leadership.
“As the Haryana assembly elections are nearing and I am sure that central leadership of the BJP must be aware of the malicious campaign launched against me,” he said without saying further.
At a hurriedly called press conference in Karnal on Thursday evening, Chopra accused Singh of making false charges against his (Chopra’s publication) and denied any personal grouse against the union minister. “Each news report was a professional work. In fact, Rao Inderjit is angry with me for raising a demand before the PM that the BJP should not allot tickets to the family members of the party’s elected representatives,” he said. “After I had made this demand at a recent meeting, Singh had shown his deep anguish against me. Rao Inderjit Singh called me “chamcha” (sycophant) of Modi.
He also said that he wanted to become next CM and want his (Singh’s) daughter to be a legislator but I spoiled his plans,” Chopra alleged.