Cornered within his own party for allegedly speaking against the state leadership over corruption, Rajan Sushant, BJP MP from Kangra, doesn’t bow easily.Known for his recalcitrant attitude, Sushant had defeated Congress stalwart Chaudhary Chander Kumar in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections by a margin of more than 20,000 votes. However, he made waves by launching a scathing campaign against his party leaders a few months after he was elected to Parliament.
More than his work, Sushant’s term remained a talking point for the anti-corruption drive targeting the saffron party leadership, particularly then chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. One of the founder members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh, Sushant did not launch his crusade all of a sudden. The matter had its genesis much before, when despite being a senior legislator, he was not given a ministerial berth in the Dhumal-led government that came to power in 2007.
In a damage-control exercise, the party fielded him from Kangra parliamentary constituency, only to realise that the problem had grown manifold. Sushant strived for the party ticket for wife Sudha from Jawali constituency, which was vacated after he was elected to the Lok Sabha. This marked the beginning of trouble, bringing embarrassment to the party repeatedly and leading to his suspension from the BJP’s primary membership.
Even though the state party leadership recommended expulsion of the defiant MP, the BJP high command was hesitant to pursue any action. “Sushant actually had touched a sensitive issue and it became a compulsion to retain him in the party. Given the party’s commitment to fight corruption, his expulsion would have been more embarrassing for the BJP than the damage he had done,” said a party insider.
Despite being at loggerheads with the state party leadership, Sushant has been good at maintaining public connect. It was as part of his anti-corruption campaign that he travelled extensively across all 17 assembly segments under Kangra parliamentary seat.
He floated a non-political anti-corruption forum, Himachal Adhikar Manch, and cornered then BJP government on the issues of development as well as corruption.Resignation ‘stunt’
After keeping distance from the party for five years, Sushant, in a clever move, not only quit the BJP but also announced his resignation as an MP. However, he
soon made an about-turn, claiming that his resignation was conditional and had not come into effect so far.
He claimed that the resignation was tendered on the condition that it should be accepted only after he sanctioned the last instalment of his MPLAD (MP local area development) fund. Sushant’s resignation drew criticism from his political opponents, who termed it a political gimmick to mislead people and divert attention from his failures.
With the Lok Sabha elections around the corner, Sushant has intensified the crusade against the BJP. This time, party veteran and his one-time mentor Shanta Kumar is in the line of fire. Sushant is moving from village to village, canvassing for the upcoming polls and vowing to expose the BJP leadership.
Despite the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leadership refuting talks of Sushant joining the party, sources said secret meetings had taken place between the two sides to explore the possibility.
Riding on the Modi wave, the BJP has made its choice obvious in the form of Shanta Kumar, while the Congress may rely again on Chaudhary Chander Kumar, the stalwart OBC (other backward classes) leader. Sushant hardly stands a chance, but he will definitely play spoilsport for either of the two candidates.
Part 11 of 34: Avtar Singh Bhadana, Faridabad