Post polls, BJP internal war intensifies
The war within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looked messier on Friday, with party president Rajnath Singh openly coming to the aid of senior leader Jaswant Singh.delhi Updated: Jun 13, 2009 03:00 IST
The war within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looked messier on Friday, with party president Rajnath Singh openly coming to the aid of senior leader Jaswant Singh.
Jaswant is facing criticism for opposing L K Advani’s decisions after the drubbing at the Lok Sabha polls, like making Arun Jaitley the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
After a meeting with Advani, Rajnath deployed spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy to defend Jaswant amid reports that the BJP is under pressure to act against him.
Earlier, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, too, met Advani, who had called for a probe to find out why the BJP did not do well in Modi’s state.
Rudy said the BJP did not see any act of “misdemeanour” in Jaswant’s television interviews criticising the party, or his note attacking Advani finding its way to the media.
He said, “Jaswant Singh is a senior leader of the BJP, who has raised serious issues, which the party will consider.”
On the television interview, Rudy said he had only aired his views, “though some senior leaders do think that internal matters should not be discussed in the media or in public”.
Attacking Jaswant, Uttar Pradesh BJP leader Kalraj Mishra said on Friday, “How can he escape responsibility for the poll debacle when he is a member of the BJP Parliamentary Board?”
Rudy, however, made it clear that if any action was needed to be taken at all, it could well start with Advani’s key aide, Sudheendra Kulkarni, who blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for making Advani “look weak, helpless and not fully in command” in an article in Tehelka magazine.
The BJP spokesperson differed with Sushma Swaraj, the party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha. On June 8, Swaraj said, “His (Kulkarni’s) views were at best to be treated as the views of an independent journalist.”
Advani had also called up Kulkarni to convey his displeasure and anguish. He said the RSS had worked closely with the BJP and he himself had thanked Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Rudy pointed out, “Until May 17, Kulkarni was involved in every aspect of campaigning. Instead of accepting responsibility, he has apportioned blame to everyone. It’s a gravely improper thing to do.”
“Now, we are told he is an independent journalist,” he added.
Rudy’s attack on Kulkarni is read as part of Rajnath’s strategy to take on those close to Advani. With his tenure — ending in January —under scanner, Rajnath is unhappy that Advani chose Arun Jaitley as the Rajya Sabha leader when he had to take the blame for the debacle.
Besides, Advani made Sushma Swaraj his deputy in the Lok Sabha, indicating that she would step into his shoes when he calls it a day. This is contrary to Rajnath’s ambition of donning Advani’s role in the House and getting his term as the BJP chief renewed.