The BJP, under unrelenting fire from several quarters ever since it expelled its top former leader Jaswant Singh (71) from the party last Wednesday, was further embarrassed when former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee met him on Sunday morning.
A former key backroom boy for both Vajpayee and BJP parliamentary party leader L.K. Advani, Sudheendra Kulkarni (52), also quit the party on Saturday, saying he felt he could no longer make any “meaningful contribution” to it.
Critics of the BJP’s decision to sack Singh termed Vajpayee’s willingness to meet him — he is the first top BJP leader to do so publicly, since Singh was thrown out for praising Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali
Jinnah in his book — as a signal that he disapproved of the harsh step.
But others in the BJP claimed the meeting meant nothing, since Vajpayee was in such poor health he no longer took his own decisions. His aides and family decided whom he met.
“I came here to wish Vajpayeeji on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi,” Singh told reporters.
Kulkarni — who worked in the prime minister’s office during the NDA’s term from 1998 to 2004, and was later Advani’s chief speech writer and campaign in charge — said he quit because he had “ideological differences with the BJP as it stands today”. He’d been having differences with the party for some time, the latest over Singh’s removal, which he called ‘graceless and baseless’.
“His departure will have no effect,” said BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.