Cracks appeared in the BJP on Wednesday as some MPs voiced their anger against the party’s failure to cash in on the anti-government mood.
At the BJP parliamentary party meeting this morning, senior leader Yashwant Sinha even offered to resign as MP, while others, like Varun Gandhi went to the Ramlila Grounds.
Sinha, sources said, complained that the party had failed to sense the public mood with the result that even BJP MPs’ houses were being gheraoed and slogans raised, and the mood against Congress had become the mood against the whole polity. Mere discussion in Parliament won’t do, he said.
“I have told the party what I had to, and will not discuss it in the media,” Sinha told HT.
The party top brass is believed to have pacified him and said things were fine.
Another party MP, Shatrughan Sinha, was reported by the PTI as saying that the BJP instead of taking a clear cut stand, had been paying “lip service” on the Anna Hazare issue and using the Congress as a punching bag.
Purnea MP Uday Singh is also believed to have said at the parliamentary party meet that the BJP had frittered away its advantage by mishandling the issue of corruption.
In Delhi, Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi joined the protest at Ramlila, sitting in the crowd for more than two hours, though his party has maintained a measured distance from it.
Gandhi, the first BJP MP to sit in protest, has been backing Hazare’s initiative and had even offered him his house as an agitation venue. He had also sent a notice for introducing the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament for discussion as a private members’ Bill, calling it far better than the government Bill even if not a “perfect piece of legislation”.
The dissension in the ranks came on a day when the PM convened an all-party meet on the Lokpal logjam.
Speaking to the media later, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said the government must withdraw its Bill and draft a new, stronger one.
Swaraj is believed to be displeased with Gandhi’s initiative, as also with Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s letter to the PM asking for a special session of Parliament to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill without intra-party consultation.
Before the all-party meet, Arun Jaitley told the media that the government draft would have to be amended in Parliament. He said public mood was there for all to see, and reiterated that the PM should be under Lokpal minus sensitive functions like national security.
In Parliament, Murli Manohar Joshi in the Lok Sabha and Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha targeted the government on corruption. “Enormity of protests is proportionate to anger and the enormity of anger is proportionate to corruption,” Jaitley said.