Under attack from within and outside, the BJP on Saturday came out with an apparent face-saver by making tainted former Uttar Pradesh minister Babu Singh Kushwaha offer to keep his party membership in suspension.
"I do not want that as a result of the malicious charges against me, BJP should be made a target of unnecessary controversy. Therefore, till the time the allegations against me are not appropriately resolved, I will keep my membership of BJP under suspension," he said in a letter to BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Kushwaha's plea for suspension of his membership has been accepted by BJP.
BJP has been under attack from rivals for admitting Kushwaha, a former family welfare minister in Mayawati government who is an accused in the multi-crore NRHM scam. A number of leaders in the party also expressed reservations over his induction.
Kushwaha's decision came on a day when there were reports that top BJP leaders, including L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Murli Manohar Joshi, will not go to UP for campaigning for candidates with criminal and questionable antecedents.
Reacting to Kushwaha's decision, party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi that he would not be given a ticket or any position in the party till investigations are over in the scam.
But, he added, that Kushwaha himself wants to fight and does not want the controversy to linger on.
Kushwaha, in his letter, played the OBC card and said the attack on him was to "suppress" his voice for "exposing a conspiracy to take away 4.5 per cent from backward reservation quota due to a greed for minority vote bank".
He asked OBC members to back BJP to protect the reservation for backward castes.
Kushwaha said his decision to associate with BJP was unnecessarily being made a subject of controversy.
"Due to political conspiracy, I am being harassed by the Congress-led government at the Centre through BSP government of Uttar Pradesh and CBI," he alleged.
The former minister said his name was being dragged into the controversy deliberately and he was ready to face an inquiry by any independent agency.
"Till now, no charge has been framed against me in any court in any criminal case. I do not have any criminal history," he said.
"I am confident that I will prove myself innocent of the allegations against me," he said.
"I hope that I am taking this decision to uphold my self-respect and to carry on the struggle of the backward community along with my associates for the rights and self-respect of the backward community", Kushwaha said.
The BJP, on its part, said Kushwaha's decision was not a U-turn by the party and but an offer from him, which must be appreciated.
"It is not a U-turn by BJP at all. It is an offer made by Kushwaha himself", Prasad said.
He said BJP has taken the same position as Kushwaha on the 4.5 reservation within OBC quota as "this reservation is uncalled for".