Senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar, at the centre of a row for questioning the party’s stand on corruption and wrongdoing, said on Wednesday at least three Union ministers had backed his decision to write to party chief Amit Shah on the issue.
The 80-year-old Lok Sabha member, a former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh and a member of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet, denied media reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ticked him off for his July 10 letter.
Referring to the Vyapam recruitment and admission scam in Madhya Pradesh and the Lalit Modi controversy, Kumar had said in the letter that these cases have “made all of us bow our heads in shame”.
The BJP had distanced itself from Kumar’s comments and media reports had said he had been pulled up by the party. Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Kumar had been “carried away by the Congress propaganda”.
Kumar said in an interview to India Today’s To The Point programme that three Union ministers had congratulated him in Parliament’s central hall for writing the letter. These ministers said his letter expressed feelings they shared though they were “unable or scared” to speak out, he added.
He contended that a majority of the BJP is with him. He said he had not spoken to Modi since he wrote the letter, and the Prime Minister has said nothing to him.
Kumar said the BJP needs to thoroughly investigate the Vyapam scam and the Lalit Modi episode. He suggested Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan should resign.
“There is no doubt the Vyapam scam has affected the image and standing of the BJP. It cannot be taken lightly. The party must investigate and introspect seriously,” he said.
Referring to allegations that Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje had backed Lalit Modi’s immigration application to British authorities, Kumar felt the BJP should await a thorough investigation before asking for her resignation.
Kumar said the BJP was a “party with a difference where the difference has diminished and eroded”.
He also stood by his remarks in 2002 interview that if he had been Narendra Modi, he would have quit after the killings in Gujarat. At the time, Modi was chief minister of the western state. “However, today Modi is the right man to be Prime Minister,” he added.
Speaking about his resignation from the BJP-led government in 2003, he said Vajpayee had received his resignation with tear in his eyes. Vajpayee said Kumar was ‘imaandar’ (honest) but it was his ‘majburi’ (compulsion) that he was forced to accept the resignation. However, Kumar said Vajpayee had done him an “injustice”.