Barely a month after lashing out at senior BJP leadership over the bruising Bihar poll loss even before the dust of the elections had settled, four veteran party leaders met on Thursday to discuss the raging controversy over corruption allegations in Delhi’s cricket association.
Sidelined leaders LK Advani, MM Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar met for an hour in Delhi with sources saying they discussed the suspension of Darbhanga MP Kirti Azad for anti-party activities but any decision would be taken “at an opportune time”.
“They are our seniors, their suggestions are welcome. The party has reached this stage with their blessings,” BJP spokesman Shrikant Sharma said. Joshi and Advani are part of the party’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’.
Party leaders dismissed any link between Azad’s suspension and the meeting, saying the veterans were already scheduled to discuss issues that could not be taken up during the recently-concluded Parliament session.
A senior BJP functionary told HT the veterans themselves had laid down the rules for discipline and could not be seen encouraging dissent.
“Years ago it was Advaniji who expelled Uma Bharti for breaching party discipline when she tried to raise some issues at the party forum. Here a member has indulged in anti-party activities on the floor of Parliament, how can there be no action?” he said.
The meeting came on a day cricketer-turned-politician Azad sought to rally the support of senior party leaders over his suspension and said he would like to speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Darbhanga MP told reporters at Ahmedabad airport that he spoke to Joshi and would meet him after his return to Delhi. He is likely to meet Joshi on Friday and Advani later.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy also questioned the suspension, saying he would help Azad draft his reply to the party.
The BJP had cracked down on the dissident Azad on Wednesday for repeatedly embarrassing the party with controversial statements around alleged financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association. The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party used the accusations to stall most of the winter session of Parliament.
The action against Azad was also intended to send a strong signal to other dissident leaders who have been targeting the party leadership in the wake of the BJP’s crushing defeat in the recent Bihar assembly elections.
Days after the Bihar loss, the four senior leaders lashed out at senior party leadership in a strongly-worded statement that said the party had been emasculated and no lessons were learnt from the Delhi poll loss.
The four veterans have been sidelined in the party since the ascension of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s in the run-up to last year’s general elections.
(With PTI inputs)