Obliquely linking the BJP with corporate lobbyists, former Union minister and ex-Rajya Sabha MP from BJP Arun Shourie suggested on Sunday that the party replaced him as its lead budget speaker in 2009 for fear that he would oppose a proposal benefiting industrialist Mukesh Ambani.
He made this accusation while talking to Karan Thapar on the CNN-IBN programme Devil’s Advocate in relation with a conversation in the Niira Radia tapes, where the Ambani brothers’ dispute over gas pricing is believed to have been discussed.
Shourie said it was clear from one of the tapes — where he identified the voice as that of NK Singh, former Vajpayee aide and presently JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP — that someone arranged for replacing him with former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu as the lead speaker from the party during the budget debate in Parliament in 2009.;
Naidu denied having been lobbied by Radia. Singh did not respond to calls and SMSes from HT.
Suggesting the change was done for fear that he would take a stand against the said budget proposal, Shourie said, “This was because I had spoken about that particular proposal in an adverse way in a party meeting. I mean how they got to know of this... They got to know of this and this was their apprehension certainly. I may or may not have spoken about it on the floor of the House.”
On whether BJP leaders were influenced by lobbyists, he said, “I would actually think that all parties are of the same nature in the sense that you see if you are becoming a national party, for instance, you would need resources, you will have to get it from these persons… if you are businessmen, you would have to be prudent enough to see different parties are in power in different states, so you must have relation with all parties... The tapes reveal access...”
Asked about the conversations on the tapes that he would take a hard line on the budgetary proposal because he was allegedly allied with Mukesh’s rival and brother Anil Ambani, Shourie said, “This is the conspiracy theory by which this kind of liaison is being justified.”…
A senior BJP leader was clearly not amused: “Shourie had raised the issue in BJP Parliamentary Party and had a partisan position in a corporate dispute. But we decided that we would not take sides in a corporate dispute and that no MP or party leader will talk on it, taking one side or another.”