The top BJP leadership put up an official show of unity on Friday on the induction of tainted former UP ministers, even though leaders, such as Maneka Gandhi and Gorakhpur strongman Yogi Adityanath, expressed their objection in no uncertain terms.
While Gandhi said the induction of former UP family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha would pollute the party, four-time MP Adityanath told party chief Nitin Gadkari that he would be forced to leave if corrupt party-hoppers stayed.
The leaders backing the move are also convinced that the induction will help the party corner votes from the OBCs — especially the Kushwahas, Koeris and Kachhis. The Kushwahas are an agrarian caste in eastern UP and Bundelkhand.
Spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman defended the induction as the party had not given Kushwaha either a clean chit or any position. Firebrand Uma Bharti, who reportedly opposed the move, later said all was well and she would campaign. Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha went to the extent of saying Kushwaha had come to the BJP as a “whistleblower”.
Abhishek Singhvi of the Congress took a dig: “The BJP should have an internal lokpal to allow the corrupt to get through.” The BJP leadership, however, does not think that the tainted recruits will hurt its anti-graft stance.
“If we beat the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, its plan of forming a government in alliance, diminishing the Centre's dependence on Mamata Banerjee will fail,” said a BJP leader.
The BJP is banking on caste personalities as its poll strategy. Besides Kushwaha, it feels Uma Bharti and tainted candidates Sakshi Maharaj and Chhatrapal Singh will help mobilise the Lodh caste, while Vinay Katiyar, another staunch Hindutva leader will bring in Kurmi votes.