The BJP reprimanded a veteran lawmaker on Tuesday after he left the ruling party red-faced at the beginning of Parliament’s monsoon session with a letter to its president, Amit Shah, saying a series of scandals had dented the government’s image.
Senior leaders from the BJP urged Lok Sabha MP Shanta Kumar to show restraint and blamed him for getting carried away with “Congress propaganda” after he demanded an ombudsman like Lokpal in the party to tackle cases of corruption.
“We were celebrating the momentous achievements of our first year in power when suddenly a dark shadow loomed on us,” the 80-year-old wrote in the letter dated July 10 that was leaked to the media on Monday. “From Rajasthan to Maharashtra, people started pointing fingers at us. The Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh has forced all of us to hang our heads in shame.”
Sources say the former union minister and Himachal Pradesh chief minister is among several BJP veterans who are feeling left out with Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs.
The sign of discontent within the party comes at a time when it is battling a barrage of Opposition criticism over the Vyapam test-rigging scam in Madhya Pradesh that has seen thousands of arrests and dozens of mysterious deaths.
It is also facing flak over some top leaders allegedly helping controversial former cricket administrator Lalit Modi and accusations of corruption in Maharashtra.
“India’s politics has been mired in deception, duplicity and greed with everyone only interested in holding on to vote-banks and power,” Kumar wrote in the letter in Hindi. “Patriotism and public service have become rare commodities. Our party is the last ray of hope. If we too fail, history will never forgive us.”
Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters in Delhi that the party completely disassociated itself from Kumar’s statements.
"We generally consider Shanta Kumar a very mature leader,” he said. “But it seems that he has been carried away by the propaganda of the Congress.”
The explosive letter is likely to give rivals ammunition to attack the ruling BJP-led alliance as the Parliament’s monsoon session kicked off on Tuesday, with the government already facing a tough challenge in bringing the Opposition on board to get key bills passed.
Kumar defended his actions, saying he wanted the BJP to take concrete steps to deal with the scams.
“I have written the letter and I stand by every word of it. Our party has made glorious achievements. It won with glory, formed government and ran it for a year with glory,” he said. “After that, stains have started to appear.”