The BJP appears to be in a dilemma in cracking the whip on its MP Kirti Azad who has sought to drag Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy much to party’s discomfort.
After Jaitley filed a defamation suit against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Azad not only dared the FM to sue him too but also allegedly tweeted that he is not afraid by anyone and called Jaitley a ‘napunsak’. However, a little after midnight, he posted on Twitter that his account was hacked.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party seems ready to pay a price by allowing a long rope to Azad and the former cricketer is relishing it the most.
Azad not only defied party’s advice by going ahead with his Sunday press conference to put out more ‘evidence’ about corruption in city cricket body, he even demanded a time-bound SIT probe into the matter in Lok Sabha. He was cheered by Congress leaders, including its chief Sonia Gandhi, who seemed to be enjoying the trouble within the ruling party.
BJP seniors confirmed to HT they were taken by surprise with Kriti’s intervention. “Do you think we are happy with what he (Azad) is doing? We have taken a serious note of it, but any action against him will be only after weighing its pros and cons,” a cabinet minister told HT.
What is then holding the BJP to take action against the Lok Sabha MP from Bihar’s Darbhanga? Party insiders cite a couple of reasons.
First, Azad is talking about corruption in a body that is not linked to the BJP. He has sought to insulate himself from any disciplinary action by invoking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his call to weed out corruption. His references to Jaitley have been largely indirect and Azad has avoided taking names in public.
The BJP, clearly, does not want to give another handle to the opposition to target the Modi government by appearing to be gagging an individual who is ‘exposing’ corruption.
“Many things have to be taken care of. Do we want to give him a long rope? Should he be tamed now or let the issue take its time to fizzle out. We have not reached to a conclusion,” the minister said.
Second, but more important, the party is not willing to open another Pandora’s Box ahead of some crucial developments.
The BJP leadership, particularly its chief Amit Shah, is still smarting under a ‘joint assault’ from party veterans. A disciplinary action at this point of time, when Shah is down following Bihar debacle, could add muscle to party rebels.
Shah is to get re-elected as the party’s national president next month and he wants to cross that milestone without any obstacle. He came out with a statement backing Jaitley against all charges only on Monday. This was a good number of days after he summoned Azad and advised him to exercise caution.
A disciplinary action against Azad would prompt him to present himself as a martyr and give an opportunity to target the party leadership.
The party’s reluctance to act against him has emboldened Azad all these years, but now the clamour for taming him is growing.
“BJP should take disciplinary action against Kirti Azad & some other MPs for embarrassing party & playing in the hands of opposition,” Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning.