The BJP’s bitter internal war spilled over to the first day of its conclave on Saturday, despite party chief Rajnath Singh’s call for a truce.
Dissenting leaders Jaswant Singh,71, and Arun Shourie,67, trained their guns on Arun Jaitley, chief strategist of the party’s poll campaign.
Though Rajnath, 57, said he took responsibility if any person had to be blamed, Jaswant told the BJP’s national executive he was hurt his criticism of party managers was made out as if he was aspiring for a post in Parliament for perks. He said he’d told L.K. Advani,81, he’d never contest polls again.
Shourie backed Jaswant and Yashwant Sinha,71, who’d quit his post and demanded others do the same. He said accountability had to fixed on the BJP’s campaign managers (read Jaitley) when “even hoardings were centralised”.
Jaitley was not present.
Shourie said six journalists were running the party.
But Sunderlal Patwa, 84, (former MP chief minister), chided them for targeting individuals when the need of the hour was to
unite and rejuvenate the BJP. He took on Shourie, saying Jaswant might be a senior partyman but he must learn to stay “disciplined and sleep on cot, if necessary for the party”.
Patwa also took a dig at “intellectual pretensions” of these leaders, saying “they may be budhijivi (intellectual) but need budhi (right mind) first.”
Defending son Varun, Maneka Gandhi (52) said it was wrong to blame his speeches when the Muslims never voted for the BJP anyway. And what’s more, the party had won in Muslim-dominated areas.
She was upset Jaitley had gone “scot-free” while Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shah Nawaz Hussain had blamed Varun’s hate-speeches. Both leaders weren’t present when she spoke.
The fireworks eclisped Rajnath’s message, who said he wanted the party to stay a right-wing group — though not necessarily an ultra-aggressive Hindu nationalist party.