The rift within the BJP widened a little further on Saturday after president Rajnath Singh took two more controversial decisions, one of which was promptly opposed publicly by his own party’s Uttar Pradesh unit.
The first was the appointment of Delhi businessman Sudhanshu Mittal as the BJP’s campaign manager in Rajasthan. The second was the induction of the tainted former bureaucrat Neera Yadav as a party member in UP.
Mittal’s appointment is being seen as an attempt by Singh to stamp his authority as president on the party. He has gone ahead entrusting Mittal with a fresh responsibility despite the fact that last month, his selection as BJP co-convenor for the Northeast had kicked up a major row, with party general secretary Arun Jaitley disapproving the “unilateral” appointment of a man, seen by many as a wheeler-dealer.
“I am already Sah Prabhari of Northeast. The party has given me the additional responsibility of managing the campaign in Rajasthan and I will work there,” Mittal told HT.
This time, former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje sought Mittal’s services to get the Meenas to vote for the party in constituencies where they hold sway.
Mittal was a close aide of Pramod Mahajan, who had looked after the party’s campaign in Rajasthan in 2004. But this added feather in Mittal’s cap might end up ruffling a few feathers.
Yadav not inducted, says UP unit
The BJP is a divided house over the entry of Neera Yadav — the first IAS officer to be removed on Supreme Court orders over corruption charges.
Party spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh told HT: “At a press conference in Lucknow, BJP state unit chief Ramapati Ram Tripathi announced that Neera Yadav has not been inducted into BJP. Her husband Mahendra Yadav was inducted, she expressed a desire to join, which was turned down.”
Key L.K. Advani aide Sudheendra Kulkarni, who had reportedly told the media it was a mistake to induct Yadav, told HT that the party had clarified its position in Lucknow.
A section in the party, including Jaitley, has reservations over her association with the party. On record, however, Jaitley claimed: “It was Mahendra (former party MLA and Yadav’s husband) who was inducted into the party and Neera was merely present with her husband.”
The state unit’s stand is being seen as a rebuff to the party president, who is believed to have honoured Yadav to please her community of Tyagis who have some presence in Ghaziabad. Singh is keen to win from here.