Caught between the cold calculation of caste politics and the compromise of its anti-corruption stand, a split BJP scrambled to defend its induction of two tainted ministers sacked by Mayawati.
Political rivals are slamming the party for double-speak on graft. Babu Singh Kushwaha and Badshah Singh, both removed by the UP CM on corruption charges, had been welcomed into the BJP on Tuesday.
The decision, widely perceived to have been made by party president Nitin Gadkari, has divided the BJP into two camps. One is backing Gadkari on the grounds of "social engineering" and the other against it, believing it will damage the party’s high decibel anti-graft campaign.
Kushwaha is a leader from the other backward classes (OBC). The BJP is hoping to get the non-Yadav OBC vote, especially after the OBCs lost some of their quota to backwards among minorities. Kushwaha himself said he was against the OBC share being given to minorities. He added he was ready for any probe on graft, but dubbed the CBI “selective”.
Singh is a Thakur from Bundelkhand, where Rahul Gandhi is trying to gain a foothold and which is also an area Mayawati has promised will be given full statehood in her plan to split UP into four parts.
Sources said there are tensions within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the tainted BSP discards. Despite Gadkari’s backing, LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj are believed to be unhappy, saying this has reversed the gains of LK Advani’s Rath Yatra and BJP's anti-graft campaign.
But Ananth Kumar, considered close to Advani, defended the decision, calling Kushwaha an influential OBC leader.