Had thought of quitting saffron party after being asked to step down for exposing corruption: Shanta
Former Himachal chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s veteran leader Shanta Kumar revealed in his recently released autobiography that he had thought of quitting the saffron party after he was asked to step down as Union minister in the Vajpayee government for exposing corruption in a government scheme.
While the common belief was that Shanta Kumar had been removed as Union minister of rural development in 2003 for speaking up against the 2002 Godhra riots and the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the former’s memoir titled “Nij Path Ka Avichal Panthi” paints a different picture.
The 85-year-old veteran leader revealed that he had exposed a ₹300-crore scam in the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna of rural development department, which allegedly took place during the tenure of the sitting vice-president of India, Venkaiah Naidu. Naidu had given up the ministerial berth in Vajpayee government to become BJP’s national chief in 2002.
Shanta Kumar revealed that while Naidu was angry, no one including the ex-PM Vajpayee, the then deputy PM LK Advani, then parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan or even the RSS supported him.
Kumar recalled that senior central leaders and a few from Himachal had grouped up against him and he was eventually asked to step down. “However, I did not compromise on my principles,” he wrote.
“I lost trust in them and the party. It was at that moment that the idea of quitting the party and exposing the scam in the House of Lok Sabha struck my mind. However, my wife stopped me,” added Kumar.
‘Ashamed to see party indulging in horse trading’
The former two-term chief minister of Himachal Pradesh also wrote that he was ashamed to see his party, BJP, deviating from its principles and indulging in horse trading to topple governments.
His remarks come close on the heels of the Congress government in Puducherry losing the trust vote after its MLAs quit the party to join BJP. By practicing unethical politics, governments can be changed but not the society, he wrote.
“We came to politics to change the society and not the government,” he said quoting former PM Vajpayee.
“I feel ashamed that my party indulged in the sale and purchase of MLAs. BJP became the world’s largest party due to its values and idealism, but it has now become power-hungry,” he wrote.
Kumar also cautioned the BJP against compromising with its principles and said it should follow the path of Swami Vivekananda, whom the party reveres.
He also hailed the Narendra Modi government for abrogating Article 370 and sought laws to curb the use of black money in elections.