BJP to fete Phoolka today for role in delivering justice for 1984 riots victims
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BJP to fete Phoolka today for role in delivering justice for 1984 riots victims

Senior advocate HS Phoolka has met Union minister Vijay Goel twice after quitting the AAP, leading to speculations that the BJP might be trying to rope him in.

delhi Updated: Jan 13, 2019 09:37 IST
Ashish Mishra
Ashish Mishra
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP,Phoolka,1984 riots
HS Phoolka had said converting an anti-corruption movement into a political party was a mistake, and has been vocal about his opposition to any alliance between the Congress and AAP.(Raj K Raj/HT File Photo)

The BJP will felicitate HS Phoolka, who recently quit the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in recognition of his efforts to get justice for victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots at an event on Sunday organised by Vijay Goel, Union minister and senior party leader from Delhi.

Home minister Rajnath Singh will felicitate the former AAP leader, leading to speculation that the BJP could rope in Phoolka to strengthen its following among the Sikh community. Since he announced his exit from the AAP, Phoolka has met Goel a couple of times. A day after he resigned, Phoolka had met Goel at his residence on the latter’s birthday and termed him a “good friend”.

Phoolka, who cited personal reasons for quitting the party but said converting an anti-corruption movement into a political party was a mistake, has been vocal about his opposition to any alliance between the Congress and AAP. His resignation had fuelled speculation that the two parties were trying to forge an alliance to keep the BJP out of power at the Centre.

“We are felicitating him for his immense contribution in the long fight to get justice to the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots,” Goel said. He said it was the BJP government at the Centre that expedited the probe and set up a special investigation team (SIT) to look into the cases.

A senior BJP member said on the condition of anonymity that Phoolka’s presence with BJP leaders was a hint that the former AAP leader might join the saffron party in future. “Phoolka’s meeting with Goel-ji and his felicitation might be an indication that the party is trying to bring the Sikh icon into the camp,” said a BJP leader who did not wish to be named.

Phoolka denied any speculation of joining the saffron party “for the moment”. He added that he would support those who celebrate Kumar’s conviction.

“It is purely a felicitation programme and I am not joining any political outfit at the moment. I will support whosoever wants to celebrate the victory in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot case. Goel is celebrating it and I will go there,” Phoolka said.

People within the BJP are of the view that even if Phoolka does not formally join the party, his support and presence at its events would endear the party to Sikh voters.

The AAP termed the move as a desperate attempt by the BJP to take credit for Kumar’s conviction. Saurabh Bharadwaj, national spokesperson of the AAP, said the BJP had its own way of taking credit for others’ work.

“Phoolka is a non-political person and I don’t think that he would go with the BJP... The party (BJP) is a master in the art of hijacking the legacy of anybody who has done anything important, be it revolutionaries, cricketers, or anyone else. They try to woo whoever is famous. They do it because they don’t have their own legacy,” Bharadwaj said.

He said the BJP had “no right” to take credit for Kumar’s conviction.

“Kumar’s conviction has nothing to do with the SIT formed by the BJP in the case. Their SIT only closed the cases. The BJP did nothing for anti-Sikh riot victims and people know this reality,” he said.

First Published: Jan 13, 2019 09:34 IST