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Khurana’s back; will Uma, Marandi follow suit?

Two years after having been expelled and just a few months prior to the assembly elections, veteran political leader ML Khurana was re-inducted into the BJP, reports Srinand Jha.
Hindustan Times | By Srinand Jha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 05, 2008 03:23 AM IST

Two years after having been expelled and just a few months prior to the scheduled assembly elections in Delhi, veteran political leader and former Delhi Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana was re-inducted into the BJP on Friday — setting off speculations about the possible return of other prodigal sons and daughters including Uma Bharti and Babulal Marandi.

Khurana has expressed regrets for his past behaviour and withdrawn all allegations against the BJP and expressed his desire to work for the party, a party press release says.

Shortly after the announcement, Khurana called on party president Rajnath Singh but refrained from commenting on the development. In the context of the upcoming November elections, Khurana will ostensibly be allocated major responsibilities, but his future role has not been defined so far.

Speculations suggesting backroom manoeuvrings for enabling the possible re-entry of former chief ministers Uma Bharti and Babulal Marandi have also been doing the rounds — although close advisors of both the leaders rule out such possibilities and the BJP is spreading rumours with aims of tarnishing the image of the two leaders and spreading confusion amongst their cadres.

Ruling out possibilities of a re-entry into the BJP, Marandi said the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) — launched by him in March 2006 — had been gaining strength and that was the reason for the BJP’s panic.

Uma Bharti is scheduled to address a press conference in New Delhi this weekend, to denounce the “whisper campaign” about her possible re-entry into the BJP. “Such talk has no basis and these are canards that are being spread by the BJP,” Bharatiya Janashakti Party national treasurer Sanjay Sharma said.

On the other hand, BJP leaders indicate talks are on, but have not made much headway because of certain preconditions put up by the two leaders.

Seventy-one-year-old Khurana — an ex-union minister and former Rajasthan Governor — was expelled from the BJP in 2006 following his acerbic outpourings against then party president LK Advani. Taking umbrage to Advani’s comments about having differed with the decision to release terrorists during the Kandahar hijack episode, Khurana had said Advani’s comments were aimed at showing himself as a “hero” and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as “zero”.

For Khurana, it is a second homecoming in the BJP. In August 2005, he had been removed on grounds of indiscipline, but re-inducted a month later. In March 2006, he was expelled for the second time for his vitriolic remarks against Advani’s style of functioning and for supporting dissident leaders of Gujarat.

Subsequently, he joined Uma Bharti's Bharatiya Janashakti Party, but fell out with her last year in protest against her decision to support the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. At that time, Khurana announced the launch of his own ‘morcha’ to fight for full statehood for Delhi and its development.

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