Lucknow: The BJP's trouble over the induction of former Bahujan Samaj Party leader Babu Singh Kushwaha refuses to go away. First it was their former leader Kalyan Singh who claimed that the tainted ex-minister bought his way into the BJP. And now, similar voices from within are tormenting the party.
The latest to join the chorus against Kushwaha is Uttar Pradesh BJP leader Ramashish Rai. The former president of Yuva Morcha yesterday alleged that a deal was struck between some leaders of the party and the former BSP leader for his induction. Hours later, he was suspended. A notice issued to the former MLC said, "You made indecent remarks against the party leadership publicly, which has maligned the image of the party and it comes under the purview of indiscipline."
"Kushwaha had a deal with some leaders of the party and it seems monetary help was taken from him for contesting elections," Rai had claimed while talking to reporters in Lucknow yesterday. He had also alleged that due to "vested interests and personal gains," some leaders wanted Kushwaha, who was facing corruption charges, to join the BJP. He demanded that state BJP president Surya Pratap Shahi and national vice-president Vinay Katiyar be removed from their posts for the "controversial" induction.
"Such leaders should be removed from their posts and they should apologise to the people of the state," he said. "Under a conspiracy, Kushwaha and other tainted ministers of the BSP government were taken in the BJP. This has heavily dented the party's prospects in the state," he added.
Claiming that there was a revolt-like situation in almost all the districts against the induction of Kushwaha, Rai said he had written a letter to senior party leader LK Advani seeking his intervention. "I tried to meet him but it did not happen. I have written a letter to Advaniji requesting him to intervene immediately so that the party would be saved from damage." Rai had also said that he was ready to face the consequences of "speaking the truth."
Facing fire from within, rivals and allies alike, the BJP has distanced itself from the controversial inductee who is facing heat in the National Rural Health Mission scam. "The BJP had made it clear to Mr Kushwaha that we won't give him any ticket, or any post in the party. And if the CBI probe finds him guilty, the law will take its own course. The BJP will not defend him," party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The Kushwaha crisis has reportedly led to a divide within the party. Sources have told NDTV that fearing a credibility loss, senior leaders like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley have said no to backing 'criminal candidates'. In a desperate bid, the BJP asked Kushwaha to bail it out. Kushwaha obliged and wrote a letter to party chief Nitin Gadkari asking him to put his membership on hold till he's cleared of all charges as he did not want the BJP to suffer due to him.
"I do not want the negative campaign against me to affect the BJP. Till I prove my innocence, I will keep my BJP membership in abeyance. I believe I can prove my innocence," Mr Kushwaha said.
The Kushwaha crisis has demolished the BJP's campaign in the crucial state. Top campaign managers say that less than a month before polling starts, the strategy needs to be redrawn and its main plank - corruption - now needs a new spin or a silent burial. (With PTI Inputs)