New Delhi: Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj has strongly objected to her party's plans to align with several controversial politicians, as the last lap for the general elections begins in real earnest. (Battleground 2014: Track LIVE updates)
"I have conveyed to Shri Raj Nath Singhji in writing that BJP must not permit this," Ms Swaraj tweeted today, attaching a link to a newspaper report that said the Karnataka BJP unit is all set to re-induct a former state minister, BS Sriramulu, into the party and field him in the Lok Sabha elections that begin next month.
Sriramulu had quit the BJP in 2011 alleging that his mentor and mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy had been humiliated by the party, then in power in Karnataka. The powerful Reddy brothers of Bellary were once seen as close to Ms Swaraj, but she had distanced herself from them after allegations of illegal mining were made against them. All three Reddy brothers were arrested in 2011 and parted ways with the BJP.
Sriramulu launched his own party BSR Congress, much like BS Yeddyurappa, who had also left the BJP and launched a party after he was forced to resign as Karnataka chief minister because of allegations of corruption.
In the run-up to the general elections, with Narendra Modi in charge, the BJP has been looking to get back its prodigals to the party fold as it attempts to consolidate its position. Leaders like Sriramulu and Mr Yeddyurappa wield substantial political clout in pockets of Karnataka, which the BJP lost to the Congress in 2012 in a humiliating rout.
Mr Yeddyurappa merged his KJP with the BJP in January. There have been reports of a similar merger planned with Sriramulu's BSR Congress.
MS Swaraj's stand on Sriramulu is consistent with her objection to the possibility of other controversial politicians like Venod Sharma from Haryana finding an entry point into the coalition led by her party, the NDA, by aligning with regional partners. (Read)
In the run-up to the national election, parties are trying to emphasize candidates with clean backgrounds. That agenda has been set largely by Arvind Kejriwal's one-year-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has positioned itself as an outfit committed to deracinating corruption from the polity.