This Article is From Jun 17, 2015

What Sushma Controversy Rips Wide Open About the BJP

An editor friend said something very interesting last month.  When the Congress was in power, he said, the biggest stories came from the BJP, but hilariously, since the BJP has been in power, the best stories have come not from the opposition, but from within the party.

The Sushma Swaraj - Vasundhara Raje - Lalit Modi controversy which has played out as one of the biggest exposes of the year finally highlights the tension that has reportedly been simmering within Modi's cabinet and other leaders, and an increasing dissent against the party leadership.

Lalit Modi's defence of Sushma Swaraj has ended up damaging her case further with assumptions that Sushma will either be forced to resign or else will end up with her wings clipped further.

In the next few days, editorials and further investigations will reveal many more damning revelations not just about Sushma and Vasundhara but also several other leaders across the party spectrum, say sources. But there is something supporters and confidantes of Sushma Swaraj have been stating publicly which cannot be ignored. Ex-cricketer and BJP MP Kirti Azad launched a scathing attack on the 'aasteen ka saanp' (an insider  who plays dubious games to bring down others in an insiduous manner) within the BJP who was responsible for the leak to a news channel which first reported the story.

In a tweet he addressed Arun Jaitley, stating "@LalitKModi being probed by Enforcement Directorate. Who were the members of #BCCI Executive Counsel who approved #IPL in South Africa. Should they too not be probed? What say @arunjaitley." The statement was a direct allegation against Jaitley  who was a part of the BCCI executive council which approved the IPL season in South Africa. Lalit Modi has stated that most of the financial decisions were taken by a committee, which included the then BCCI officials N Srinivasan, Shashank Manohar and Arun Jaitley. He was just a Commissioner. The decision to take money from India to South Africa was taken by the committee.

Kirti Azad's bitter relationship with Arun Jaitley is well-established  with him openly criticizing Jaitley's role as the Finance Minister of the country and his increasing power play in cricketing issues. The two were at loggerheads over control of the Delhi and District Cricket Association. In 2013, Bishan Singh Bedi and Azad, who are part of the National Capital Territory Cricket Association (NCTCA) criticised Jaitley for "manipulating" the then held BCCI working committee meeting in Chennai.

In a strongly-worded media release the players said, "All present expressed their disgust at DDCA President who they felt, had brought a bad name to cricket and DDCA by manipulating the flow of the recently held BCCI meeting held in Chennai. Mr Jaitley's support for unethical and immoral activities in DDCA, confirmed his poor stewardship over the last 13 years, and it was decided to seek his resignation as President of DDCA immediately forthwith."

Lalit Modi, despite his criminality, in very brazen, unaffected vacation mode gave an interview to a news channel and has just ended up looking like a wheeler dealer or a pawn in this situation which has nothing to do with cricket but everything to do with politics - the internal politics within the BJP and the changing power dynamics.

If sources close to Sushma Swaraj are to be believed, the External Affairs Minister holds two senior leaders in the BJP as the architect of the entire saga who did not facilitate the leak of the emails but helped journalists with information that could lead them to a big expose. One cannot take this as a valid piece of news as it is an apprehension expressed by members of Sushma's office who claim to have the full support of the RSS.

The story in the BJP circles also goes that Sushma Swaraj's complaint to the RSS chief about the troika of Modi, Shah and Jaitley downplaying her role in the government set the spinmasters rolling. It is common knowledge that Swaraj, who is one of the most important cabinet ministers in the Modi government, does not enjoy a very congenial relationship with the Modi camp.

The story further goes that those who were behind the passing of information from the BJP on the Sushma - Lalit Modi conflict of interest did not want the minister to resign but wanted to ensure that her wings were clipped in the party. Another reason for the troika of BJP leaders who are reportedly  against Sushma Swaraj to rebel against her are unsubstantiated allegations that she alongwith with her mentor LK Advani and other senior leaders like Shatrughan Sinha and senior Delhi-based RSS leaders want to weaken the party in Bihar in a bid to ask for Amit Shah's ouster as BJP president should the party lose the battle of prestige.

Well-placed sources in the BJP have told this reporter that RSS leaders have conveyed to both Modi and Shah that despite their differences, they have to support Sushma Swaraj in the larger interest of the government. Sushma in the meanwhile has been asked to maintain absolute silence on the issue by the RSS which believes that the issue will die a natural death.

For now, in its own best interests, the rivals have decided to put their heads together and try to wriggle out of this mess unscathed. But the question is for how long. From Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and now Sushma Swaraj, those who are protesting against the all-powerful troika could get stronger unless the leaders in Nagpur decide to take things into their own hands.

(Rana Ayyub is an award-winning investigative journalist and political writer. She is working on a book on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which will be published later this year.)

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