Sushma lifts lid on BJP divide

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 07, 2014 01:40 hrs

New Delhi: The BJP's house looks suddenly in disarray. BJP sources have been hinting at an increasing dissonance between party'sleader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her mentor and party patriarch L K Advani on one side and those considered close to the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Swaraj, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, today tweeted to let the world and her party colleagues know that she was unwilling to be kept out of the loop in the party's decision making or tolerate continuously being lied about.

Swaraj tweeted in the morning that she opposed the potential merger of the BSR Congress into BJP. Swaraj also tweeted that she didn't favour Haryana politician Venod Sharma, father of Manu Sharma who is serving a prison term in the Jessica Lal murder case, joining the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC). Kuldeep Bishnoi-headed HJC has an alliance with the BJP in Haryana.

In one deft stroke, Swaraj occupied a moral ground that may gall other BJP leaders but which they will difficult to argue with. She also set the record straight as media reports on both Sharma joining the BJP as also BSR Congress's possible merger with the party quoted unnamed party leaders who claimed both decisions had Swaraj's blessings.Congress MLA B.S. Sriramulu-led BSR Congress is important to BJP's electoral chances in Karnataka. Sriramulu, who counts Bellary's Reddy brothers as his patrons, had along with B.S. Yedyurappa dented the BJP's chances in the assembly elections.

But Swaraj, once close to the Reddy brothers, today said she opposed BSR Congress's merger with BJP. The BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh also gave the link of the media report that has upset her. The report quoted an unnamed BJP leader that Swaraj would take a final decision on BSR Congress's merger with the BJP.

She tweeted that she has conveyed to BJP president Rajnath Singh "in writing that BJP must not permit" return of Sriramulu. "I am opposed to the BSR alliance or merger with BJP in Karnataka," she tweeted.

In another tweet, Swaraj said she "strongly opposed" Sharma joining HJC and that she had "conveyed her views" to Bishnoi. Sharma, a former union minister who is also an ex-minister in the Bhupinder Hooda government, is said to have been assured the Karnal Lok Sabha seat. Last week, he met the BJP president along with Bishnoi.

Sources said Swaraj was in a minority within the BJP for wanting the party to continue its alliance with the HJC. They say most senior leaders, particularly BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, believe an electoral alliance with Om Prakash Chautala-led INLD may be wiser.

Swaraj hails from Ambala in Haryana, was a minister in the Devi Lal-led Janata government of 1977 in the state, and believes she should be consulted on party's decisions about the state. But Modi, say sources, claims to know Haryana well as he was the BJP prabhari or incharge of Haryana before becoming the CM of Gujarat in October 2001. Modi has a good rapport with Chautala.

"Sushma ji is the only stumbling block in the BJP dumping HJC and striking an alliance with INLD," said a BJP leader. Much of the party leadership believes the crucial non-Jat votes would be divided between Bishnoi and debutant Aam Aadmi Party, while Congress and INLD would share the Jat votes. Party strategists believe that an alliance with INLD would better serve the BJP in such a scenario of four/five cornered fights on Haryana's 10 Lok Sabha seats.Significantly, Swaraj's show of discontent comes within a day of media reports that Advani indirectly criticised Modi at the party's 27 February meeting. BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu vehemently denied the report on Wednesday. He said reports that attributed to Advani comments that BJP was a one man show were "totally baseless and nothing could be farther from the truth than this falsehood".

In his forceful denial, Naidu said it was "unfair to attribute falsehood to the tallest political personality of India with the comments he never made. No such discussion took place nor was any such comment made in the meeting," claimed Naidu, adding that he "was present at the meeting and sat just two seats away from Advani".

However, Swaraj's tweets of today have revived whispers at the BJP headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road that all wasn't well within the party, making many a BJP worker nervous as these developments come barely a month before the elections.

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