New Delhi: The BJP on Tuesday snubbed party veteran Shanta Kumar over his demand for a 'Lokpal' in the party to tackle the cases of corruption like Vyapam but the former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister maintained that he had only stated his "Mann ki baat" (feelings of his heart).
On a day his letter to BJP chief Amit Shah left the party red-faced, Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy shot back, saying Kumar had been carried away by Congress "propaganda".
"We generally consider Shanta Kumar a very mature leader. But it seems that he has been carried away by the propaganda of the Congress. Whatever he has said or written, we completely disassociate with Mr Shanta Kumar's version," Rudy told reporters here.
In an embarrassment to government and BJP over their claims that its ministers and chief ministers have done nothing illegal and immoral, Kumar said fingers from "Rajasthan to Maharashtra are being pointed at us" while Vyapam scam has "made all of us bow our heads in shame".
"What as a BJP worker I thought is right I told the party president. We feel proud of our achievements and when the party is stained, then we feel pained... I don't worry about how many people are with me. I with simplicity and without any fear put forth my 'mann ki baat'," he told a news channel.
The 80-year-old former union minister denied reports that he was unhappy with the party leadership and said he will abide by whatever decision Modi and Shah take on the matter.
'Mann ki baat' is a regular radio programme in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks candidly on a variety of issues.
In his letter to Shah, Kumar sought constitution of an "ethics committee" which, he said, should act like a Lokpal to "keep a check on leaders in the government".
"Fingers are being pointed at us from Rajasthan to Maharashtra. The reports of Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh have made all of us bow our heads in shame. Any Indian will be disappointed and distressed over the kind of stories being reported by the media," he said.
"I have written the letter and I stand by every word of it. Our government has made glorious achievements in one year after it won a historic victory. After that stains have started to appear in places. With achievement, your head is held high. Stains cause pain in the heart," he said.
Taking a swipe at Kumar, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said if his heart was so pained, then he should also have spoken about Virbhadra Singh, Congress leader who is Himachal Chief Minister and facing corruption charges.
The letter bomb dropped by Kumar, who enjoys a clean image, has upset the party top brass, with many within the outfit wondering if the veteran's decision to go public was because of his disillusionment at having been marginalised under the reign of Modi and Shah.
Kumar, however, dismissed such talk, saying he had no complaints with the party leadership and he was confident that Modi and Shah will take correct decisions. "I will abide by whatever they decide."
To drive home his point, he said unlike Congress, BJP was a party where leaders were allowed to freely express their views.
In the letter, he said a sudden eclipse hit the party when leaders were celebrating the achievements of the government.
"All the accusations levelled at us in some states would not have started suddenly. It would have begun earlier... Some people would have discussed it but due to the absence of any proper mechanism, timely action could not be taken. The party is paying price for it across the country today for this," he said, seeking constitution of an ethics committee.
Kumar is among the veteran party leaders who held powerful positions during the previous NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
He also told Shah that history will never forgive the party if it did not live up to people's expectations as BJP was their last hope.
His two-page letter, written in Hindi and dated July 10, was posted on the Kangra MP's Facebook and Twitter accounts yesterday.
Kumar's letter stated that when the Jan Sangh was formed, the emphasis was on "value-based politics".
"Gradually, we came to power, and became a ruling party...People started making compromises with those values, and here began the politics of power," he said.
However, Kumar praised Modi's Gujarat model of governance, which he said was an important factor for the overwhelming support the party received during the Lok Sabha polls.
"This was a historic victory under Narendra Modi because of his image and work in Gujarat," he wrote.