BJP in damage control mode as Sushma blames Jaitley

The BJP was in a damage-control mode on Saturday after senior leader Sushma Swaraj appeared to blame Arun Jaitley and others for the rise of mining magnates Reddy brothers in Karnataka.

Last Updated: May 28, 2011, 19:30 PM IST

New Delhi: The BJP was in a damage-control
mode on Saturday after senior leader Sushma Swaraj appeared to blame
Arun Jaitley and others for the rise of mining magnates Reddy
brothers in Karnataka, bringing to the surface tensions among
the party`s generation next leaders.

A day after Swaraj sought to distance herself from the
Reddy brothers-- Karnataka ministers K Janardhan and K
Karunakar-- widely perceived to be her proteges, saying they
were inducted into the government at the instance of Jaitley,
chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, Ananth Kumar and M Venkaiah
Naidu, she maintaned she had no role in it.

Her remarks in an interview to `Outlook` magazine
brought to the fore perceived differences among the second
generation of BJP leadership and the party was today forced to
do some damage control.

Both Swaraj and Jaitley refused comments even as
Congress sought to exploit the discomfort in the opposition
party, saying there was a "civil war" in BJP.

Former BJP President Rajnath Singh was the first to come
out with a statement dismissing differences between the Leader
of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and her counterpart in Rajya
Sabha.

"Reports of a rift between Sushma Swaraj and Arun
Jaitley are baseless. This is true that Arun was in-charge of
Karnataka. I had sent him there as I was president (of BJP)
during cabinet formation," Singh said.

However, he said he took responsibility for all that
happened in Karnataka and nobody could be blamed for that. The
selection of ministers is also the Chief Minister`s
prerogative, he said.

"If responsibility is to be fixed, then it should be
fixed on me as I was the party president. There were some
political compulsions due to which some decisions had to be
taken (during cabinet formation). It was going to be our first
government in the South with BJP having a clear majority. We
wanted to form a Karnataka-friendly government," he said.

Singh also said he had made Jaitley Karnataka in-charge
and all decisions taken by the central leadership at that time
had his consent.

He also accepted that in 2009, when the Reddy brothers
had revolted against Yeddyurappa, he had sought the services
of Swaraj to talk to the mining barons to end the crisis.

Swaraj had also claimed in the interview that she was
asked to talk to the Reddy brothers and convince them to give
up their demand for Yeddyurappa`s removal.

She maintained she had not acted as the protector of the
Reddy brothers and had "no role in the political making" of
the mining magnates. In fact, she emphasised she was opposed
to three members of a family finding berths in the cabinet.

The third Reddy brother - Somashekhar - has a ministerial
status.

PTI