New Delhi: The BJP’s move to welcome in its fold BSP’s corrupt faces - Babu Singh Kushwaha and Badshah Singh – has not gone down well with the RSS.
In an editorial published on Thursday in its Hindi publication ‘Panchajanya’, the RSS has called on people in Uttar Pradesh not to vote for candidates who are facing criminal charges. The BJP ideologue has further urged people not to elect candidates who have been party hopping.
The RSS even went on to say that no political party in the country can boast of having internal democracy.
The RSS criticism comes a day after the CBI raided several premises of Kushwaha, sacked by BSP chief Mayawati on corruption charges, for his alleged involvement in a multi-crore rural health scam.
The RSS criticism and embarrassment caused by Kushwaha’s induction does not augur well for the BJP ahead of polls in Uttar Pradesh due in February.
The issue has already triggered a fresh political row between the Congress and BJP.
The Congress yesterday lost no time in attacking the BJP over backing the tainted former minister, but the saffron party put up a brave face to ward off criticism.
The searches by the CBI, which the BJP termed as politically motivated, were conducted in connection with alleged financial irregularities in the supply of medicines and medical equipment in the Rs 10,000 crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh.
Kushwaha, a prominent OBC leader and once a trusted lieutenant of BSP chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, was removed as family welfare minister in April following his alleged involvement in the embezzlement. He was sacked from the BSP in November.
Justifying Kushwaha’s induction, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters in New Delhi that the timing of the CBI search operation was suspect.
“The BJP is not a shield for corrupt people. But the CBI raids seem motivated. Why did the CBI take so long for carrying out searches,” Naqvi told reporters.
BJP state chief Surya Pratap Shahi, who got Kushwaha into the party said “we will defend our decision” to induct him.
Other BJP leaders like Vinay Katiyar and Ananth Kumar also supported Kushwaha, saying the law will take its own course against him.
The party however clarified that Kushwaha, charged with criminal misconduct and misuse of office in implementing the scheme, will not be given a ticket for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
However, divisions appeared in the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday with opposition within the ranks as well as from the allies to the induction of a scam-accused former Uttar Pradesh minister even as the Congress sharpened its attack, questioning the purpose of party veteran LK Advani`s anti-corruption `rath yatra`.
Party leaders, including party chief Nitin Gadkari, maintained a studded silence on the issue.
Safrron-clad BJP MP, Yogi Adityanath, feared the party could face the consequences at the hustings in February.
"The corrupt leaders in Mayawati`s and Mulayam Singh Yadav`s parties are being taken in the BJP keeping in mind UP Assembly elections. This could prove harmful for the party," Adityanath, the MP from Gorakhpur, told a TV news channel from the eastern Uttar Pradesh city.
"How can a person, who was corrupt in Mulayam and Mayawati`s party, become clean after joining BJP," he questioned.
The BJP`s central leadership evaded questions on the issue.
Party leader Arun Jaitley refused to answer any questions when asked about Kushwaha as he came out after meeting President Pratibha Patil on the Lokpal bill.
Gadkari, who was in Jhansi to address an election rally in the heart of the Bundelkhand region here, not only shunned even a passing reference to Kushwaha, who until Wednesday was described by party leaders as a "prominent OBC (Other backward class) leader from Bundelkhand," but also parried queries by media persons on the issue.
Meanwhile, Janata Dal-United leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said his party was opposed allowing tainted leaders in.
"There are differences within the party (BJP) on how this issue has to be handled, so we have to see what their final decision is. But it is not a good tradition, people will not like it," he said.
The Congress continued its attack on the BJP on the issue.
Taking a dig at the party, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said the BJP was like the River Ganga and corrupt people could be purified by sending them to the party.
"If BJP is like Ganga, what is the need for Janlokpal. Send all corrupt people to BJP," he said.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister`s Office, V Narayanasamy questioned the anti-corruption campaign led by Advani in 2011.
"The BJP has been telling that they are for anti-corruption initiative, Advani was going for `rath yatra` to curb corruption... and their party is taking corrupt people with them," Narayanasamy said.
"This makes it clear that they preach sermons to others, it does not apply to them."
Taking the controversy to the Anna Hazare camp, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi questioned his team`s silence on the issue.
"Why is Team Anna silent on Babu Singh issue," he asked, adding: "While they were saying they will campaign against Congress, they have not uttered a single word on BJP."
With IANS inputs