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BJP veterans back Azad, Advani to write to PM

The veterans of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) including L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Yashwant Sinha have come to the defence of suspended party MP Kirti Azad and the former Deputy Prime Minister has even decided to write a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.

The issue seems to be snowballing into a bigger controversy as there is an imminent internal political crisis surrounding this. And this time, the reason for BJP’s embarrassment is because of a case that is strictly related to corruption and not a scathing attack on any individual in particular.

Even BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha came out in support of Azad and asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to follow the example of L K Advani, who had resigned over the “hawala” case, and “come clean” as “advised” by the Prime Minister. Sinha, who has been critical of the party leadership over a host of issues, also took a dig at it, saying the “party with a difference has become party with differences”.

Interestingly, this has been a long-drawn affair and Kirti Azad has been raising the issue of alleged corruption at the DDCA for the past nine years but never made it a party issue.

Meanwhile, the party elders met after Azad called on them to come forward and look into the issue at a press conference on Thursday morning. He said: “I hope the Prime Minister will listen to my plea and do justice. I will also ask margdarshak mandal to come forward and look into the issue.”

At the veterans’ meeting held at Murli Manohar Joshi’s residence, Azad’s suspension was unanimously condemned saying that the party leadership did not follow norms in taking action against the member. Earlier in the day, Azad had also received support from the party’s maverick leader Subramanian Swamy.

Veterans are reported to have taken umbrage at the fact that just four of the 12 parliamentary board members – party president Amit Shah, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Health Minister JP Nadda and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were present. The parliamentary board members who were not a part of the decision included — Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Ananth Kumar, Social Welfare Minister Thawarchand Gehlot and the party’s organising secretary Ramlal.

According to sources, the veterans had initially decided to issue a joint statement as they had done in the matter of Bihar debacle; however, later they decided to write a “strong” letter to Prime Minister Modi on the haste shown in suspending a MP who was trying to raise issues of corruption.

“The party leadership has flouted BJP’s procedural norms as a member in question has to be first issued a show-cause notice and a stipulated time given for explanation. This is the general norm of the party which applies to every registered member and if the party leadership doesn’t get a satisfactory justification from a member in question, action is taken against the member,” said a source close to the veterans.

The sources further added that Advani, through his letter, would apprise Modi that the matter of alleged corruption in Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) was being raised by Azad for the last several years and he has not talked about alleged involvement of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the irregularities.

“Such a move by the BJP will send a message that the party is suppressing the voices of its whistleblowers against corruption,” sources said quoting Advani.

“The party veterans would also write to Modi explaining that only four out of 12 members of party’s Parliamentary Board were present in the meeting, when the contentious decision was approved,” the sources said.
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