Monday, May 30, 2011

Sushma Swaraj interview reveals BJP fissures

Part of this report had been published in DNA issue of May 29, 2011.

Some party leaders accept, others reject, rivalry at the top

New Delhi: The interview of Sushma Swaraj. Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has caused further ripples in the already troubled waters of the main opposition party both at the centre and in Karnataka.

A member of the party from Karnataka speaking to DNA on condition of anonymity said, “There is the rivalry between Sushmaji and Arun Jaitleyji. This quarrel among the central leaders of the party will certainly affect the image of the party.”

Mr Kalraj Mishra, a senior party leader and member of parliament (MP) from Uttar Pradesh, says that there are no differences between Ms Swaraj and Mr Jaitley, and that this is nothing but the imagination of the media. When told that this was an interview that Ms Swaraj gave to the magazine, he said that he has been touring Bundelkhand in his home state and he has not seen the interview. But he stuck to his position that there are no differences between the two leaders.

He also pointed out that the choice of ministers was the prerogative of the chief minister, in this case that of Mr Yeddyurappa, and that neither Ms Swaraj nor Ms Jaitley could have had any say in the issue.

Mr Vinay Katiyar, another BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh and member of Rajya Sabha, speaking to DNA from Ayodhya said that unlike other political parties like the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the BJP was not family-centric party. “We are the only democratic party in the country, and in this party every member has a right to express his or her views.” He has however cationed that he has not read Ms Swaraj's interview and he did not what the furore is all about.

The Karanataka leader had however said that it is ironical that Mrs Swaraj should be taking a different position now. When chief minister B.S,Yeddyurappa said that he could take only two of the Bellary's Reddy brothers into the cabinet – Karuna and Sriramulu – but she had insisted on the inclusion of the third brother, Janardhan Reddy, too. It was because of her pressure that Mr Yeddyurappa and Mr Jaitley had to give in to her demand. He is confident that the Swaraj intereview has no impact on the stability of the Yeddyurappa government.

The differences among the BJP's top brass have been simmering for a long time now, though they have not ever spilled over. Ms Swaraj and Mr Jaitley take care to project an image of being together, and the man who seems to keep the flock together as such seems to be their mentor, Mr. L.K.Advani.

It is now accepted that it was Mr Advani who had handpicked and handed over the leadership role in the two Houses of Parliament to Ms Swaraj (Lok Sabha) and Mr Jaitley (Rajya Sabha). Both are seen as his proteges, though the two leaders now stand on their own.

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