As turncoat politician and ex-JD(U) leader Sabir Ali, welcomed at the front gates of 11, Ashoka Road — the BJP headquarters — on Friday, got ousted from the back door on Saturday in a trail of controversy, the party top leadership bickered among themselves, proving yet again it’s a parivar no more.
No sooner had Ravi Shankar Prasad, newly appointed BJP media head for 2014 elections, read out party president Rajnath Singh’s terse message: “Sabir Ali’s membership has been annulled,” senior leader Arun Jaitley, campaigning for his election in Amritsar, chose to differ. “Whether a person is innocent or guilty should be decided by the judiciary, not the media. But these days there is huge pressure from social media also, public vigilance has increased,” said Jaitley, mustering all the legal heft he’s known for to argue the case.
The faultline in the party: in Ali’s entry and exit, was out in the open. While his entry brought Dharmendra Pradhan, Bihar in-charge of the party and Rajnath Singh himself, in the line of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s fire, his exit showed Jaitley was not in sync with the decision. Not many had heard about Ali till his entry into the BJP, in the midst of a bitterly fought Lok Sabha election, led to a virtual revolt within the saffron fold.
“Visa on entry” is what the policy of doling out election tickets and prominence to controversial new entrants is sarcastically being described as by senior BJP leaders. Some of whom, like Naqvi on Ali’s entry, have gone public with their opposition. An angry Naqvi tweeted that Ali’s entry was subversion of the party’s basic ideology of fighting forces that are seen to be inimical to the Indian state. What next he asked: entry ticket to Dawood?
Such was the harshness of reaction that an unnerved Ali — a former JD(U) leader and Rajya Sabha member — offered to keep his induction into the BJP in abeyance. He said till an enquiry cleared his name of the allegation that he sheltered Indian Mujahideen’s Yasin Bhatkal in his house, he would remain outside. But that was not enough. A series of similar “dubious entries” had already brought a section of the BJP’s old guard to boiling point.