NEW DELHI: The BJP was left red-faced on Wednesday as the Congress launched an all-out attack after the saffron party inducted tainted former BSP ministers Babu Singh Kushwaha and Badshah Singh into its fold, and questioned its anti-corruption plank.
It was a tense day for the BJP which began with a meeting of senior party leaders -including Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi, and Rajnath Singh -- at the residence of party president Nitin Gadkari.
The meeting was essentially a stock-taking session, after the tainted duo was inducted into the party.
Sources said that after L K Advani (who had only recently undertaken his jan chetna yatra against corruption) had made known his displeasure over the development, the meeting saw Jaitley voicing serious concern over the induction of the former BSP men, who are embroiled in corruption cases.
The CBI on Wednesday searched Kushwaha’s residence for his alleged involvement in a multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam.
BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi defended Kushwaha’s induction into the party.
Incidentally, the BJP had taken on the BSP Government in the NRHM fraud case three days ago, with BJP national secretary Kirit Somaiya even naming family members of Kushwaha and UP Chief Minister Mayawati as “beneficiaries of the scam”.
On Wednesday, the BJP, while asserting that the party “would not shield the guilty”, wondered how Kushwaha’s house was raided by the CBI a day after he joined the BJP.
“It’s at the behest of the Central Government,” said Naqvi.
In the same breath he added: “The BJP would not protect those guilty of crime and corruption. It’s the Congress that has entered into a deal with the ruling BSP in the state. We want those involved in the corruption cases to be probed and punished.”
An embarrassed BJP also clarified that Kushwaha would not get a party ticket to contest the state elections, and his name does not figure in the third candidates’ list released by the party for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
After the BJP central election committee met to finalise candidates’ list, party general secretary Ananth Kumar, while releasing the lists, said that corruption, whether at the Centre or in Mayawati-run Uttar Pradesh, would be the main poll plank of the party.
The BJP released its third list of 77 candidates for the polls, which includes at least two tainted candidates -- Chatrapal Singh (Anupshahar) and Sacchidanand Hari Shakshi Maharaj (Bhongaon).
The BJP also declared 12 names for the Manipur elections and three names for the Punjab elections (which includes BJP MP Navjot Singh Siddhu’s wife for the Amritsar East seat).