NEW DELHI: The induction of former tainted BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha into the BJP fold continued to embarrass the BJP with the party forced to say on Thursday that “he will be expelled from the party if corruption charges against him are proved.”
Kushwaha, once considered Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s Man Friday, was also known for his following among the Kushwahas, besides the Mauryas, Shakyas, and Sainis (all OBC communities) of the state, who together form about 8 per cent of the state electorate.
Keen to add to its around 18 per cent vote base and expand among the non-Yadav OBCs, the BJP considered Kushwaha an important instrument. With his expulsion from the BSP, the BJP sensed an opportunity and state BJP president Surya Pratap Shahi led from the front in wooing him.
Shahi is said to have aggressively lobbied for Kushwaha’s induction into the party. While he was in touch with national president Nitin Gadkari, the latter also took on board general secretary in charge of the state Narendra Singh Tomar and Vinay Katiyar, another OBC leader from the state. Sanjay Joshi, now in charge of Uttar Pradesh, and Rakesh Jain, the RSS appointee ‘sangathan mantri’ looking after the state, were also consulted.
After Gadkari was convinced of Kushwaha’s ‘vote-catching abilities’, there was no looking back on Kushwaha’s induction into the party, say party insiders. He also consulted a couple of key Central leaders before taking a final call. Once the party organised the photo-opportunity at the party headquarters, welcoming Kushwaha (besides Badshah Singh) into the party, many leaders were, however, taken by surprise.
BJP parliamentary party chairman L K Advani, who recently undertook his ‘Jan Chetna Yatra’ against corruption, was said to be surprised. While no mainline BJP leader has commented on the issue, some suggested that there was a rift in the party on the lines of ‘parliamentary party’ versus ‘organisation’. Only two on-record voices against Kushwaha’s induction have been heard so far. Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath was the first to protest. Another MP Kirti Azad on Thursday supported him and said the ‘mistakes, if any, will be rectified by the party at the earliest’.
RSS spokesperson Bajrang Lal Gupta, too, sounded a word of caution. “It is a well-known fact that people with a tainted past are bound to be rejected by the people. There cannot be two opinions on that,” said Gupta. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, too, voiced his disapproval of the development.