UP BJP leaders blame Kushwaha episode for debacle

Lucknow, April 17: The disconnect and the discontent straining the national and the Uttar Pradesh unit leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is slowly trickling out in the open.

Over a month after its crushing defeat in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, state leaders have begun a “post-mortem” on the party’s debacle and most are candidly admitting that party national president Nitin Gadkari’s “political romance” with the Bahujan Samaj Party’s tainted leader Babu Singh Kushwaha cost the party dearly.

This candour has taken many by surprise and some even by shock as these are the same leaders who till recently were selling Kushwaha’s entry into the party as “an effort to save a wronged OBC leader who was used and then dumped into political oblivion by the ruling BSP”. Smarting under a never before humiliation at the hustings in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has made the chinks in its armour more obvious than ever.

On Monday, former BJP state president Surya Pratap Shahi made it clear that he was not taken into confidence on the Kushwaha entry into the party fold and that he was “informed two hours prior to the entry”. However, Shahi and party vice-president Vinay Katiyar had welcomed the former BSP leader into the party with a bouquet of roses.

“This was the worst moment for us, a time when we were fighting graft, here we were hugging a thoroughly corrupt man,” a senior leader told IANS.

Kalraj Mishra, senior BJP leader, told IANS that the “development had certainly dented the party’s image” while former national president and chief minister Rajnath Singh too conceded that Kushwaha’s entry “did not help the party in the state assembly polls”.

With the change in guard in Uttar Pradesh’s state unit, the party leaders have now become more vocal about the reasons why the party fared so poorly in the polls.

“We cannot just be blamed and rapped,” said a leader and added that changing the leaders would not help the party in the long run. With the state BJP leaders going ballistic, the party’s national president Nitin Gadkari might face some rough weather now.

Babu Singh Kushwaha, one of Mayawati’s most trusted “backroom boys” was forced to resign as state minister on April 7, 2011, after his name surfaced in the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission funds scam and the murder of two chief medical officers – B.P. Singh and V.K. Arya. He was taken by the BJP just before the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls but was eased out after much hue and cry both within and outside the party.

IANS