BJP silent over Shourie, Raje fate

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 27 2009, 04:11am hrs
Up against controversies one after the other, the BJP on Tuesday changed track on the issues relating to senior leaders Arun Shourie as well as Vasundhara Raje, deciding to tread cautiously instead of any hasty decision like the expulsion of Jaswant Singh that had elicited widespread criticism.

Avoiding immediate action against Shourie as had been expected, the party instead said this evening that it had sought a clarification from the senior leader who had let loose a barrage of attack against the entire leadership on Monday, saying that nothing short of a drastic measure like complete replacement of the top brass, would help the BJP. In fact, the party was at pains to underline that the clarification was not even a notice.

The party has called for a clarification from Arun Shourie (over his remarks). This is not a show-cause notice. Nor has he been sent a notice seeking explanation. Only a clarification has been sought, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday. In an interview to Indian Express editor in chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTVs Walk the Talk, Shourie had called Rajnath Singh a Alice in Blunderland, the entire BJP leadership as humpty dumpty and likened the party to a kati patang.

Party sources, however, were at pains to explain the nature of the course of action on Tuesday, saying that a compilation of his statements in the recent past was being made and would be put before him in a day or two for a detailed reply. The day had started with indications that the BJPs parliamentary board would be meeting in the morning at senior leader LK Advanis house to take up the Arun Shourie matter. Sources however said the meeting could not be held after Advani reported sick with a toothache. Party president Rajnath Singh subsequently held a meeting of officebearers in the BJP headquarters where the decision to tread cautiously was taken. A meeting of the parliamentary board is likely to be held on Wednesday.

On the Rajasthan front, the stalemate vis-a-vis Vasundhara Raje continued as she returned to Jaipur without any clarity on whether and when she would quit as leader of the opposition in the state assembly. During the day, rumor mills were active with reports that reconciliation talks between party president Rajnath Singh and Raje had broken down, after the former refused to accept demands put up by the former Rajasthan chief minister.

According to party sources Raje has put three demands in return for her stepping down as leader of opposition. She wanted a person of her choice to succeed her, revocation of the suspension of two of her loyalist MLAs and rehabilitation as a general secretary in the BJP lineup. Singh, however, reportedly refused to concede to her demand to appoint one of her supporters as leader of opposition, arguing that it would not end factionalism in the Rajasthan unit.

Raje has now called a meeting of the BJP MLAs in Jaipur on Wednesday, which party circles here are interpreted it as yet another show of defiance. However, some of her close aides contended that the meeting was being called to discuss the forthcoming assembly session. We are confident that a solution acceptable to both the Centre and Raje will be reached very soon, Gyan Dev Ahuja, one of the suspended MLAs, said.

There were, however, contradictory voices emanating from different quarters in the party, signalling amply that the party was a divided house. In Mumbai, senior leader Ram Naik, who heads the BJPs disciplinary panel, said that Shouries action was an act of gross indiscipline.

Naik however said it was upto the party to decide on the form of action to be taken against Shourie.