BJP anti-graft plank receives body blow

Top leaders hesitate to defend Gadkari

The BJP’s anti-corruption plank has received a double blow, with the principal Opposition party’s chief Nitin Gadkari coming under intense scrutiny for running his business empire that is allegedly not above board and social activist Arvind Kejriwal coming out with a series of big ticket exposes.

The BJP top brass has been openly defending Gadkari, who has agreed to face any inquiry into his business dealings, but some leaders privately concede that the moral high ground they had taken to target the UPA government riddled with scams, like Vadragate, Coalgate, 2G spectrum allocation and CWG, has faced a setback.

The hesitation to go all out against allegations on Gadkari’s business mal practice was reflected in the carefully worded statements top leaders LK Advani, Arun Jaitely and Sushma Swaraj made after media reports. Most of them welcomed the fact that he has agreed to face inquiry whereas   UPA ministers and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra have shied away from probes. 

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday again came out to bat in favour of her president.

“Our party president himself  has said that he is ready for a probe by any agency. He said this not only on the day the allegations cropped up but subsequently also came forward to answer the questions being raised. But the same does not seem to apply to other parties, especially the Congress".

She was of the view that these posers should be fired at the Congress ministers and Robert Vadra facing serious charges of financial irregularities.  "We would like to ask the Congress why are their ministers, who have not answered the questions raised, still in the Cabinet? Are they ready to be probed?" she said. The party has also been jittery that Kejriwal’s stake has gone up after he decided to don the hat of a whistleblower,  post break-up with his mentor Anna Hazare. 

Kejriwal will make a dent into the vote bank of the BJP,  which too had thought of capitalizing on corruption issue as it felt that Bofors moment had arrived in the politics to oust Congress from power.  Kejriwal’s charges, though weak, of Gadkari using his clout with NCP chief Sharad Pawar to take over farmers’ land in Maharastra was also aimed more to send out a signal that the social activist is not Team B of the BJP.

 Political observers believe it would be difficult for the BJP and RSS to hold on to Gadkari as party president if the government probe throws evidence against him. Gadkari is also able to deflect the corruption heat owing to the support he has got from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

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