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    OpinionsND Tiwari: How BJP was twice bitten, still not shy

    ND Tiwari: How BJP was twice bitten, still not shy


    ND Tiwari: How BJP was twice bitten, still not shy

    Ashok Upadhyay

    “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram” has been a time-honoured practice in Indian , especially ahead of elections when shifting loyalties define the scenario. The unwritten rules of this popular practice include politicians seeking greener pastures and parties accepting the maximum number of turncoats, something that is perceived as a decision flowing out of popular sentiment.

    This practice has become so common that the voters too are no longer bothered to spend much time thinking about it. But even then some desertions and inductions stand out.

    Controversy over veteran Congress leader Narayan Dutt Tiwari's association with the BJP reminds me of three fiascos faced by the saffron party. Interestingly, all three happened on the eve of elections and the BJP used three different excuses to write off the controversial inductions. On the morning of January 18, news channels started flashing that Tiwari will be joining the BJP. It was followed by the nonagenarian leader's visit to BJP president Amit Shah at the latter's residence. Tiwari was accompanied by son Rohit Shekhar.

    A PTI report announcing that “Congress veteran Tiwari joined BJP along with son Rohit and wife Ujjwala”, provided Twitter users with an opportunity to crack some mean jokes about the former UP chief minister's intriguing sex life.

    Some netizens even wondered what made the BJP induct a 91-year-old into the party. While the jibes considerably embarrassed BJP supporters, party leaders clarified by evening that only Rohit Shekhar has joined them. “Tiwari has only extended his support to the party.”

    But that was not something that Tiwari's son, Rohit Shekhar, seem to know because he went on to say, “We have joined the BJP without setting any terms and conditions.”

    So, now we have Tiwari's son saying that the veteran leader has joined the saffron party, but the BJP trying to distance itself from him.

    Ahead of the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the BJP had inducted former state family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, who was earlier a BSP member.Just a day after he joined the BJP, Kushwaha's premises were raided for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Rural Mission (NRHM) scam. This led to a massive uproar. Kalyan Singh, a two-time former UP chief minister and now Rajasthan governor, had then alleged a “financial deal” behind the induction of the former BSP minister.

    While BJP veteran LK Advani and other senior party leaders were miffed over the decision (to induct Kushwaha), there were rumours that the party's campaign manager Uma Bharti had threatened to pull out of campaigning if it was not revoked.

    Facing criticism from all sides, the BJP eventually suspended his membership. A BJP spokesperson even claimed that Kushwaha himself requested the party to suspend his membership till he is proven “innocent”. No one knows if his membership continues to remain suspended. Again in 2004, ahead of the , the then BJP president Venkaiah Naidu had welcomed controversial Rajya Sabha MP DP Yadav into the party fold. The Uttar Pradesh strongman, Yadav, was also known as a hardened professional criminal, according to UP police records.

    This induction raised questions over the BJP's avowed principles of “chaal, charitra aur chehra (character and image)”. Facing flak from the media and opposition parties, the BJP withdrew his membership within four days.

    So while Yadav and Kushwaha were shown the door, the BJP this time around flatly denied reports of Tiwari joining the saffron party.

    The party could have saved itself the embarrassment and avoided the controversies these inductions stoked by doing a bit of homework. Thrice bitten, the BJP in future will hopefully do away with such hasty inductions. The party, after all, has one of the most charismatic leaders of recent times leading it from the front.

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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