In Arun Jaitley vs Kirti Azad, A Growing Crisis For The BJP

New  Delhi: The Arun Jaitley vs Kirti Azad battle is snowballing into a major crisis for the BJP and the government it leads. And beyond public statements, it is gearing up to battle another raging fire within.

Kirti Azad, a party lawmaker, has stopped just short of naming union finance minister and his senior party colleague Arun Jaitley, while alleging corruption in Delhi’s cricket body DDCA, which the latter headed for 13 years.

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Today, Mr Azad raised the issue twice in the Lok Sabha, seeking a CBI investigation monitored by a special investigation team into his allegations. He signed off by reminding the House, “and we know who was heading the DDCA between 2008 and 2013,” a reference to Mr Jaitley.

This is unprecedented in BJP history. There have been rebellions, but never before has a party lawmaker targeted a minister on the floor of the House and at a time when the Opposition is gunning for the minister.

None of the BJP’s seniors present in the Lok Sabha intervened or tried to stop Mr Azad, who, party sources said, has managed to defy a whip from party president Amit Shah, who had met him twice on Friday and conveyed that going public with more charges against Mr Jaitley would hurt the party and the government.

Mr Azad, however, held a press conference on Sunday and made strong allegations without naming Mr Jaitley.

This morning he tweeted, “hello dear @arunjaitley hampar defemation file kar rahe ho na? Please karo na Don’t take injunction, don’t gag freedom of speech. (sic)”

Mr Azad has not been publicly reprimanded by the party chief. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not intervened either and the issue has not been flagged to the disciplinary committee of the BJP.

Today when Mr Jaitley went to the Patiala House courts to file a statement in a criminal defamation case against leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party, he was accompanied by five union ministers – JP Nadda, Smriti Irani, Piyush Goel, Dharmendra Pradhan and Rajyavardhan Rathore. Most of them are seen as close to Mr Jaitley.

And though many ministers have made public statements supporting Mr Jaitley, none of his colleagues among the government’s top five, like Home Minister Rajnath Singh or Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, have spoken yet.

The DDCA row threatens to open up fault-lines in the BJP. Mr Azad is perceived to be close to some senior BJP leaders with whom Mr Jaitley has had a rocky relationship over the last one decade.

And though Rajnath Singh is number two in the government, it’s no secret that Mr Jaitley has been seen as the most powerful minister in the government after the Prime Minister, a matter of much heartburn for his rivals in the party.

After the revolt of “elders” led by LK Advani over the party’s Bihar election debacle, the Azad attack is seen as yet another attempt by those sidelined by the rise of PM Modi and his close aides like Mr Jaitley, to weaken their grip.

Mr Jaitley has sued Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders for defamation over their DDCA allegations, but not against Mr Azad. “The case has been filed against those who have been naming individuals,” explained Mr Rathore.

BJP sources said that by not including Mr Azad, Mr Jaitley has left the room open for the party to act against him. The questions being asked now is, will the BJP?

3 Comments

  1. Growing crisis? Rebellion? Why can’t media do the right thing by supporting these democratic fights that are very important to root out the corruption? Media seems to have this strange notion that party members should support party even in corruption cases!! I’m glad that Keerthi Azaad is speaking out. We don’t know if Jaitley is corrupt or not. However, if there is nothing to hide, why so much restrictions on Mr.Azaad?

  2. Original R. Pai,

    If one takes a raw or ripe mango and throws it from the visitors’ gallery into the Lok Sabha, it will hit a M.P. and probably rebound and hit another one, before falling on the floor. The chances of hitting a corrupt politician are 99%. Arun Jaitley is not fractionally as pure as Dalai Lama, Desmnd Tutu or Mother Teresa or the old man passing in front of my abode, yelling out for people to sell off their newspapers and magazines (and though poor, leading a life of respect and dignity).

    In fact, most Indian politicians are corrupt, though the money they have acquired through dubious ways may vary from a few crores to thousands of crores. Media had completely exposed Sushma Swaraj’s and Vasundara Raje’s involvement in saving and baling out Lalit Modi, whose is very close friend and involved in nefarious business activities (as exposed by TIMES NOW). When media would ask questions to Arun Jaitley, he would not say anything, but utter these five words, “but they are not tainted”. For all you know, after Arun Jaitley’s name has been exposed in the D.D.C.A. irregularities, he may be another one in Suresh Kalmadi mould. Dal mey kooch kala hai.

    I would accuse Narendra Modi of many things and also praise him for other good qualities, but that man is not corrupt. However. that cannot be said of his cabinet ministers and other politicians in the party. Most Indian politicians, irrespective of which parties they are affiliated to, have read the book, “HONOUR AMONG THIEVES,” by Jeffrey Archer. The way one Indian politician accuses another politician across the political divide is quite hilarious, because it is like one drunkard, during his brief periods of sobriety, accusing the other person of being a drunkard of the first order. In fact, both are the same. Do you agree with me, B.N. Pai or still sing the song, “Singh is King,” and “Sonia and Rahul are the best?” I remember Bishen Singh Bedi calling Muttiah Murlidharan a chucker for his suspect action and I also felt the same. My opinion is that if any bowler has a suspect bowling action either due to deformities or not, he should not bowl in first class cricket, but can play as a batsman or wicket-keeper or for his fielding abilities. I have high regards for Muttiah Muralidharan as a good, humble, down-to-earth and decent person, but I have not considered him to be a bowler.

    I admire Kirti Azad for blowing-the-whistle, which calls for extreme guts and Bishen Singh Bedi (a no-nonsense man) has backed him to the hilt.

    I am confident that Kirti Azad is having facts to be bold enough and has shown utter disdain by defying Amit Shah in going ahead with the press conference. If Kirti Azad was a man lacking in qualities, he would have induged in boot-licking to get cushy assignments in DDCA or BCCI. In BCCI, we have cricketers who are of the softer stuff and opportunists that enjoy money, travel to exotic places, have food and drinks at fancy restaurants, stay in plush hotels and, who knows, what fun and frolic they have, all thanks to BCCI. All they have done is to keep their mouths shut by not exposing the goings-on in BCCI to have fantastic times of their lives.

    BCCI is a huge cauldron of honey that attracts flies, viz. politicians, corporate honchos, professionals, ex-cricketers, et al.

    The country needs people like Kirti Azad, be it politics or in any other fields.

  3. Agree with Nelson. Anyone with minimum IQ and integrity would know how corrupt and useless our politicians are. Remember – politicians are an extension of our society. In a way, our politicians are showing us how corrupt our society has become!

    Narendra Modi needs to do what’s right, not what’s politically expedient. The latter may work in short term but it would eventually lead to his downfall. We all understand how he has an impossible task of leading a political party which is no less corrupt that Congress! However, it’s no excuse for not doing the right things. I never liked ‘Sushma Swaraj Modi’ to begin with! She always came across as an opportunist. Same goes with Nitin ‘dumma’ Gadkari. I don’t know if Jaitley is corrupt or not. However, it doesn’t mean that we need to shut down anyone who questions his record. It’s anti-democratic.

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