New Delhi, Jan. 28: The BJP central leadership is perceptibly divided on the use of the anti-terror law by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati against Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh and his father, Udai Pratap Singh.
While BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu appeared wary of criticising his Uttar Pradesh ally, former chief minister Rajnath Singh — also BJP general-secretary — became more strident in his criticism today.
Rajnath said: “She (Mayavati) is practising a very vindictive brand of politics. She said she was willing to pardon the crimes of all those who would join her party. What does this mean' That if you are a BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) member, you cease to be a criminal'”
Asked if the anti-terror law issue would affect the fate of the BJP-BSP coalition in Uttar Pradesh, Rajnath threw up his hands, looked skywards and said: “Bhagwan hi malik hain (Only God knows).”
Unlike Rajnath, Naidu was guarded when the media asked for his reaction. “The BJP is of the view that Pota is an effective instrument to fight terrorism. (The) law should be used against terrorists and not against non-terrorists,” he said.
Maintaining that the BJP had termed MDMK chief Vaiko’s arrest under the anti-terror law “inappropriate and a case of misapplication”, Naidu, however, was reluctant to use the same terms against Raghuraj Pratap, alias Raja Bhaiyya, and his father. “Whether Pota has similarly been used against them needs to be looked into,” he said.
Naidu told reporters that BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley was in touch with the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit and had sought details, which he reportedly received.
Jaitley said he was “still studying” the FIR.
Naidu emphasised that the matter would not affect his party’s alliance with the BSP.
Indications are that Rajnath — who was isolated when he opposed the Uttar Pradesh coalition arrangement — may find himself without company again because the party central leaders are unanimous that the alliance should continue till the Lok Sabha polls next year.
Naidu, however, is apparently perturbed at Uttar Pradesh BJP president Vinay Katiyar’s endorsement of Rajnath’s stand. Katiyar is as sympathetic to Raja Bhaiyya as the former chief minister.
UP trio summoned
A court trying cases under the anti-terror law in Kanpur has summoned Raja Bhaiyya, his father, Udai Pratap Singh, and MLC Akshay Pratap Singh on February 12.
Detention orders under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were served on them on Saturday following the arrest of Uday Pratap Singh on charges of conspiring to kill the chief minister.
Raja Bhaiyya and Akshay Pratap Singh are already in jail under the Gangster Act.
The summons were issued by the court’s presiding officer, Shailendra Saxena — who is also district judge of Kanpur city — after Pratapgarh police moved an application for summoning and arresting the trio under the anti-terrorism law.