New Delhi, April 29: BJP MPs in Uttar Pradesh have protested the move to reinduct Kalyan Singh into the party on his conditions and have sought to convey their feelings to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The “keep Kalyan at bay” campaign has been started by Ghazipur MP Manoj Sinha who raised the matter at the BJP parliamentary party meeting this morning.
According to sources, Sinha read out newspaper reports that quoted Kalyan as describing Vajpayee as a “tired man” who allowed his government to be run by “retired bureaucrats” and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani as a “coward”.
Sinha said the BJP would be shown up to be a “party of convenience” if it were still prepared to bring back Kalyan after the remarks he made in a public meeting last week in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Vajpayee had left by the time Sinha spoke, but Advani was around and said nothing, sources said.
They added that Sinha managed to get the backing of Lok Sabha MPs Sheila Gautam, Shyam Bihari Mishra and Ram Nagina Mishra as well as Bihar law-makers Madan Prasad Jaiswal and Lal Munni Choubey.
One MP said during the last elections, Kalyan had worked “overtime” to get him defeated by directing the polling officers to “fudge” the ballot papers and not allow people to vote. “Despite this, I won because of my ground-level support,” he said.
Others said Vajpayee himself was a victim of Kalyan's machinations in the 1999 elections, winning his Lucknow seat “by a miracle”.
They said that if the BJP wanted to bring back Kalyan, they should at least “extract an unconditional apology from him”.
The MPs said: “It should not be forgotten that this is the man who said his biggest mistake was to have joined the BJP and become a RSS swayamsevak. He said the Ram mandir agitation was meant to deceive Hindus. How are we going to explain this to our voters' Our opponents will exploit this to the fullest.”
A section of those present at the meeting thought Kalyan represented the state BJP's only way out of its current morass.
Jaunpur MP Swami Chinmayanand said, “I always believe estranged leaders should be given a chance to come back and prove themselves again. Kalyan may be saying all those unpleasant things to increase his bargaining power but I am sure he is actually on good terms with our leaders.”
Those in favour of rehabilitating the former chief minister felt the “Kalyan card” was a good way of showing chief minister Mayavati that the BJP was not “entirely at her mercy” and had other options.