The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani reveals whip hand

New Delhi, Sept. 6: The BJP central leadership today recommended the expulsion of party veteran Madan Lal Khurana for “gross indiscipline” in a move sources said was a warning to dissidents ahead of the crucial Chennai national executive next week.

The five-member disciplinary committee, headed by former Union petroleum minister Ram Naik, said Khurana ' a former Delhi chief minister ' was being punished for discussing BJP matters outside party forums, especially before the media.

“He has ridiculed the party. He has tried to run down the party president and the office-bearers by referring to them as a ‘caucus’. He publicly said he cannot work under (L.K.) Advaniji. There is a limit to what the party will take even from a leader of Khuranaji’s stature,” Naik said.

The sources said by sacrificing someone believed to be a “soft target”, Advani hopes to leash dissidents who could embarrass him at the Chennai executive, which begins on September 16.

Asked if the move could be interpreted as a warning to dissidents, Naik said: “Such severe punishment, especially to a leader who has been associated with the party for such a long time, always acts as a deterrent.”

Technically, the committee’s recommendation has to be approved by the party president and Khurana stands a chance if he apologises to Advani. But Naik ruled that out.

“There has been no such precedent,” he said.

A “hurt” Khurana is in no mood to apologise. “I have been punished for raising ideological questions. I have been a loyal soldier of the party for 40 years. I am hurt that they decided to expel me without even listening to my side of the story. The BJP I knew was like a family. All of us were like family members. But now it has become a private limited company,” he said.

Khurana was suspended on August 20 after he said he could not work under Advani and demanded Narendra Modi’s removal for the Gujarat riots. Served a show-cause notice on August 22, he was given 10 days to reply.

He is believed to have taken exception to Arun Jaitley signing the notice. The sources said he expected that communication on sensitive matters would be signed by an authority no less than Advani.

Besides, he was confident that the RSS, at the peak of Advani’s pro-Jinnah controversy, would back him in his campaign to oust Advani.

But nobody in the RSS came out in his support. “This is the BJP’s internal matter,” said spokesperson Ram Madhav. “They have taken a decision against a senior functionary on the question of indiscipline. How is the Sangh involved'”

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