| Dharmendra and Hema: Beware, the chief’s watching
New Delhi, Jan. 1: BJP president Rajnath Singh has wielded the whip on dozens of star MPs against whom complaints of “indifference” to political responsibilities have been mounting of late.
The BJP central office has sent letters to Vinod Khanna, Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha, Dharmendra and a host of others who did not attend the party’s national council and executive meetings in Lucknow from December 22 to 24.
BJP MPs are mostly members of or special invitees to the national council. Some routinely miss the national executive meetings that take place every three months. But not attending the national council meeting, which is convened once in two to three years, is considered a serious “misdemeanour”.
Party sources said a letter had been sent to Maneka Gandhi as well, but she denied having received it. She admitted that she did not attend the national council and executive meetings, but said she had a valid reason.
“I have not received any letter. I had informed them in advance that I was required to be in my constituency during that period. You see, I had arranged two dental camps in Pilibhit. Doctors had come from all over India. I could not have missed that,” she said.
Although Rajnath claimed that the letters were not sent to reprimand the MPs, he conceded that they were meant to convey that the party had noticed their absence.
“It is not a notice demanding an explanation. We have generally enquired whether everything is all right with them, whether something urgent had kept them away. I would not disagree if you say that the party has noted their absence,” Rajnath told The Telegraph.
While Khanna is abroad, there was no response from Hema or Dharmendra when The Telegraph enquired why they skipped the meets.
Sinha said he had conveyed to Rajnath that he would not be able to attend the national council meeting.
The BJP president parried questions on the “casual” attitude of some of the star MPs, especially Dharmendra and Sinha, who routinely neglect their parliamentary duties.
In Dharmendra’s Lok Sabha constituency, Bikaner, the party was embarrassed last year by the appearance of posters and pamphlets that said: “Missing, the local MP Dharmendra.”
The actor is rarely seen in Parliament though his wife and Rajya Sabha MP Hema is occasionally spotted.
Rajnath confirmed that Sinha “had informed in advance that he was not going to be in Lucknow”. But he kept quiet on Dharmendra and Hema’s absence.