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BJP girds for Arvind attack

Gadkari

New Delhi, Oct. 16: The BJP is bracing for tomorrow’s planned “expose” by Arvind Kejriwal and associate Anjali Damania against Nitin Gadkari, the third party chief after Bangaru Laxman and L.K. Advani to come under a cloud over corruption.

Party sources said Gadkari was in a huddle today. Yesterday, his “advisers” and aides ran through the allegations levelled against him by Damania in relation to an irrigation scam in Maharashtra. The sources said Gadkari was of the view that the charges were “legally” untenable.

Laxman was caught taking cash in an undercover operation and was promptly sacked. Advani was named an alleged hawala recipient in 1996. He resigned as an MP and said he would not contest an election until he was exonerated. Advani was eventually cleared.

But in Gadkari’s case, the sources said they would rather wait and watch what Damania had to say and whether she revealed something new.

The immediate political implication of the “expose” is that if the disclosures are more serious than the BJP believes, it could cast a shadow on a second term for Gadkari. He is also nursing Nagpur to fight the next Lok Sabha election.

Senior leader Arun Jaitley sounded a note of caution for Kejriwal. “I think those who indulge in exposes must always be extra careful about every word they say. Populism should not push them. This whole desire of being before the floodlights should not bring in a situation where they say more than what actually appears. The sanctity of truth must be maintained,” the Rajya Sabha Opposition leader was quoted saying in a TV interview.

Kejriwal had earlier charged the BJP with being reticent on the revelations against the Congress because of the “fear” over the Gadkari “expose”.

But the BJP once did what Kejriwal is now doing: it mounted a high-decibel campaign against Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors kickback case that led to the Congress being voted out in 1989, though the charges were later dismissed in court.

After Rajiv Gandhi, the BJP attacked P.V. Narasimha Rao over an alleged payment from a “suitcase” that late stockbroker Harshad Mehta was spied carrying into the then Prime Minister’s residence. Nothing was proven.