New Delhi, Aug. 13: The message from Gandhinagar to Delhi was unambiguous: if the BJP has to seriously fight the Congress in 2014, it must be a straight-out combat.
BJP sources said in his recent meetings with party seniors, Narendra Modi stressed that the battle against the Congress should take on the Gandhi family.
Which is why in a departure from its past tactics, the party went on the front foot today in Parliament on Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s real estate “purchases”.
As late as last evening, top leaders sounded tentative when asked if they would raise the “Vadra matter” in Parliament, following Haryana bureaucrat Ashok Khemka’s recent report to the state government substantiating the “charges” he had earlier made against Vadra.
After Khemka’s first “revelations”, the Hooda government ordered a probe and gave a “clean chit” to Vadra.
Asked if they would pursue the case, a leader said: “It is our desire to, but we have never been allowed to raise it in either House.”
When The Hindu first broke the story on Vadra in 2012 based on Khemka’s claims, the BJP’s young MPs pressured the brass to raise the issue in Parliament, that was then in session.
In an internal meeting, L.K. Advani argued that “personal attacks” against politicians’ family members were not on and that too in the House where the person named was not present to defend himself. Sushma Swaraj, the Lok Sabha Opposition leader, endorsed Advani’s view while her Rajya Sabha counterpart, Arun Jaitley, had reportedly “reluctantly” conceded.
After Modi’s constant clamour for an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the Congress, on Sunday, Yashwant Sinha, former finance and foreign minister, gave a notice in the Lok Sabha seeking suspension of question hour to discuss Vadra.
Sources said Sinha “decided on his own”. The Hazaribagh MP initially opposed Modi’s elevation as the BJP’s central campaign committee chief and threw in his lot with Advani. Eventually, BJP boss Rajnath Singh told him he would either have to reconcile himself to a Modi-led dispensation or feel free to chart an independent course. Sources said Sinha went to “another extreme” to ingratiate himself with the Gujarat chief minister.
Once he gave the notice, Sushma asked two young MPs, Nishikant Dubey and Anurag Thakur, to follow suit. Prakash Javdekar gave a similar notice in the Rajya Sabha.
This morning after stalling both Houses on Vadra, the leaders reportedly decided not to chase the issue. The BJP’s hotheads, however, insisted they should not turn off the heat on him.
Asked why the BJP raised it so late in the day, a source claimed: “It’s election time. We have to confront the Gandhis.”
The BJP did not co-ordinate with the non-Congress spectrum in its anti-Vadra assault.
Belatedly, Biju Janata Dal MPs got into the act yesterday. One of them called Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik for a go-ahead. He gave it but by the time the BJD completed procedural formalities, its MPs realised the BJP had stolen a march over them.