New Delhi, Aug. 21: Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel’s clout has got weaker after his close aide Sudhanshu Mittal quit as convener of the election cell last night.
A month ago, another Goel associate, Aamir Raza Hussain, had to resign as the local unit’s vice-president after he publicly spoke out against Narendra Modi. Hussain quit both post and party.
A source close to Goel alleged that Mittal was “forced” out by a “powerful central coterie” that had apparently managed to oust him in 2009 too when Rajnath Singh was BJP president during his first term. Rajnath had appointed Mittal “sah prabhari” (assistant minder) for Assam.
Despite Mittal’s known proximity to him, Pramod Mahajan had never brought the businessman into the organisation. Rajnath had apparently done so to score over his party rivals.
Mittal told The Telegraph: “I left for personal reasons. I don’t want to say anything more.”
But a source close to him said Mittal felt that if he continued in Goel’s team, Goel’s continuance could become untenable.
The rest of the Delhi BJP was not charitable towards Goel. “If he knew that certain top leaders disliked Mittal, why did he give him a critical position? That’s the problem with Goel’s style of functioning. He decides unilaterally and, when the heat is on, discards his loyalists to save his skin. He has made Mittal a sacrificial goat,” a Delhi office-bearer said.
Until a couple of weeks ago, the anti-Goel faction had mobilised forces and stressed to Rajnath and Nitin Gadkari, the Delhi “prabhari”, that unless Goel was replaced, the BJP would face a “rebellion”.
Gadkari had summoned Goel and told him to stop treating the party as his fief and projecting himself as a prospective chief minister. Goel was told that he had “created multiple groups” and looked as though he wished to hand over Delhi on a platter to the Congress for the fourth time in a row.
Sources said that in his zeal to cover his flanks and pre-empt a possible strike by his critics, Goel asked Mittal to step down. “Goel felt threatened; he was convinced his job was on the line,” a source said.
Mittal is said to be close to Sushma Swaraj, the Lok Sabha Opposition leader. But Sushma, who initially pushed for Goel’s appointment despite her colleagues’ reservations, did not go the full hog to defend Goel when his “unpopularity” hit her hard as well, a source said.