The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

Sushma volley at Bellary duo

New Delhi, March 6: Sushma Swaraj’s eleventh hour attempt to thwart the merger of the Badava Shramika Raitha (BSR) Congress with the BJP in Karnataka is likely to be overruled by the party’s core committee, said sources.

The BSR Congress is headed by B.S. Sriramulu, who was a minister in the BJP’s Karnataka government and a loyalist of the Reddy brothers from Bellary. Sriramulu announced in Karnataka on Wednesday that his party would shortly merge with the BJP. Sriramulu broke away from the BJP in the last Karnataka elections, contested as an Independent and won. Together with the Reddy iron ore barons, he ensured that the BJP was wiped clean in Hyderabad Karnataka, bordering Andhra Pradesh.

Sriramulu is from the Scheduled Tribes of Nayaks, commands a vote quantum of three or four per cent and can influence six seats in his political turf. Sushma expressed her ire at the move in a tweet this morning. She stated, “I am opposed to the BSR alliance or merger with the BJP and said she had conveyed her views to the party president, Rajnath Singh.

It is learnt that neither the RSS nor the BJP leadership is pleased with Sushma’s public display of her opposition and wondered why she could not have raised her objections privately before Rajnath or in an internal forum. “She is extremely dispirited because she thinks she is not getting the importance she deserves in the present order,” a source said. The party was more surprised with her tweet because she was regarded as the “original patron” of the Reddy brothers. Sushma made it a point to attend the yearly “Varalakshmi puja” the Reddys hosted in their ancestral home in Bellary. The brothers referred to her as their “mother”. She stayed aloof from them once the law caught up with the Reddys on their alleged financial wheeling-dealings. Sushma first met them when she contested the Lok Sabha polls against Sonia Gandhi in Bellary in 1999 and lost.

However, a source close to Sushma contended, “She does not want such corrupt and discredited elements back in the BJP. She thinks if we re-induct them, our anti-corruption plank flies out of the window.”

There was a time when the BJP’s effort to corner the UPA on its various scams in Parliament was stymied because the Congress MPs would ask questions about Sushma’s alleged links with the Reddys. She was the Opposition leader in the Lok Sabha and the BJP had no answer.

Sushma was equally against bringing back B.S. Yeddyurappa into the BJP. Still the brass went ahead and welcomed him “home”. The BJP is likely to field Yeddyurappa and his son in the Lok Sabha polls.

Sushma also tweeted to express her resentment over the entry of former Congress minister Venod Sharma in the Haryana Janhit Congress, headed by Kuldeep Bishnoi. Bishnoi is an ally of the BJP and Sushma stitched the partnership.Venod, who was a minister in the Centre as well as in the Hooda government, was dropped when his son, Manu Sharma, was re-arrested in the Jessica Lal murder. Venod owns a chain of hotels, news channels “India News” and “News X” and is a franchisee of the weekly, The Sunday Guardian.

A source close to Sushma claimed that she was against Venod’s induction for the same reason she opposed the BSR Congress. “She thinks the presence of such people will do no credit to the BJP,” the source said.

However, the BJP’s larger assessment was Sushma was fighting to reclaim her space and resist the alleged manoeuvres to out-turf her in the Modi-headed dispensation. She and L.K. Advani are still holding out against the new order in their own way.