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Sushma airs dissent, party mum

New Delhi, March 14: Sushma Swaraj has openly defied the BJP leadership by tweeting her opposition to the readmission of former Karnataka rebel B. Sriramulu.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that B Sriramulu has been admitted in the party despite my stiff opposition,” she posted on Twitter at 9.07pm.

An aide confirmed the tweet was genuine. There was no reaction from the BJP, a spokesperson saying “no comments” and hanging up.

Party leaders from Karnataka, worried about the tweet’s possible electoral impact, are said to have tried calling party president Rajnath Singh and other seniors. The latest projections give the BJP 20 of the state’s 28 seats on the strength of former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s re-entry.

A source close to Sushma said: “She is merely trying to save the party from dubious elements.”

Asked why Sushma was creating problems for the party before a make-or-mar election, a BJP source said she was “fighting a last battle for survival”.

“So far, whenever she threw tantrums, the leaders obliged her because she had Advani’s 100 per cent patronage,” the source said. “With Advani on the fringes now, she has no other weapon except herself.”

The BJP is baffled because Sushma is seen as the original patron of the Reddy brothers of Bellary, and Sriramulu was their lieutenant. She had met them while contesting a Lok Sabha election from Bellary against Sonia Gandhi in 1999.

Sriramulu quit the BJP over the alleged mistreatment of the Reddys after they were indicted for alleged illegal mining by Karnataka’s Lokayukta. He floated his own party that hurt the BJP in last year’s Assembly elections.

Realising his electoral worth, the BJP brass green-flagged his re-induction, knowing well it would receive some flak for doing business with “controversial” persons. Sriramulu rejoined the BJP today and sought to underplay Sushma’s stand.

“When she contested in Bellary, I used to call her ‘Amma’. She’ll be my ‘Amma’ until I die,” he said. “I’ll meet her and plead with her to accept me.”

The world of Twitter bristled with outrage at Sushma. “But what about the Reddy brothers whom you blessed with your hand on their heads…” asked Suryanarayan Ganesh.

Yogesh said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that I will NaMo (Narendra Modi) and he will become PM despite ur sabotage.”

Siddharth Pai demanded that “moles” like Sushma be “kicked” out.

In 1999, when Sushma was down and out after an unsuccessful stint as Delhi chief minister, she refused to accept a party post and insisted on returning to the Vajpayee government as a senior minister. Vajpayee did not give in and even Advani wasn’t particularly helpful.

Sushma struck like a thunderbolt at a national executive meeting in Nagpur, telling the media that Advani’s home ministry had “failed” to contain terror strikes. Advani got the message and worked hard on Vajpayee. Sushma was back.

Given Modi’s popularity among the cadre, however, Sushma may not get their cooperation at her constituency if she continues challenging the leadership, sources said.