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Newbies bring graft taint to lotus image

- BJP divided on high-profile entrants

Ranchi, Aug. 11: The BJP seems to be facing a problem of plenty, as insiders are worried that the uncontrolled entry of leaders from other political affiliations, including tainted faces, might dilute the BJP’s credibility before upcoming Assembly elections.

Three key leaders who joined the BJP yesterday are facing CBI probe and court cases.

Former minister and JMM veteran legislator from Littipara who crossed over to the BJP, Simon Marandi is among the accused of the 2010 Rajya Sabha horse-trading case that is currently under CBI investigation. Marandi and five other MLAs of the BJP, JMM and Congress were caught seeking cash in exchange for votes in a sting operation.

Also on the dubious list comes Dulal Bhuiyan, former JMM MLA, who was a minister in the erstwhile Madhu Koda government and has had a brief stint in Babulal Marandi’s JVM. Now, he has placed his faith in the BJP. The CBI is investigating a disproportionate assets case against him.

Gulshan Lal Ajmani, a former BJP MLA from Ranchi who had been dropped from the party after his name surfaced in the Bihar fodder scam case in 1996, is again back in the fold. Ajmani has been charge-sheeted in RC 48A/96 fodder scam for accepting Rs 15 lakh from supplier Adarsh Pharma in cash and cheque, was in judicial custody after arrest in 2002. He had once claimed he accepted money from the company following instructions of former Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha, party patriarch late Kailashpati Mishra and former ideologue K.N. Govindacharya for the party’s 1995 Bihar Assembly election funds. The trial is at an “advanced stage” before the CBI court in Ranchi.

BJP leader Gama Singh, state party spokesperson Ajay Maru and Ranchi MLA C.P. Singh apparently paved way for Ajmani. Former chief minister Arjun Munda and state party head Ravindra Kumar Rai are believed to have backed Simon and Dulal Bhuiyan.

A senior party leader said that Ajmani might not be a claimant for an Assembly ticket but can be an embarrassment for the BJP. “When we accuse RJD chief Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam, the Opposition will say Ajmani is now in your camp. Ajmani is a small reference of how the BJP has compromised its stand against corruption,” he said.

Another senior BJP leader Sarayu Rai said he did not know who were involved in the decision. “But on my part, I can’t defend their joining, even unconditionally (without wanting tickets to contest the election),” Rai said.

Many maintain that whosoever is joining the BJP is doing so unconditionally.

“They have all joined as general workers. No sort of responsibility or post in the party organisation or any assurance of Assembly ticket has been given,” Maru said.

But the argument sounds unconvincing. A party insider said Simon might be fielded from Littipara as the party has no strong face there. “A tribal Christian leader, the party believes Simon will be an asset in Santhal Pargana,” he said.

“We raillied against the Congress for supporting the Koda government. The Congress paid the price. But now, Dulal Bhuiyan of the Koda cabinet is in the BJP,” he added.