The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP can’t swallow or spit out DP diet

New Delhi, Feb. 23: The BJP top brass may have gone on the defensive over the induction of D.P. Yadav, who has 30 criminal charges against him, but indications are there will be no rethink from the party.

Sources indicated that the BJP had more or less decided to field the western Uttar Pradesh politician from Sambhal, his former Lok Sabha constituency.

However, remarks of some of the top leaders on the same day indicated that for public consumption, the party will sound defensive and apologetic.

• “We are against criminalisation of politics. I don’t want to comment on individuals. I have been told that antecedents were verified before admitting the new entrants to the party fold. It is difficult to ascertain the antecedents of every individual in the Lok Sabha polls. We take adequate precaution to ensure that people with criminal antecedents do not gain entry into the party,” Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said in Lucknow

• “Whatever the PM said without taking the name of anybody is correct,” said the Prime Minister’s deputy, L.K. Advani

• “The BJP is an ocean and all kinds of rivers flow into it. But these do not affect the ocean’s cleanliness,” parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj reasoned

The sources said Vajpayee and Advani’s statements — which suggested they were not entirely happy with the new entrant — were addressed at constituencies uncomfortable with the presence of individuals like Yadav. Not only is Yadav embroiled in criminal cases, his son Vikas was implicated in the murder of Delhi model Jessica Lal and Nitish Katara, his sister’s friend.

The RSS, too, apparently sounded miffed with the decision, with its spokesman, Ram Madhav, advising the BJP to “take steps to ensure its image is preserved”.

However, in Lucknow, Vajpayee gave a clean chit to Yadav, saying: “We have found nothing objectionable to his career.”

When pointed out that Yadav’s son was involved in two murders, Vajpayee said: “It is impossible to screen the members of his family. How far can one go in examining his relatives'”

The sources stressed that the move to take Yadav was cleared at the “highest level” and it was “unfair” to blame party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu and general secretary Pramod Mahajan. “Everybody knows not a leaf moves in the party without the knowledge and consent of the top leaders,” they said.

Indeed, there was considerable disquiet within the BJP after spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi last night suggested the decision may be reviewed because the party wished to reinforce its image of a “party with a difference”.

BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan today said Yadav was not a “criminal” and was “deeply involved” in the country’s democratic system.

“D.P. Yadav is not a criminal. You can’t brand a person who was deeply involved in the democratic system of the country,” Mahajan said.

At today’s media briefing, Naqvi parried most of the questions on Yadav and vaguely said the matter will be “discussed”. After declaring he would not answer questions on the subject, he went on to use it as a pretext to attack Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

“From the start, our policy is very clear. We are against the criminalisation of politics. Sonia said she is hundred per cent Indian. Her party may share this view but the country doesn’t think so. Similarly, on D.P. Yadav, there will be no one view because people react differently to criminalisation of politics,” he argued.

The sources, however, disclosed that Naqvi said a firm no when Yadav requested permission to address reporters at the BJP headquarters today so that “I can demolish all the charges journalists have foisted on me”. Yadav, who was furious about the uproar and told reporters in Uttar Pradesh he was “ready to roll off names of leaders in the Congress party who all have notorious criminal backgrounds”, was advised to lie low and let the BJP handle the flak.

Yet when television channels approached the party to field spokespersons for a discussion on criminalisation, no one was willing to do the job. Finally, additional spokesman Prakash Javadekar was asked to go with the brief that he should be aggressive in naming the criminals and history-sheeters. He has reportedly included Mohammad Shahabuddin and Sadhu Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mukhtar Ansari of the Samajwadi Party and Suraj Bhan Singh of the Lok Janshakti Party in his “hit list”.

For the consumption of reporters, sources said a “high-level” meeting will be held soon between Advani and Naidu to evolve a mechanism to filter new entrants.

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