| Venkaiah Naidu welcomes Arif Mohammad Khan on Tuesday. (PTI/AFP)
New Delhi, Feb. 24: The BJP today cancelled the membership of controversial MP Dharam Pal Yadav, barely four days after he was admitted, following pressure from the party’s Delhi MPs, the RSS and a media campaign.
The decision was taken after deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani met party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu and his colleagues Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj this morning.
Announcing the decision, Naidu said Yadav — a Rajya Sabha MP with 30 criminal charges against him — told him this morning he would voluntarily relinquish the membership if his entry had caused the party “embarrassment and (sparked) differences”. “I did call up Mahajan this morning to offer my dua-salaam (greetings),” Yadav said. “Naidu was with him. He spoke to me and said the party was having second thoughts about me.”
“So I offered to sacrifice my membership because, after all, I am a small and weak individual in a mighty party like the BJP. Naidu accepted my offer.”
Yadav further embarrassed the party by citing his previous association with it. “What crime did I commit over the last three days for the party to suddenly wake up'” he asked today, while emphasising that he fought the 1998 Lok Sabha polls from Sambhal on the BJP symbol.
He had lost to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and then entered the Rajya Sabha on the BJP quota.
“So, in that sense, I have been part of the BJP for the last six years,” said the leader from western Uttar Pradesh, who was admitted apparently to create a “level playing” electoral field against Mulayam Singh.
BJP sources said the Delhi MPs and workers resented Yadav’s entry because his son, Vikas, is said to be involved in the high-profile murders of model Jessica Lal and Nitish Katara.
“For the sake of a couple of Uttar Pradesh seats, is it worth sacrificing seven Delhi seats'” a party source in Delhi asked. The BJP holds all the Lok Sabha seats in the capital.
Not only had the episode — according to sources — started to detract from the party’s India Shining campaign, the RSS, too, had advised the BJP to “take steps to ensure its image is preserved” in the run-up to the general elections.
The party appeared to have convinced one person of its intentions when Nitish’s mother, Neelam, who had reacted strongly against the induction, today said: “My respect for the BJP has grown. They have shown they can abide by the ideals that they claim to stand for.”
The party, however, indulged in a blame game over who was responsible for Yadav’s induction, especially after the Prime Minister faced a barrage of questions at a news conference in Lucknow yesterday.
Some in the party believe Naidu and Mahajan were responsible, but others said Yadav’s entry was “cleared at the highest level”. “These decisions are taken jointly by the party and no individual is responsible for it,” law minister Arun Jaitley said today in a bid to scotch speculations to the contrary.
“I don’t think we are supposed to announce how the internal decision-making mechanism functions. Even if a few people take a decision of this kind, the party takes it as a collective responsibility. After this kind of decision, the party gauges the reaction of the public and party workers,” he added.