New Delhi, June 28: BJP president L.K. Advani has cracked the whip on Yashwant Sinha, dropping him as party spokesperson.
Sinha was the first BJP leader to attack Advani in public for his comments on Mohammed Ali Jinnah and had also criticised the Arjun Munda government in Jharkhand.
Asked if the decision to drop Sinha amounted to “disciplinary” action, spokesperson Arun Jaitley said: “You can interpret and analyse.”
The decision was taken in a meeting Advani had with party office-bearers last evening and conveyed to Sinha. Asked if the BJP would follow it up with a show-cause notice, sources said: “We hope he gets the message and falls in line.”
Sources said Advani was initially reluctant to act tough against the former external affairs and finance minister for fear that the action may be seen as vengeful. When Advani had put in his papers as BJP president over the Jinnah comments, Sinha had suggested that he also quit as leader of the Opposition.
“He (Advani) was keen to put the Jinnah episode behind him and not say or do anything that could stoke the embers again,” sources said.
But the second-rung leaders were of the view that if “indiscipline” was left “unpunished”, the BJP would find itself in a bigger mess.
As a spokesperson, Sinha should not have spoken against the party chief and a government headed by the BJP, they said.
The leaders argued how Uma Bharti was virtually unstoppable after she walked out of a party meeting chaired by Advani, sources said.
While Uma Bharti has a following among some backward castes and the Hindutva constituency and is useful as an orator, Sinha belongs to a caste (Kayasthas) with negligible presence in the heartland, had lost the Lok Sabha elections and is neither a poll strategist nor a mass mobiliser, they argued.
Sinha, a Rajya Sabha MP, is member of the national executive but does not hold any other party post.
The RSS refused to comment on the sacking. “It is a party decision,” said RSS spokesman Ram Madhav. Sections of the BJP had initially claimed that Sinha was “put up” by the Sangh against Advani.
Sinha was not available for comment.