The Telegraph
Sunday , March 30 , 2014
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‘Dawood’ decouples BJP and Sabir Ali

Sabir Ali at his Delhi home on Saturday. (Prem Singh)

New Delhi, March 29: The BJP needed just five hours to do a flip-flop on Pramod Muthalik; the somersault over Sabir Ali has taken nearly a whole day.

The party today booted out the Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar — expelled by the Janata Dal (United) 10 days ago for praising Narendra Modi — a day after his induction provoked a near-rebellion.

“Terrorist Bhatkal friend joins BJP. Soon accepting Dawood (Ibrahim),” BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had tweeted sarcastically yesterday.

Sources credited the RSS with forcing out Ali who, unconfirmed reports claimed, had met Modi in Gandhinagar this month.

The double embarrassment over Sri Ram Sene boss Muthalik and Ali in a week turns the spotlight afresh on the BJP’s recruit-a-day policy, and on how the pampering of newcomers is provoking open dissent among old-timers.

One of the dissident veterans, Jaswant Singh, was today expelled for six years from the party for contesting as an Independent from Barmer, where he was denied a BJP ticket.

Ali was an accused in the 1997 murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar in Mumbai but was acquitted. Whispers have linked him to the 1993 Bombay blasts and to Indian Mujahideen chief Yasin Bhatkal.

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said party president Rajnath Singh had annulled Ali’s membership.

The MP had apparently requested his induction be merely put on hold till the “suspicion” over his credentials was cleared, but a Sangh directive left Rajnath with no choice, sources said.

If last Sunday’s recruitment of Muthalik, known for his group’s attacks on women pub-goers in Karnataka, could be blamed on the state leadership, that was hardly an option in Ali’s case.

He had been welcomed with garlands at the party’s central headquarters by Dharmendra Pradhan, general secretary in charge of Bihar, fellow general secretary J.P. Nadda, and Rajnath’s political aide Sudhanshu Trivedi.

This morning, Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav tweeted: “Sabir Ali induction has caused great resentment. Party leadership has been apprised of d strong views of d cadre people against it.”

Ali said he had decided to join the BJP after a Gujarat visit this month had “convinced” him there was nothing wrong with Muslims’ condition there. He refused to say if he had met Modi.

Ali has threatened to sue Naqvi for defamation, a PTI report said.