New Delhi, Aug. 26: BJP seniors today praised the Manohar Lal Khattar government's "efficiency" in containing yesterday's violence in "three hours", ruling out sacking the Haryana chief minister and insisting the party "doesn't succumb to pressure".
Amit Malviya, the BJP's social media handler, went to the extent of tweeting: "Haryana govt has done well to contain a difficult situation in less than 3hrs after conviction, yet admin is being targeted for being soft!"
The BJP leaders hinted the "unilateral" admonition the Haryana and central governments received today from Punjab and Haryana High Court, which accused them of "vote bank" politics in allowing Dera followers a free run, had strengthened the leadership's resolve not to fire Khattar.
Privately, some BJP politicians claimed senior police officers had been made to sit in court for two hours yesterday, during which most of the violence happened.
BJP general secretary and Haryana minder Anil Jain lauded Khattar. "We got the Dera chief to come to the (CBI) court without loss of life or damage to property," he said.
"After the conviction, violence took place and it should not have happened. But the state government was able to arrest the violence within three hours."
Jain denied that the party leadership was upset with Khattar's handling of the situation and that the chief minister had been summoned to Delhi. "All such reports are rumours. Our focus now is on restoring peace," he said.
Khattar is known to be a favourite with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
"Both Modi and Shah feel that sacking him would make them vulnerable, and the Opposition would make more demands," a BJP insider said.
"Even if they (Modi and Shah) eventually replace Khattar, they will not do it now. They don't want to be seen as succumbing to pressure."
Yesterday, as the violence escalated, BJP sources had said the central leadership was "very upset" with Khattar and that his sacking for repeated failures was a possibility.
Today, the same politicians justified Khattar's decision to allow tens of thousands of Dera followers to gather in Panchkula ahead of the CBI court's rape verdict.
"Had we not allowed the Dera followers to come to Panchkula, more violence would have taken place. They would not have allowed the Dera chief to come to Panchkula and would have resorted to violence across the state," a BJP politician said.
Another senior BJP politician said the high court had made its observations without giving the state government an opportunity to present its case.
"The state government should have been heard. Justice cannot be done without allowing the other side to present its version," he said.
He added: "Senior officers were made to sit in court for two hours. They were not able to command the force, and most of the violence took place in those two hours."