In an embarrassing moment for BJP patriarch L.K. Advani, former treasurer of the party’s Karnataka unit and MLC Lehar Singh Siroya, who is close to Karnataka Janatha Paksha chief B.S. Yediyurappa, wrote him an open letter alleging that Advani had compromised on corruption in the past when it suited his interest. He slammed Advani for taking the moral high ground over corruption and pushing for BSY’s removal, which cost the party dear in the state election. He said Advani never inquired where the money for his rallies and yatras came from, nor the source of funding that brought the BJP to power in Karnataka in 2008 and gave it the largest contingent of MPs in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Singh has been suspended from the BJP since, but hopes to return. Excerpts from an interview with Saba Naqvi:
Why are you so angry with Advaniji?
He could have fixed the politics of the country; instead, he is fighting factional battles. And they are acting like autocrats and suspending me because I asked Advaniji some questions. Is this the party of Indira Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi where questioning the leadership is not allowed? I have been suspended, but will always work for the BJP and remain loyal to the ideology.
It is said that if Narendra Modi’s powers increase, Yediyurappa will return to the party and your problems too would come to an end.
If Narendra Modi really starts to run the BJP, Yediyurappa will be back in a matter of a few hours. The problem of the BJP is that it has Delhi leaders who have no mass base.
Sushmaji is a great disappointment. She patched up with Sonia Gandhi as she too would have got into trouble along with the Reddy brothers.
Who else besides Advaniji are you upset with?
Sushmaji is a great disappointment. When many of us heard her in 1996 when she spoke in Parliament during the confidence vote, we had great expectations of her. But now she has left no reason for us to respect her. In Karnataka, they ask about the way she promoted the Reddy brothers. She patched up with Sonia Gandhi only because she would have also got into trouble along with the Reddy brothers. There should be a debate in the party on her whole role and activities.
These are very serious charges. Why only against her and not other leaders from Delhi?
No, no, I say call an extended plenary session and ask why certain people should be in the BJP’s parliamentary board. Why should Murli Manohar Joshi be there, what is his contribution? What does Venkaiah Naidu do today? What is Ananth Kumar’s role, what are his activities? Advaniji has said the party was purified. But so many people facing all sorts of convictions are in the party. I ask why?
Why should certain people be in the BJP parliamentary board? What is M.M. Joshi’s contribution? What does Venkaiah Naidu do today? Or Ananth Kumar?
How come you are not saying anything about the RSS, Rajnath Singh or Arun Jaitley?
No one in Delhi has a mass base. I have written to the party president, so I don’t want to say anything. Arun Jaitley is an aristocratic type of person, he is at a level removed from the masses.
Who then do you think are the mass leaders in the BJP?
All the people in Delhi are disconnected from the masses. Our leaders are people like Modi, Vasundhararaje, Gopinath Munde, Manohar Parrikar, Shivraj Singh Chauhan. The real leadership of the BJP is in the states. Look at the situation in the Congress. The BJP should have been able to wipe them out. Instead, the leadership in Delhi is engaged in petty fighting.
You talk particularly about corruption in your letter to Advaniji and accuse him of turning a blind eye when it suits him?
There is hardly any difference between the BJP and other parties on the issue of corruption. The problem is the selective manner in which leaders in Delhi have treated state leaders and nurtured others close to them who are openly involved in corruption or promoting it. They don’t even mind their image in the media or the public because they have protection from the BJP leaders in Delhi.