BJP-JD(U) Alliance Under Strain Over Antulay, New ATS Chief

New Delhi
BJP-JD(U) Alliance Under Strain Over Antulay, New ATS Chief
The decision of BJP's central leadership on Wednesday to take up with JD(U) the issue of some of its MPs supporting union minister AR Antulay had the desired effect when the latter clarified its position, defusing the crisis for the time being.

In the meeting of BJP central unit office-holders here, the matter relating to statements made by JD(U) MP Ejaz Ali supporting AR Antulay's suspicions about the circumstances that led to the death of ATS Chief Hemant Karkare came up. Ali had also said that the JD(U) should not contest the next general elections in alliance with the BJP and had reportedly spoken against senior BJP leader LK Advani.

"The irresponsible statements made by some MPs in Parliament in general and Ejaz Ali in particular suggesting that JD(U) should contest elections separately and should distance from L K Advani is outlandish and unacceptable," a BJP general secretary said in the meeting, a party MP told PTI.

JD(U) President Sharad Yadav distanced himself from Ali's statement. "That could be his personal opinion. This will have no impact on our alliance. The alliance will continue in Bihar as well as at the national level," he said.

It was decided in the meeting that the BJP must hold talks with the highest level leadership of JD(U) and ask them "to decide what they want to do...Whether they want to stay with NDA or move away", the source said.

"Such expressions and utterances are completely unacceptable to BJP," the general secretary said in the meeting.

However, during a press conference later, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad sought to play down the issue. "We will discuss these issues with JD(U) separately... we don't comment on solo players. Remember that we fought together against Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam."

BJP sources said the party was miffed at the statements made by Ali in the Rajya Sabha in which he was echoing the sentiments of A R Antulay on Hemant Karkare's death.

Another JD(U) MP Shivanand Tiwari's statements about the new ATS Chief KP Raghuvanshi's proximity to Malegaon accused Colonel Prasad Purohit has also not gone down well with the BJP, sources said.

After Shiv Sena, JD(U) is the oldest NDA ally. JD(U) President Yadav is now the acting convenor of NDA. The NDA convenor's post has always been with JD(U) with George Fernandes being the convenor for several years. BJP is an alliance partner of the JD(U) government in Bihar.

As such, the statements made by Ali and JD(U) MP Shivanand Tiwari came as a surprise to many.

Ali had earlier said, "JD(U) should snap all ties with BJP otherwise it will damage us in the long run. In assembly elections people vote for chief ministership. So Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister is okay for Muslims. But voting for NDA in Lok Sabha elections means voting for LK Advani as Prime Minister, which Muslims won't accept."

Similarly, Tiwari's statement about the current ATS chief Raghuvanshi and Colonel Purohit being well-known to each other was not to BJP's liking. Tiwari had stated that in 2005 Raghuvanshi had invited Purohit to speak at a seminar on terrorism.

"Today Purohit is lodged in jail as a conspirator in Malegaon blast and Raghuvanshi is in-charge of ATS. In this backdrop, there are doubts over the impartial investigation of the Malegaon blasts," Tiwari had said on Tuesday.
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