NEW DELHI: There is no stemming the blood-letting in BJP. On Monday, former minister Arun Shourie took the baton from expelled leader Jaswant Singh as he launched a furious attack on the entire brass of the party and called for the RSS to “bombard the party headquarters” and replace the top leadership with 10-15 nominees of its choice. As a result, he now faces expulsion or at least suspension.
In a TV interview and in an impromptu interaction with the media, Shourie savaged the leadership.
He called the leadership “humpty-dumpty” and “Alice in blunderland”, while saying the party was adrift like a ‘kati patang’.
He argued that BJP needed radical surgery, saying, “My prescription is jhatka (one swift execution) not halal (slow execution). Saare, saare (lock, stock and barrel). There should be a total transformation,” said Shourie. He said the party leaders were indulging in “mutual protection and projection.” He also said the party’s moral authority had depleted owing to involvement in cases like the cash-for-query scam.
He asked the RSS to take charge while arguing that the Sangh had been “too democratic” and had given too much latitude to the party. He urged the RSS to remember that BJP was its most visible face, its “biggest instrument” and could not be left to its own devices in the current situation of drift. “It should keen an eye on the moral conduct of the party like an eagle,” he said.
Concentrating his ire on all the central leaders ranging from L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar, Shourie indicted all of them.
The leadership responded to the assault by threatening disciplinary action. “He is seeking political martyrdom,” party spokesperson Rajeev Pratap Rudy said. A defiant Shourie dismissed both the threat and the spokesperson with disdain. “Do what you can,” he declared. He said that there was no space for dissent in the party which was being treated as a private property, and any criticism of the party was completely walled out and not discussed.
The BJP is likely to call a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the latest eruption with indications that suspension or expulsion of the latest rebel may be on the table. But at a time when it is under fire for being intolerant and illiberal because of the expulsion of Jaswant, the party may be compelled to tread cautiously. Besides, they may also have to factor in Shourie’s praise for RSS which he said should be overseeing the party’s affairs, besides playing “BJP’s moral policeman”.
Calling for a total recast of the party top hierarchy, Shourie said there was need to borrow from Mao’s tactics of “bombarding the headquarters. Clean up everybody from top. Bring 10-15 people from the states who are competent and honest and dedicated and reconstruct immediately.”
He was quite secular in the choice of his targets, sparing virtually none. Though he named no names, he left few doubts as to who all were on the comprehensive hit list.
For instance, while he denied that he wanted Advani to go, he forcefully argued that the Leader of Opposition went further than Jaswant in praising Jinnah. Then, he quoted Advani’s critic, Yashwant Sinha, to support Jaswant’s rubbishing of Advani’s claim that he was not aware of the decision to release terrorists in exchange for the release of passengers of IC-814.
Shourie denied that his ‘humpty dumpty’ dig was meant for Rajnath. But his criticism of the decisions to axe B C Khanduri as CM and Vasundhara Raje as BJP group leader in Rajasthan when they had support seemed to be directly aimed at Singh.