Breaking his silence on the induction of Babu Singh Kushwaha just before the Assembly elections,outgoing UP BJP president Surya Pratap Shahi on Monday said it was the party leaderships decision,not his,and that he had not taken Rs 200 crore from Kushwaha,as alleged by some people.
Speaking at a ceremony to welcome his successor Lakshmikant Bajpai,Shahi said he was was told about Kushwahas induction only two hours before the press conference in Delhi on January 3.
Pointing towards party vice-presidents Vinay Katiyar and Kalraj Mishra,Shahi said they were witness to the fact that he knew nothing about Kushwahas induction until two hours before the press conference. I was state party president,it would not have been proper for me to speak at that point of time, Shahi said.
As for the allegations of taking money from Kushwaha to make him join the BJP,Shahi said: I swear by God that I did not take a single paisa,I had not even met him before the day he joined the party.
Nevertheless,Kushwahas induction was a blot on my tenure,he added.
Vinay Katiyar,who was also present at the press conference when Kushwaha joined the BJP,said that whatever he did in the Kushwaha episode,it was on the directions of senior leaders and he will do so in future as well. Katiyar said that when a party loses elections,even small incidents are blown out of proportion while a victory covers up even big mistakes.
Party sources said Shahi spoke on the subject in order to put the record straight because many party leaders blame him for Kushwahas induction. In fact,Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath had said it openly. Also,Shahi had reportedly requested induction in the Legislative Council,but the request was turned down because of his association with the Kushwaha episode. It was for this reason that Shahi,even while clarifying his position,called it a blot on his tenure.
The induction of Kushwaha,Mayawatis tainted family welfare minister,who has been arrested by the CBI in UPs NRHM scam,had sparked an outrage within the BJP. Several leaders,including Yogi Adityanath and Maneka Gandhi,had opposed it. They said that Kushwahas induction had damaged the BJPs credibility as a party opposed to corruption. But party president Nitin Gadkari,defended the decision,variously describing Kushwaha has a leader of the backward,and a whistle-blower on Mayawatis corruption.
However,in view of the opposition,within days Kushwahas membership was put on hold until he was cleared of the charges against him. But Yogi Adityanath and others held that the damage could not be undone.
In the elections,the BJPs tally came down from 51 to 47 seats. Several review committees constituted by the state BJP,which visited various parts of the state,have held the Kushwaha episode as one of the main factors in the partys defeat.