Besides probing the corruption charge against its Kerala leader R S Vinod, the BJP is also looking into the factional feud in the state unit that led to the leak of an internal report accusing Vinod of bribery, party leaders have said. The party’s central leadership may take disciplinary action against Vinod, if the charges are proved, as well as those involved in leaking details of the report.
Party sources said the central leadership is unlikely to constitute a special team to look into the issues. Party chief Amit Shah would rather rely on H Raja, the secretary in-charge of Kerala, and B L Santosh, joint general secretary (organisation) who takes care of party affairs in southern states, to assess the situation and submit a report, said the sources.
“The leadership takes the internal fight, which apparently led to the leak of an internal report on the allegations of corruption against a party member, as seriously as the bribe charges. The party could dismiss the bribery charges as an individual act… But the intensified factional feud will damage the party deeply,” said a BJP general secretary. Both the central and the state leaders have admitted that the developments — the bribe charge and the leak — have “damaged” the BJP “terribly”.
A senior leader said: “The Kerala unit, despite the party president’s fervent call for unity, has not got it right yet. While the units in other states, where the party is in the process of expanding base, have shown tremendous progress, the Kerala unit’s performance has been disappointing.” At the state core committee meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday and attended by both Santosh and Raja, a section has sought to probe how the report was leaked and wanted action against those behind it.
An internal probe ordered by state BJP chief Kummanam Rajasekharan had found that Vinod, state convener of BJP’s co-operative cell, took a bribe of Rs 5.6 crore from the owner of a private medical college and promised Medical Council of India recognition for the institute. After the report’s findings surfaced in the media, Vinod was sacked from the party.
A section of party leaders said dragging the name of M T Ramesh, a state general secretary, into the controversy was “a result of conspiracy by a group”. At the meeting held Saturday, Ramesh said he would quit the party if stringent action was not taken against those behind the “conspiracy”.
State BJP leaders have been asked to defend the party against the bribery charge by citing that it was an “individual” offence. “It was the internal mechanism of the party that had initiated a probe into the charges against a party member. It was not triggered by media reports or the Opposition parties. There is no question of the party leadership being held responsible. It is an issue of one party member,” another BJP general secretary told The Indian Express. However, the party leader said the central leadership would “take it seriously if the leak has happened because of the factional feud.”