Even as the BJP went into damage control mode on Tuesday, after senior party leader Shanta Kumar’s letter to party president Amit Shah, the former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister said there was no “samvaad” (dialogue) in the party.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kumar said: “There is no longer adequate “samvaad” (dialogue) happening in our party. There is no way for people like me to communicate with the leadership… After such a huge mandate, how can we explain the dirt that is affecting the respect for the party. I am hurt by allegations against our leaders. There was pain, a feeling of hurt. I had to express it and that is why I wrote the letter.”
Kumar was referring to his letter to Shah stating that the Vyapam scam had dented the image of the NDA government and “made all of us bow our heads in shame”. He also mentioned Rajasthan and Maharashtra, and sought the setting up of an ethics commitee to act as an “internal Lokpal”.
Asked why he had decided to speak out now, Kumar said he had never shied away from airing his thoughts. “After 10 years of UPA government’s misrule, there was ‘rajneetik nastikta’ (political atheism), since people had lost faith in politicians… They had the feeling that all politicians were thieves — some big, some small. But (Narendra) Modiji changed all that due to his work in Gujarat and also due to his personal integrity,” he said.
“When we (BJP) made him the face of our campaign, there was renewed energy. When some of our leaders opposed him, I was the one who said that Modi was like an idea whose time had come and nobody would be able to stop him. Even children in the villages were only taking his name. And the results were beyond our expectations. Modi is the world’s most popular leader while BJP is the world’s largest party. For one year, everything went well. But now, all these things are coming out. I was deeply pained, hurt… I then decided to write to our national president,” said Kumar.
“I emailed my letter to him on July 10. The same evening, I received a mail from his office, informing me that they had received my letter and he (Shah) would respond soon. But nothing has come so far,” he said.
On whether he agreed with the party’s stand and the government’s decision to not take any action against the leaders accused of unethical behaviour, the BJP stalwart said, “I have written in my letter that the party should do serious introspection and take strong action without any fear… I believe that with such corruption, no country can ever progress. We (BJP) will have to take the lead in practising politics of honesty because we made a commitment to it, not the Congress. That is why we must have zero tolerance for corruption. That is what my letter also says.”
Asked if he was upset at being sidelined — despite winning the Kangra Lok Sabha seat with a huge margin, he was not made a minister — Kumar said, “Yes, I feel unhappy. But not because I wasn’t made a minister. Everybody knows I have never bothered about a post. There are many in the party who harbour such thoughts. But I do my work. In fact, I didn’t even want to contest the elections. But what is happening makes me unhappy. We may have become the world’s largest party, but look at the manner in which politics is being conducted in the country… person-centric, politics of corruption and selfishness. The BJP was seen as the last hope. If the BJP also fails to deliver, then the country has no future except darkness. Unfortunately, nobody is talking about these issues in the party to the extent that is required.”
Stating that it would be the “greatest travesty” if the BJP reacted to the charges in the same manner as the Congress during UPA-II, he said, “This should not happen… Majority of BJP “karyakarta” (workers) share my belief. Since 1952-53, we have been repeatedly talking of value-based politics… If BJP also becomes like the Congress, it will be a huge setback for the country.”