The wrangling among top leaders in the BJP came to the fore again Saturday with the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, criticising his Lok Sabha counterpart Sushma Swaraj for publicly objecting to the induction of controversial leader B Sriramulu into the party in Karnataka.
In an article posted on his personal web site, Jaitley disapproved making “marginal issues” such as the induction of leaders into a public issue that could “take our eye off the ball” in the run-up to elections.
“Relatively marginal issues such as declaration of candidates particularly who is in and who is out cannot be allowed to dominate the political agenda in the BJP. These issues divert the attention from the core issues of governance,” Jaitley wrote without naming Swaraj.
“We cannot afford to take our eye off the ball. We must continue the political debate on the anti-incumbency issues against the UPA and the ability of the BJP and Narendra Modi to provide a solution to the problems of the country,” Jaitley suggested.
Although he did not name Swaraj, his comments came in the backdrop of her public disapproval Friday of Sriramulu’s induction.
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“I want to make it absolutely clear that B.Sriramulu has been admitted in the party despite my stiff opposition,” Swaraj tweeted after the BJP’s Karnataka unit inducted Sriramulu with plans to field him from the Bellary Lok Sabha constituency.
Swaraj had earlier publicly objected to a merger or alliance with Sriramulu’s BSR Congress. However, the Karnataka state unit has been keen to get Sriramulu back to consolidate its tribal support base in the Bellary region.
This public disapproval embarrassed the party as it underlined the impression that all was not well in the top leadership. Jaitley suggested party leaders should close ranks to amplify the Modi wave in the country.
“We must all entirely concentrate on these issues and the ability of a Modi-led government providing a solution to these concerns,” Jaitley wrote, emphasising that party leaders instead need to amplify “anti-incumbency” against the UPA in the wake of “price rise, slowdown in economy, plight of the farmers, corruption, security related issues and a leadership vacuum in the UPA” that occupy the mind of the electorate.