Embarrassed by former party chief Bangaru Laxmans conviction in the Tehelka bribery case at a time when it was trying to sustain the campaign against the UPA on corruption,the BJP on Friday distanced itself from the development,saying it was a case about his personal conduct though conceding that he was still a member of the partys national executive.
The BJP said unlike the Congress,which has failed to take action on graft cases,it had swiftly decided to remove Laxman within hours of the controversy coming to light.
The case is about his personal conduct. The charges against him were about the deed done by him as an individual. Within hours of the issue coming to light,BJP had taken a decision and he was no longer party president. We did not take days to decide, party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said. The judgment is on his personal conduct. It is for him to as an individual to fight it. It is his right to defend himself. BJP is not a party in the case and so it is wrong to allege that the party has been indicted.
Party leaders,however,conceded that the episode had showed the party in poor light and somewhat diluted the campaign against the UPA on corruption by giving the Congress a stick to hit the BJP with. Morever,it had come at a time when the BJP had intensified its campaign in the wake of the revelations in the Bofors payoffs case.
Laxman was asked to step down as party chief immediately after a video clip showing him accepting the bribe surfaced but he was later rehabilitated. A few months after taking over as president,Gadkari gave him new responsibilities and made him election in-charge of Tamil Nadu. He also continues to be in the national executive.
He is a member of the party… There are no differences within the party on the verdict. We did not try to cover up the case when the incident had occurred, Hussain said. Party leaders indicated Laxman was unlikely to be penalised further in the wake of the conviction,saying he had suffered enough and had been consigned to the dustbin of history.
Cong gets back: BJP must introspect now
The Congress was quick to seize on the opportunity to turn the tables on the BJP,which has attacked it over corruption scams.
For the BJP,chickens have come to roost and unfortunately,they have come rather early. Those who raised the bogey of Bofors,a matter which been conclusively determined judiciously,should today introspect about their six years in government and start living by the age-old adage that those who live in glass houses do not throw stones, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said.