Trouble appears to be brewing within the BJP over who gets to tap the capital’s slums for political gain. While Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari had earlier spent a night in a slum, sources said Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel, too, seems to have developed a keen interest in slums, leading to some discomfiture. In a recent executive meet, both leaders had announced that reports of a rift between them were “due to a misunderstanding” which had been cleared. Sources, however, said that may not be entirely the case.
On Friday, Goel was at the forefront of a ‘slum yuva daud’ to mark the beginning of the ‘adopt a slum’ campaign, initiated by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan. The run witnessed participation from about 5,000 youngsters from various slums in the capital. Boxer Mary Kom and MP Bhupender Yadav were also present. But missing from the event was Tiwari, whose face had featured alongside Goel’s on various posters for the event.
Earlier, too, Goel’s announcement of programmes for slums had met with a lukewarm response from the Delhi BJP unit. Even at the recently held BJP executive meet, Delhi in-charge Shyam Jaju made a mention of the run. “Our general secretary forgot to mention Goel’s programme,” he had said. Some leaders suggested that Tiwari’s absence was meant to convey his “disapproval” of Goel’s “interference” in the Delhi unit.
“The differences between the two leaders — prompted by Goel’s decisions to announce programmes for Delhi and Tiwari’s response — have not gone unseen by the central leadership. While people may ascribe different motives to Goel for organising the programmes, no one can stop any leader from taking initiatives for the deprived,” a senior party leader said.
Meanwhile, addressing the youth, Goel said his ministry would organise mini-fests in slums with themes such as Swachhta, Digital India, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, etc. “We will aim to create model slums. Groups of youth will work as agents of change to develop their respective slums,” Goel said. He added that the adopt a slum campaign will involve groups such as the NSS, public schools, RWAs, NGOs and rotary clubs.