All BJP MLAs in the state have decided to return the gifts — including a trolly briefcase, a pen, a notebook and a broom — which Urban Development Minister Azam Khan had sent to all Assembly members after the Budget Session of the House ended on March 26.
This comes after BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpai returned these gifts — received by all MLAs a few days after the House session ended — to Khan. Following this, on April 16, Khan wrote to Bajpai demanding that when he had returned these gifts, he should also return the ones he had received earlier from the state government. Now, all party MLAs have decided to follow Bajpai and return the gifts.
Some BJP leaders also alleged that sending a broom along with other gifts was either to mock Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Clean India’ campaign or BJP’s defeat in the recent Delhi elections. AAP’s election symbol is a broom.
BJP deputy leader in Legislative Assembly, Dharmpal Singh, said: “The gifts were given with wrong intentions. The Cabinet minister sent the gifts at the official residence of the MLAs without informing them. Also, it was given after the end of the session. Hence, the party has decided that all MLAs will return the gifts to Azam’s office.”
Claiming that these gifts were given at the expense of the state exchequer, he added: “While gifts should not be returned out of courtesy, but gifts packed along with a broom speaks of wrong intentions… Yeh uphaar nahin, uphaas hai (That is not a gift but a way to ridicule us).”
He further said that no such gifts — like a trolly-briefcase and a broom — had been given by the government in the earlier budget sessions. “The government has been giving small bags to carry notebooks, files and papers and pens that are used by every MLA for routine work… We have no objection to the broom as a gift because BJP promotes cleanliness and I clean my residence myself,” Singh added.
BJP leader in the Legislative Council, Hridya Narain Dixit, said he will return the gift to Khan’s office on Monday while other members will return the same when they visit Lucknow next. While there are 41 BJP members in the Legislative Assembly, there are six in the Legislative Council.
A BJP MLA, however, went on to question the timing of returning the gifts. “It should have been returned immediately after it was received at the residence of MLAs. But the decision to return the gift after about a month does not sound right. However, as it is a party decision, I will also return the gifts like others,” the MLA said.
When contacted, SP MLA from Sirsaganj, Hariom Yadav, said: “The BJP speaks of culture and tradition says that gifts given with affection should not be returned. BJP MLAs are going against culture. When top party leaders themselves propagate cleaning with a broom, why are their MLAs returning the gifts given along with a broom?”