A day after he told The Indian Express that “there is no longer adequate samvaad (dialogue) happening in our party”, veteran BJP leader and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar claimed that three ministers had praised him for speaking up.
In an interview to Karan Thapar for India Today on Wednesday, Kumar, when asked whether he is the lone dissenting voice in the BJP, said, “There are many but I have spoken out. I am just back from the central hall and I received support from so many. One minister asked me, ‘Why tension (sic). Everybody is proud of you.’ Majority people told me that.”
“Not just one, three ministers told me someone had to speak out. You dared, which was nice. A large majority feel that someone showed the courage to say the right thing,” he added.
Kumar denied reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ticked him off for his statements.
In a letter to Shah, Kumar had said 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 committee to act as an “internal Lokpal”.
A day later, speaking to The Indian Express, Kumar said, “There is no way for people like me to communicate with the leadership.”
On Wednesday, referring to the Vyapam scam, he said, “I strongly felt that BJP’s image has been dented, which is why I wrote in my letter that the party must introspect and investigate. I never demanded that the chief minister (Shivraj Singh Chouhan) should resign.” He also said the party needed to introspect on the controversy surrounding Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
“After the completion of one year, we were celebrating our achievements… but during the celebrations, from Rajasthan to Maharashtra, fingers were pointed at to us. I felt as if our celebrations have been eclipsed. I was compelled to write the letter when Uma Bharati said that there is a threat to her and her close aides’ lives. Someone from my own party feels as if there is a threat to their life.”
Regarding allegations against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over her association with former IPL chief Lalit Modi, Kumar said he was satisfied with the version she put forth before the parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday.
On BJP’s claims of being the world’s biggest political party, Kumar said, “We are the largest political party but we are yet to be the best.”
“The PM is not required to give his statement on all issues but on these, he has to speak on the floor of the House. He will do so at an appropriate time,” said Kumar.
Asked whether he rescinds his earlier statement that Modi should have resigned from the chief minister’s post in the wake of the 2002 Gujarat riots, he said that he stands by the statements he made at the time, but also believes that Modi is the right man to be the prime minister. “I said what my conscience told me back then,” he said.