As Akash Vijayvargiya, who assaulted a civic official with a cricket bat on June 26, attends the ongoing Budget Session of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, BJP state disciplinary committee convener Babusingh Raghuvanshi has said he is not sure if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s criticism of the action was directed at the Indore MLA.
In an apparent justification of Vijayvargiya’s behaviour, Raghuvanshi added, “I am also a lawyer, and when someone is provoked, like Akash was, the punishment is different.”
It has been nearly three weeks since Modi’s remarks, seen as condemnation of the assault and of Akash’s remarks justifying the same. It was expected that disciplinary action would follow against the MLA, who is the son of prominent BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Confirming that Akash’s case had not been referred to the three-member disciplinary committee, Raghuvanshi told The Sunday Express, “Did he (the PM) name Akash? There were some other instances (of indiscipline), maybe he referred to all of them together. Is there a sound byte or video of him saying what has been attributed to him?” He also said, “If the PM has actually condemned it (the incident), it’s more than a punishment.”
About taking up Akash’s case, Raghuvanshi said, “It will come to me only if the state BJP chief is unhappy with (Akash’s) reply to a notice, if it has been served… In any case, when a criminal offence is registered, it’s for the courts to take a call.”
While addressing the BJP parliamentary board on July 2, the PM had said, “Arrogance and misbehaviour will not be tolerated irrespective of whoever it may be, whoever’s son he may be.” He had also hinted that action should be taken against the leaders who welcomed Akash after he was released on bail.
But not just the MLA, the state BJP is yet to take any action against the partymen who were part of the welcome either. Moreover, confusion prevails over whether a show-cause notice has been served on the 33-year-old MLA, if he has apologised, whether this has been accepted or not, or forwarded to the central unit.
Following the PM’s comments, Akash had met Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Rakesh Singh twice at the party headquarters and is believed to have apologised during his second visit.
Asked about the matter, Rakesh Singh told The Sunday Express, “Requisite information will be made available to the media at an appropriate time.” He refused to elaborate.
Senior BJP leaders told the Express that the failure to act against Akash was embarrassing for the party, given how quickly it had cracked down against Uttarakhand MLA Pranav Singh ‘Champion’ over a video, and against ex-MLA Surendranath Singh for threatening to “spill the blood” of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
“Is the state organisation bigger than the Prime Minister? Despite the PM clearly spelling out what he thought, nothing has been done so far,” said a BJP Rajya Sabha member from the state, adding that the state chief should make the party’s position on the issue clear.
An Indore-based leader said the party was dragging its feet over Akash due to his father, and claimed that while they were not keen on defending the MLA, instructions to do so had come from a senior leader.
Only former Lok Sabha Speaker and BJP Indore-based leader Sumitra Mahajan has spoken out. “What is wrong is wrong,” she told reporters in Indore recently.