Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on Thursday objected publicly to the planned merger of B. Sriramulu’s BSR Congress with the BJP in Karnataka, and Haryana’s rebel Congress MLA Venod Sharma’s attempt to enter the NDA through the Haryana Janhit Congress.
Sriramulu, a close associate of jailed mining baron Janardhana Reddy, on Wednesday announced plans to merge his BSR Congress with the BJP.
A day later, Swaraj tweeted, “I am opposed to the BSR alliance or merger with BJP in Karnataka. I have conveyed to Shri Raj Nath Singhji in writing that BJP must not permit this.” The BJP has not officially confirmed the merger, but Sriramulu was learnt to have got the green signal from the party. Following Swaraj’s tweets, however, spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi declined to comment on the matter on Thursday.
On the entry of Haryana MLA Venod Sharma into Kuldeep Bishnoi’s HJC, Swaraj tweeted, “I am strongly opposed to this. I have conveyed my views to Shri Kuldeep Bishnoi,” leading to the cancellation of Sharma’s induction into the party on Thursday.
Sharma is considered a close associate of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The HJC, which was expected to field Sharma from Karnal, is a BJP ally.
Swaraj was learnt to have objected to Sriramulu’s return when it was first proposed after former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa came back to the BJP in January. Senior Karnataka BJP leaders accompanied by Yeddyurappa met Rajnath Singh in early February to ask him to let Sriramulu’s BSR Congress into the BJP. But Rajnath, who knew of Swaraj’s objections, gave them no assurance.
Party sources indicated that Narendra Modi, who addressed a rally with Yeddyurappa last month, was keen to get Sriramulu back to bolster prospects in Karnataka. Yeddyurappa, the sources said, had also lobbied with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley to get Swaraj to soften her line on Sriramulu.