More trouble for BJP as it cracks down on dissension (Lead)

June 13th, 2009 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) With fissures in the party coming out in the open, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday sought to crack down on dissension even as senior leader Yashwant Sinha quit as the party’s national vice-president urging for reconstitution of the party following its drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections.
BJP chief Rajnath Singh Saturday asked leaders to “refrain” from voicing their criticism of one another in the public domain and said those breaching the directive would invite “disciplinary action”.

He was addressing the media here after senior leaders Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Jaitley and Sudheendra Kulkarni, in thinly veiled references, blamed the party leadership for the poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP won just 116 seats this time, down from 138 in 2004.

Rajnath Singh said: “Statements by different leaders in the media have created an impression that the party leadership is in disarray and is not analysing the reasons for defeat. This is far from truth. The BJP leadership stands united…”

The BJP chief said the “party leadership should refrain from sharing any view outside the party forum such as media or share any information that might create a negative image of the party”.

Failing to adhere to the directive would invite “disciplinary action”, he said.

Meanwhile, Sinha, who was in Jharkhand, faxed his resignation letter to Rajnath Singh, party sources said.

Sinha, foreign minister in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance national government, Saturday offered prayers at the Chinmastikka temple situated at Rajrappa in Ramgarh district.

He refused to speak to media persons on the issue, saying: “I do not want to talk about it.” Sinha in the past had attacked senior leader L.K. Advani over the Jinnah episode.

He won from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections.

Rajnath Singh’s directive to party leaders comes a day after the BJP ruled out taking action against veteran leader Jaswant Singh, party MP from Darjeeling in West Bengal, for voicing in the media criticism of the party over its poor poll show.

On Wednesday, Jaswant Singh had angrily stated at the party’s core group meeting, held at the residence of L.K. Advani, that there should be a connect between “parinaam aur puraskar (results and rewards)”.

His reference was to Arun Jaitley who was the BJP’s chief poll manager and has been made Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, a post which Jaswant Singh held before being elected to the Lok Sabha.

Jaswant Singh is also learnt to have said that those who were in charge of the elections were now finding fault with the campaign by writing in the media.

His reference was again to Jaitley, who wrote in the Indian Express May 27, criticising aspects of the party’s poll campaign, especially the attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He wrote: “The prime minister’s own image created a sense of sympathy that a man who wanted to deliver was being obstructed from proceeding further.”

Key Advani aide and poll strategist Sudheendra Kulkarni, in his analysis of the poll results in Tehelka newsmagazine, also made comments critical of the party.

He said the party needs to introspect on reasons for the defeat. “The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) needs it no less. The leaders must ask themselves, and answer the question honestly and earnestly - why is the acceptability of the RSS and VHP limited to Hindu society itself?”

He also said the party did nothing while its allies started moving away in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat sectarian violence.

Jaswant Singh in an interview to the NDTV television channel said the BJP needed to be a “current party” and should reinvent itself.

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