DDCA row: BJP cracks the whip, suspends Kirti Azad for remarks against Arun Jaitley
New Delhi: Cracking the whip, BJP on Wednesday suspended its MP Kirti Azad, who has been leading a campaign against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on alleged corruption in DDCA, charging him with anti-party activities and accusing him of "colluding" with Congress and AAP to bring it into "disrepute".
The action of the BJP Parliamentary Board to suspend him from the party's primary membership with immediate effect came three days after his press conference attacking Jaitley and subsequent acts of defiance both inside and outside Parliament.
A terse announcement suspending him came from the party headquarters but a detailed communication from the Board went to him listing his "anti-party" activities in and outside Parliament, "lowering the prestige" of the party and its office-bearers.
Azad, the third-term MP from Darbhanga from Bihar and a former cricketer himself, has been for years carrying out a campaign targeting Jaitley over DDCA affairs, but what turned the tide against him was the attack at a press conference here on Sunday against party chief Amit Shah's advise and open defiance on the floor of the Lok Sabha where he sought a time-bound SIT probe.
As the attacks continued, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah and other top leaders rallied around Jaitley, saying he had impeccable record in public life.
Azad had also dared Jaitley to sue him for defamation after the Finance Minister decided to file civil and criminal cases against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders for slander.
Reacting to the decision, 56-year-old Azad called it "unfortunate" and said he had honestly worked for the party. "Wait and watch Wait and watch what I do next. Now I will tell everyone," he said, sounding defiant.
Revelling in the trouble in BJP, the Congress wondered if BJP can "suspend free speech, fair comment, exposure of irregularities and corruption". "These are the questions the Prime Minister must answer," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. who has been at the forefront of the attack on Jaitley, said, "There is no democracy in BJP. Honest voices are muzzled to protect corruption."
Terming the charges against him as "laughable", Azad said he will move the 'margdarshak mandal' (that includes L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi), saying the party has not followed the due process in suspending him. "I am really saddened. I did not think that the BJP would stoop to this level."
The Parliamentary Board's communication to Azad said he had been breaching the party's discipline over the past few months and continued with anti-party activities.
"You have colluded with opposition parties, including Congress and AAP, and embarrassed the party and its office bearers. You have both inside and outside Parliament conducted yourself in a manner which clearly amounts to indiscipline and anti-party activities...”
"You have made several statements in the media which constitute anti-party activities and such unfounded allegations were clearly intended to bring the party and its office-bearers into disrepute. Your actions have also resulted in lowering the prestige of party and its office-bearers," it said.
It charged Azad with carrying on with his "propaganda" against the decision of the party.
Azad's attack on the DDCA affairs became shriller following the CBI raid on the Delhi secretariat and Kejriwal claiming that the raiding team came looking for files relating to "financial bungling" in the DDCA when Jaitley headed it from 1999 to 2013.
The BJP MP was today backed by sulking BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who hailed him as "hero of the day" for fighting corruption and asked Jaitley to follow Advani's example, a suggestion that he should resign before clearing himself.