NEW DELHI: A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party gave a clean chit to party leader Kapil Mishra, accused of inciting violence in Delhi, questions are being raised on whether he had acted on his own or was following orders.
Moderates in the party raised eyebrows when Shyam Jaju, national vice-president and Delhi in-charge, said categorically that Mishra had "done no wrong" and his speech was "not provocative".
Sources revealed that Jaju’s remark has sent a signal to leaders like Gautam Gambhir, BJP’s first-time MP from East Delhi, that "criticism of polarising figures like Mishra will not be entertained".
Gambhir had said, "No matter who the person is, whether he is Kapil Mishra or anyone else, representing any party, if he has given any provocative speech, then strict action should be taken against that person".
Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, a BJP ally, has also demanded that action be taken against leaders who indulged in hate speech.
Former AAP legislator Mishra, who had unsuccessfully contested the recent Assembly polls on a BJP ticket from Model Town, led a gathering in support of the CAA at Maujpur Chowk in the Jafarabad area on Sunday, after which violence erupted between pro and anti-CAA groups. It is learnt that party leadership neither approved of Mishra’s speech nor the pro-CAA protest he had led on Sunday.
Earlier, the party leadership believed that Mishra should have avoided making inflammatory speeches that had attracted unnecessary attention.
"But now the party leadership has decided to defend him. Jaju’s clean chit to his party leader clearly shows that the BJP was firmly behind Mishra," a party leader said.
Moderates in the Delhi BJP, not too happy with Jaju defending Mishra, are questioning why, when everyone in the party was silent over the contentious matter, Jaju had to openly back Mishra.
They say that this could encourage other, small-time leaders to make provocative statements to raise their profile.
A moderate BJP leaders jokingly said that Mr Mishra, who gets more ‘retweets’ and ‘likes’ on social media than he gets votes, should be reigned in.