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Jan 05, 2012 at 09:22am IST

Kushwaha row: BJP doublespeak on corruption?

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) anti-corruption plank has taken a hit after its leadership rejected the demand to reverse the decision of inducting scam-tainted leader former BSP MLA Babu Singh Kushwaha in Uttar Pradesh.

A day after he switched loyalties and moved to the BJP, the CBI raided former Mayawati minister Babu Singh Kushwaha. An FIR has been filed against him in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, but sources say that he is unlikely to be arrested for now. He is believed to be co-operating with the investigators. An embarrassed BJP claimed that the raids were a Congress-BSP plot.

A visibly embarrassed BJP top brass went into a huddle. A retreat now as they did with DP Yadav in 2004 could be counterproductive. So, the BJP did the next best thing, denying Kushwaha a party ticket, but playing the caste card.

For the BJP now, offence is the best defence. In UP's complex caste matrix, the party now wants to reach out to backward Keori votes through Kushwaha, but on the flip side, the question is will it not disturb the BJP's core urban voteback in the state.

A section of the party, though, was clearly upset, including LK Advani who rode a rath recently to campaign against corruption.

The UP state BJP working committee member IP Singh has even been suspended after he spoke out against the top brass decision to induct Kushwaha into the party. IP Singh had said, "The decision to bring Kushwaha in was a blunder. The BJP must review its decision and show him the door."

So the BJP remained divided over the entry of Kushwaha, even as BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the tainted former minister will not be given a ticket, nor will he be their star campaigner.

The NDA allies were not impressed either. However, for the Congress though, it was an opportunity to strike back.

Watching all the chaos, the question is whether the Congress is the prince. The more all the opposition parties squabble amongst themselves, the better the Congress's chance of getting new votes.