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A divided BJP fails to take on Sheila regime

By Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI, NOV. 21. Recent weeks have seen a slew of "harsh'' decisions taken by the Sheila Dikshit Government that have even created fissures within the Congress party. But these have failed to move the Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party that is not only low on morale but also busy settling intra-party disputes. Coupled with this, the developments in the party at the national level have badly shaken the cadres and local leaders.

While the local unit headed by Harsh Vardhan had reacted sharply to the proposed hike in water tariff and bus fares, it failed to go to town with the issue. Similarly, the professional tax issue has been handled in a much better manner by the MCD leaders than at the State level in the saffron party. The party has also failed to cash in on the "power scam'' that had first been exposed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report and later by the actions of the Delhi Government that had gone overboard to accommodate the interests of the private companies.

What is most interesting in this turn of events is that while a section of the Congress party in the Capital has reportedly approached the party high command against these decisions, the Delhi BJP has failed to make it a major issue. Many within the party are of the view that recent developments within the party at the national level had left the cadres and the party leaders dejected and there was hardly any enthusiasm among the partymen to undertake an agitation on issues that would have put the Sheila Dikshit Government on the defensive.

Similarly, be it the issue of agitation on the issue of closure of industries or against the imposition of house tax on villagers across the Capital, the party and its leaders have been found wanting on all these fronts. The so-called leader of the masses and former Union Minister, Sahib Singh Verma, has failed to take up the cause of the villagers who have been adversely affected by the new house tax regime.

On the other hand, there is the former Chief Minister, Madan Lal Khurana, who resigned as Rajasthan Governor to join the agitation against closure of industries, only to find that the issue had already been hijacked by the New Delhi Member of Parliament, Ajay Maken, and later by the Delhi Government and the Union Urban Development Ministry. The proposed hike in water charges, marginal increase in power tariff and revision of bus fares has failed to move Mr. Khurana. "It is strange that Mr. Khurana had talked about resolving the problems affecting the people of Delhi when he returned to active politics. However, such issues have not received his attention indicating that he was not happy with the treatment meted out to him by the party and its central leadership ever since return from Rajasthan and is waiting for the right opportunity to put across his point of view,'' a senior party leader remarked.

It is learnt that Mr. Khurana is still awaiting word from the party high command on his rehabilitation and accommodation in the national team of office bearers and till then he was interacting with his supporters on his future course of action. Interestingly, Mr. Khurana is yet to become an active member of the BJP after he had resigned from its primary membership when he took over as Rajasthan Governor in January this year. ``The party is in a state of suspended animation. There is total lack of enthusiasm under the new leadership and the local leaders hardly see a ray of hope in the near future. Everybody seems to be banking upon the infighting within the Congress and growing resentment against the Sheila Dikshit Government in view of the recent harsh decisions,'' a senior party MLA stated.

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