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BJP suspends Sangh Priya Gautam

Neena Vyas

"Uma Bharti's impressive rally worrying"



Sangh Priya Gautam

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party president on Tuesday took swift disciplinary action against former all India general secretary and national executive committee member Sangh Priya Gautam for participating in the rally organised by Uma Bharti at the Ramlila grounds here.

Within hours Mr. Gautam was suspended from the primary membership of the party and served a show cause notice asking him to explain why he should not be expelled for anti-party activities. The party had on Monday warned that anyone associating with Ms. Bharti would face stern action.

While the official line from the BJP was that Ms. Bharti would soon run out of steam and meet the fate of all dissidents, there were some senior party leaders who said that her "impressive" rally in Delhi was worrying.

Thankfully, they noted, elections were not round the corner in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana from where some leaders were present on the rally podium. What surprised the BJP leadership, and added to its woes, was the presence of the Chautala brothers, Ajay and Abhay, who were not only present at the public meeting but had also helped to boost the strength of the crowd.

Former Delhi Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana, who attended the rally, was suspended from the party on Sunday and he was able to get some of his loyalists in the Delhi BJP unit to come along with him.

Party leaders were divided on what may happen in the months ahead. The example of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh was cited. He had a proven base in the State and yet he could not make political headway and had to return to the BJP, one senior leader pointed out. But what the party fears is that like Kalyan Singh, Ms. Bharti may be able to destroy the BJP in Madhya Pradesh where the party has had to suspend four MLAs loyal to her. In Delhi too, Mr. Khurana can do damage to the party that has yet to recover from two successive defeats in the Assembly elections.

The immediate message from the party president was: "indiscipline will not be tolerated." The longer-term plan on how to tackle the situation would have to wait till the Assembly elections in five States and the twin rath-yatras of Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

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