India’s erstwhile junior defence minister Prof Chaman Lal Gupta is gradually emerging as the parallel leader of the state BJP. Apparently leading the seven members who voted for the ruling coalition in Legislative Council elections, his group is busy in a fierce battle against the other four, apparently led by Ashok Khajuria.
The seven members have already been suspended by the party but they retain their status of the lawmakers of the state legislature.
The BJP last week suspended its vice-president, Anil Gupta, and served a show-cause notice to him for indulging in anti-party activities. He is the son of Prof Gupta and this has infuriated the rebels further.The rebels have come out in the open. A day after the suspension of Gupta junior, they declared their group was the “real” BJP, under the leadership of Prof Gupta. Two of their MLAs made public replies to the show-cause notice issued to them. They blamed the mess on Khajuria. In fact, another member of the rebels B B Bodhi had earlier gone to court and got a stay to the proceedings of the BJP’s Disciplinary Action Commitee led by O P Kohli.
The rebels are quoting constitutional provisions to assert that, being the majority, the party cannot act against them. They openly say they are neither worried about their expulsion from the party nor on account of any such action in the House but were certainly “pained” to see their leader being humiliated. They are seeking answers to two questions. Firstly, why did Khajuria not accept that the party abstains from voting in the legislative council? Secondly, if ballot continues to be secret in J&K, how could the high command identify the seven who cross-voted? Some of them had volunteered to undergo narco-analysis and brain-mapping to unravel the mystery.Party insiders say the division is too deep and the informal split could in the coming days lead to the formation of a new party. Already, there is thinking in the BJP that even if all the Hindus in the state vote for the BJP, they will never be in a position to become part of the government and policy-making. So, a section in the RSS is of the opinion of having a party that will be regional in character and an ideological ally that in the long run will be in a position to forge alliances with Kashmir based NC and PDP.
BJP has 11 members. During the voting for the six legislative council seats, the party’s official candidate ended up having only four votes. Seven votes that were missing were actually found in the kitty of the ruling coalition with the BJP members actually obliging both the NC and Congress. An embarrassed BJP summoned all the lawmakers to Delhi where they were suspended. The party, however, stopped short of terminating them – even after taking resignations from all of them – thinking it would create a crisis that would severely dent the party in Jammu.