Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj has opposed the proposed merger of the party with the BSR Congress in Karnataka and has also objected to the possibility of former Congress leader Venod Sharma being inducted into the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), an alliance partner of her party.
On Thursday, Ms. Swaraj tweeted that she had written to party chief Rajnath Singh, expressing her opposition to both proposals.
While the BJP remained tight-lipped about Ms. Swaraj’s statement, sources said she was opposed to the merger with the BSR Congress because the Karnataka party has among its members the Bellary mining barons and Reddy brothers, Janardhana, Karunakara and Somashekara.
Ms. Swaraj’s opposition comes a day after BSR Congress leader B. Sreeramulu announced his plan to rejoin the BJP.
Concerned over Ms. Swaraj’s objection, the Karnataka BJP has decided to convince her about the need to enlist Mr. Sreeramulu’s support for the Lok Sabha election.
State BJP leaders blamed Mr. Sreeramulu’s hurried announcement of his rejoining plans even before he had got the permission from Central leaders.
“He should have waited till the Central leaders approved the merger,” they said. At the same time, they appeared confident of convincing Ms. Swaraj to drop her objections.
The opposition to the merger, especially the induction of the Reddy brothers, has put the party in a quandary as the State BJP was keen to partner the BSR Congress, which has over 3 per cent votes.
The Reddy brothers had quit the BJP following their arrest in the Bellary mining scam and floated the BSR Congress under the leadership of Mr. Sreeramulu, a former Karnataka Minister, in 2012. The BSR Congress won four seats in the 2013 Assembly elections in Karnataka.
In her letter to Mr. Singh, Ms. Swaraj also opposed the induction of Mr. Sharma into the HJC. “I am strongly opposed to this. I have conveyed my views to Kuldeep Bishnoi,” she said on Twitter.
After quitting the Congress, Mr. Sharma, whose son Manu is currently serving out a sentence in Tihar Jail in the Jessica Lal murder case, had shown interest in switching sides to the BJP, but was turned down.
The BJP and the HJC have a tie-up in Haryana.
(With additional reporting by B.S. Satish Kumar in Bangalore)