Red-faced BJP won't field ex-BSP minister in Uttar Pradesh polls

Faced with a virtual revolt from sections of its Uttar Pradesh unit against the induction of former BSP Ministers, who were sacked on charges of corruption, a red-faced BJP announced on Wednesday that it would not field the former Minister, Babu Singh Kushwaha, in the coming Assembly elections.

Mr. Kushwaha, main accused in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, was formally inducted into the party on Tuesday along with another sacked Minister Badshah Singh, despite opposition from several senior national leaders.

The announcement came hours after the CBI raided Mr. Kushwaha's residence in connection with the NRHM scam.

In an obvious damage-control exercise, the party quickly clarified that Mr. Kushwaha was not being considered for nomination as its candidate, and he would not be a “star campaigner” either.

Mr. Kuswaha, an erstwhile confidant of Chief Minister Mayawati, is considered to be an influential OBC leader.

Several national leaders, including L.K. Advani, are said to be of the view that the induction of the scam-hit BSP Ministers into the party would seriously undermine the party's campaign against corruption.

“We induct various people into the party ahead of the elections. It is not necessary we give them ticket. In this case, the party is not considering giving him [Mr. Kushwaha] ticket,” BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said at a press conference here.

Mr. Naqvi accused the United Progressive Alliance government of “misusing” the CBI, and questioned the timing of the raid. The Congress and the BSP had entered into a dangerous alliance and it was scripted by Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh, he alleged.

There was more bad news for the BJP. Its ally, Janata Dal (United), announced that it would contest all 403 seats in the State, after its seat-sharing talks with the BJP collapsed.

JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav criticised the culture of parties accommodating candidates with questionable record with an eye on elections. Politics should remain clean and it could not survive if tainted people were nominated, he said.

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