Atiq Khan

Central leadership ‘ignores’ party State Executive meeting

Kalyan Singh, Kalraj Mishra, Katiyar absent

Jaitley deputise for Rajnath Singh

LUCKNOW: With the Central leadership of the BJP virtually ignoring the two-day meeting of the party’s State Executive which ended at Vrindavan in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, the show turned out to be a non-event. Uttar Pradesh figures prominently in the BJP’s poll calculations for the next Lok Sabha elections but eyebrows were raised at the absence of several top-notch State and national leaders with the logic behind holding the event being reportedly questioned by the party workers present at the meeting.

BJP president Rajnath Singh, who was scheduled to address the closing session on Tuesday, followed former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, senior leader Kalraj Mishra and former State unit chief Vinay Katiyar in staying away. Another prominent national party leader from U.P. and former Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi also kept away.

According to BJP sources in Vrindavan, Mr. Rajnath Singh’s absence was attributed to his prior engagements in Delhi where he reportedly presided over a party meeting.

The party general secretary in charge of the BJP’s U.P. affairs, Arun Jaitley, deputised for the BJP president.

Addressing the closing session, Mr. Jaitley hit out against the Prime Minister’s Office and said it had become a “bargaining counter”. He accused the Congress of trying to save its government at the Centre by entering into an alliance with the Samajwadi Party. Drawing a parallel between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mr. Jaitley said leaders of the two parties faced alleged corruption charges. He added that the BSP supported the Congress during the President’s election, now it is the turn of the SP to support the Congress-led UPA Government on the nuclear deal.

Mr. Jaitley said the anti-incumbency factor in U.P. would benefit the BJP. Mr. Kalyan Singh’s absence was the talking point on the opening day. The BJP vice-president is reportedly unhappy with the State and national leadership of the party. Efforts were made to appease the former Chief Minister when two senior leaders called on Mr. Singh a few days before the Vrindavan meet .