DDA musical chair exposes BJP, L-G rift

NEW DELHI APRIL 9. The spate of changes at the helm of affairs in Delhi Development Authority has not only exposed the rumblings and contradictions within the BJP at the local and national level but also brought out into the open the rift between the Delhi BJP leaders and Delhi's Lieutenant-Governor, Vijai Kapoor, over the entire issue.

Sources in the BJP say the local party leaders were not happy with Mr. Kapoor's role in the DDA bribery scam case and a section of the party was of the opinion that the Lieutenant- Governor had a lot to do with the CBI raids and the subsequent appointment of Suman Swaroop as DDA Vice-Chairman. It is learnt that Ms. Swaroop was appointed in haste because of her proximity with the Lieutenant-Governor and the Delhi BJP leaders were not even informed of these developments. The appointment of Ms. Swaroop had come as a shock to the BJP leaders who felt that they were being run down by Raj Nivas and let down by their central leadership.

In fact, it was the strong protests by the Delhi BJP leaders including the local unit president, Madan Lal Khurana, and the Union Labour Minister, Sahib Singh Verma, to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, which forced a change in the DDA resulting in the ouster of Ms. Swaroop within 48 hours of her taking over and the appointment of a senior IAS officer, Anil Baijal, as the new DDA Vice-Chairman. "The manner in which the case of Ms. Swaroop was pushed through by Mr.Kapoor has certainly raised a lot of suspicions. It has sent out an impression that Raj Nivas was trying to get even with some BJP leaders and trying to show who is the boss. But all these development have certainly hurt the image of the party and shown it in poor light,'' a senior BJP leader remarked today.

Interestingly, as the talk about the change in Raj Nivas is doing the rounds, some BJP leaders have started lobbying for Mr. Kapoor's ouster and his replacement by someone who is in line with the party view. A number of BJP leaders feel that if something was seriously wrong in DDA, then why haul up only the officials? The Lieutenant-Governor, being the DDA Chairman, has a big role to play in all the decisions. "Mr. Kapoor should own up moral responsibility for all that has happened and stop blaming the officials and touts for everything,'' another BJP leader added.

On the other hand, sources said the manner in which the central BJP leadership and some higher ups in the Central Government had conducted themselves during the whole affair has certainly not gone down well with Mr. Khurana who looks at all the development as a bid to marginalise him. Incidentally, the latest DDA vice-chancellor was the Principal Secretary to Mr. Khurana when he was the Chief Minister of Delhi and the appointment has his nod. It is learnt Mr. Khurana had raised the matter at the national executive meeting of BJP at Indore and conveyed to the leadership that if the party has to win Assembly elections in Delhi, then the Vision 2003 has to fulfilled within a certain time frame.

The appointment of the Union Urban Development Minister, Ananth Kumar, as the party incharge for Delhi along with party spokesman, Mukhtiar Abbas Naqvi, is being seen as a move to address the concerns of Delhi at the earliest. "The confusion and embarrassment caused by the DDA bribery scam will fade into the background once the promises made to people are implemented one after the other. Things would start moving within the next two months,'' another leader stated.