NEW DELHI

DDA raids an attempt to hit out at Khurana?

NEW DELHI MARCH 30. Even as the CBI continues to probe the scam tainted DDA officials, political and party circles are agog with reports that the raids were an indication of the intensified infighting within the BJP and an attempt to marginalise the rising graph of the Delhi BJP president, Madan Lal Khurana, and sabotage his agenda unveiled in the Vision 2003 document released by the party with great fanfare in August last year.

In fact, the raids and subsequent removal of the DDA vice- chairman, Subhash Sharma, and the move to shunt out the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) chairperson, P.M. Singh, are being termed as an attempt to hit out at Mr. Khurana as both these officials were considered close to him and were his personal preference for being posted to these coveted posts. The irony of the situation is that Mr.Subhash Sharma's predecessor, P.K.Hota, now Additional Secretary in Urban Development Ministry, and considered close to the Union Labour Minister, Sahib Singh Verma, is once again back at the helm of affairs in DDA.

Political observers feel that the raids could be part of the bigger intra-party power struggle going on within the BJP. What is most surprising is that the appointment of both Mr.Sharma and Ms. Singh were cleared at the highest level within the party and the Central Government after strong lobbying by Mr. Khurana to have somebody in DDA who belongs to Delhi and understands its problem. The CBI raids on Mr. Sharma and casting of aspersions on the conduct of Ms. Singh has baffled everybody and has thrown up many questions as the Prime Minister's Office directly controls the premier investigating agency. ''If at all these people were tainted, then why were they appointed at such important posts only a few months back. These appointments are done after careful scrutiny and clearance by various agencies. It certainly does not create the right impression and sends very confusing signals,'' a senior party leader remarked.

It is learnt that many within the BJP were unhappy with the party for projecting Mr. Khurana as the Chief Ministerial candidate and could not digest his one man show. It has also exposed the differences between the Delhi BJP and the present dispensation. ''This has clearly unsettled Mr. Khurana and his agenda and now he could find the going a little difficult,'' another leader remarked.

But the raids could not have come at a worse time for the BJP as it was trying to build up a rapport with the electorate by getting a number of populist demands fulfilled. On the other hand, the faction ridden Delhi Congress is clearly rejoiced over the developments and feels that the raids have not only rattled Mr.Khurana but also caused immense damage to the BJP. ''The BJP is in a crisis like situation. They were hoping for a number of decisions to materialise during the next two months to spruce up their acceptance levels among the electorate. But the raids on senior bureaucrats of DDA, known to be close to BJP leaders, certainly helps the cause of our party and shows the saffron party in poor light,'' a Delhi Government Minister stated.

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