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Express concern over DDCA, National Herald controversies eclipsing other pressing issues

Kirti Azad
File Photo

A day after the BJP suspended its Darbhanga MP Kirti Azad, party veterans — LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar — went into a huddle creating a flutter, the second time in less than two months. The meeting held at Joshi’s residence, like last time, was not pre-planned, according to sources. While Kirti Azad’s suspension was not the primary purpose of the meeting, the leaders expressed concern over issues like DDCA row and the National Herald case eclipsing “major issues” like the Paris climate pact, the Nairobi WTO ministerial meeting and farmers’ problems in the Winter Session which ended on Wednesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> They noted that this was the second session in a row which was a washout, in the face of a government-opposition standoff, the sources said. The leaders were also worried that the DDCA row could spill over into the budget session, which begins around February 20. The defamation cases filed by finance minister Arun Jaitley against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders over their DDCA allegations are likely to stretch into February. A leader said “all issues” were discussed. The meeting hogged the limelight as it came a day after Kirti Azad, who had responded saying he was suspended for fighting corruption, said the Marg Darshak Mandal should take cognisance of the issue. Two of the leaders — Advani and Joshi — belong to the BJP’s Marg DarshakMandal, which has never met or held consultations ever since it was set up in August last year. The other members of the Marg Darshak Mandal are Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and home minister Rajnath Singh. Meanwhile, a BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has offered to help Azad in drafting his reply to the party, further bringing out the fault lines in the party. This time the mood of the four party elders appeared to be more of resignation than rebellion. Unlike last time the senior leaders did not come out with any statement. A leader said the party leadership was yet to react or address the concerns expressed in its statement issued on the eve of Diwali, in the aftermath of the Bihar debacle. The four leaders had said the party has been ’emasculated’ in the past year and that to say everyone was responsible for the defeat in Bihar was to ensure that no one was held responsible. The BJP hit back saying the party’s senior leaders had set the precedent of “collective responsibility”. Sources said the party elders appeared resigned to their ‘helplessness’ given their limited role. It was also not clear if they would raise their concerns at some party forum. According to sources, all four leaders were together only for half-an-hour as Advani reached at noon and Sinha had to leave by around 12.30 pm.

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Amidst Darbhanga MP Azad’s suspension, BJP veterans’ meet creates flutter