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|November 28, 1998||
'The BJP is a house on fire. The fire has been caused by a spark within'
Delhi Chief Minister Sushma Swaraj finally shed her inhibitions about discussing the Bharatiya Janata Party's shortcomings as the Congress headed towards a two-thirds majority in Delhi. Swaraj conceded that squabbling in the BJP had resulted in the electoral setback. "The BJP is a house on fire," she told Star News. "The fire has been caused by a spark within."
Swaraj was unusually forthright as she spoke of the need to tackle the problems of indiscipline which had taken the BJP to its worst election disaster in the capital.
Former Delhi chief minister Sahib Singh Verma, whom Swaraj replaced last month, a few weeks before the polls, took the opportunity on television to lash out at his old party rival, Madan Lal Khurana. He said he had never made their dispute public, insinuating that Khurana had dragged the matter through the slush and highlighted the troubles within the BJP for the capital's electorate.
In another television interview, Khurana hit back, pointing out that apart from rising prices, the BJP had fared poorly because of factionalism.
In Rajasthan, BJP Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat resigned on Saturday evening, accepting responsibility for the party's rout in Rajasthan. Shekhawat claimed local issues were responsible for the defeat, but refused to accept the suggestion that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee should resign because of the BJP's defeats in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The prime minister himself told reporters that he had not expected the BJP's poor performance. The party, he said, would soon go into the causes for the debacle.
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