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The Rediff Special/rediff News Features Desk
Fight club: BJP vs BJP, but who wins?
September 13, 2005
In the red corner: Madan Lal Khuarana, a leader of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, former Delhi chief minister and ex-Rajasthan governor.
In the blue corner: Lal Kishenchand Advani, BJP president.
The (e)X factor: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former BJP chief and former prime minister.
The fight: On August 18, Khurana grabbed headlines when he wrote to Advani, declaring that the BJP was being run like a private limited company. He could not work under Advani, the former Delhi chief minister said. And in a pang of conscience now typical of dissident BJP leaders, he advised Advani to remove Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi – also a BJP leader -- over the 2002 communal riots in that state.
Two days later, Khurana was suspended from the BJP. On August 22, he was served a show cause notice. On August 29, he wrote to the party, saying he needed more time to answer the notice. The case was referred to a party disciplinary committee headed by former petroleum minister Ram Naik. On September 6, the disciplinary committee recommended Khurana be expelled for six years. And he was.
That was the cue for Vajpayee, who declared in a letter on September 8 that Khurana's expulsion was 'unfortunate'. Khurana became even more aggressive, calling Advani a dictator. Interestingly, Khurana had met the former prime minister a day before.
What followed were hectic intra-BJP parlays. Former ministers and veteran BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Murli Manohar Joshi voiced support for Khurana's re-induction into the party. Jaswant Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu, Advani men both, met Vajpayee. Advani and Vajpayee spoke to each other, finally.
In the meanwhile, Khurana got his formal expulsion letter.
And voila, Khurana was back in the BJP.
And the winner is: Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Yes, it's he who has got the maximum mileage from the Khurana versus Advani spat. Lately relegated to pretty much the political sidelines, he has bounced back as a leader with clout in an increasingly factional BJP.
Note who declared that Khurana was taken back into the party: Pramod Mahajan.
Note who Khurana's apology letter was sent through: Mahajan again.
And everyone knows the former Advani man is now Vajpayee's man.
What it also means is that Advani becomes even more embattled.
And that India's largest Opposition party is busier fighting itself than the government.
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