Laxman made sacrificial goat?
From R Akhileshwari
Even as a section of the people is supporting Bangaru Laxman's allegation that he was a victim of a conspiracy because of he is a dalit, a section of the BJP here believes he was made a "bakra," if not by the party leadership, by circumstances. There is dismay in the AP unit of BJP at the unceremonious exit of Laxman, the first Dalit president of BJP. "He's a good man, we (state BJP) stand by him," a top party leader told DHNS here today. Party sources denied there were differences between Laxman and the Prime Pinister that led to the prompt acceptance of his resignation.
The word 'conspiracy' comes up again and again in conversations with BJP leaders. Top party leaders feel Laxman was "trapped" in a bid to tarnish his image and to use it to wean away the Dalit constituency that had been veering towards the party with Laxman taking over as president. "What is one lakh rupees? Why will he take so little money?" commented a leader on Laxman accepting one lakh rupees from the undercover Tehelka investigator. "I am confident Laxman is not involved in any thing ... it is no amount really" he asserted meaning the amount was insignificant.
However, a common feeling in the party leaders is that it was a mistake to take the money, but they point out that it was taken for party funds and as a "gift" as the investigator himself specified while offering the money. No one, however, is able to clearly state that the amount was deposited with the party. "He must have handed it over to the party ... he can't keep so much cash with himself," said one of the senior BJP leaders.
A middle rung leader asserted he would have sent it the same day to the party treasurer and as evidence of BJP's clean record in money matters, pointed out that BJP was the only political party to submit the party accounts to the income-tax authorities. Asked if there was no contradiction in the prompt acceptance by Mr Vajpayee of Laxman's resignation while rejecting Defence Minister George Fernandes' resignation, BJP sources here made a distinction between the party and government affairs. "The party had to send a positive signal that it believes and practices moral values ... besides Fernandes' role was not proved nor was he implicated in the Tehelka tapes," said a senior party leader.
CASTE CONSPIRACY: The theory of "caste conspiracy" against Laxman is being supported by the party as it believes Laxman was succeeding in weaning Dalits and to some extent the minorities by his Nagpur message, away from their traditional supporters, mainly the Congress. "A favourable trend was evident among Dalits because of Laxman," said a top party leaders. He believes, the 'conspiracy' was to first discredit Laxman, get him out of his post and then try and woo back the Dalits by stating that BJP was anti-Dalit. "This is clearly a double-edged weapon," being used by rivals of BJP, he said. While the "conspirator" is clearly Congress, BJP is against naming it since it lacks evidence to nail the Congress. It, however, said it would go into the roots of the Tehelka investigation and 'expose' its connections and agenda. Several Dalit organisations of AP have interpreted Laxman's ouster from the post of BJP national president as a conspiracy by upper caste leaders within the party. They also urged all dalit leaders in BJP to resign from the party.
PROBE URGED: Meanwhile, Congress leader YS Rajashekar Reddy has demanded a judicial enquiry into allegations that Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had amassed assets worth Rs 2000 crores within and outside the country. These allegations were made by Tehelka.com a few days ago. HoweverTehelka withdrew its story and carried Mr Naidu's letter of explanation. "Ten days ago he (Naidu) dismissed the Tehelka report as lacking in credibility. Now, by seeking a probe into the defence deal scandal, he has accepted that the website has credibility. He should now allow a probe into the Tehelka report on his assets by a sitting Supreme Court judge," he said. "The defence deal is big and the report on Naidu's assets is equally big. There are several allegations of misappropriation and corruption in energy deals, development of Kakinada and Gangavaram ports, liquor purchases and others," he said. He also said Laxman had resigned the moment he was alleged to have been a part of a defence scandal and the Central government had agreed to a thorough probe. No motives could be attributed to Laxman as he had accepted the Rs 1 lakh offered by Tehelka team as party fund, he added.