Monday, March 8

Kapil Gujjar’s quick entry, exit from BJP: A throwback to similar inductions

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Kapil Gujjar’s quick entry and exit from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday was a throwback to similar inductions into the party in 2014 that led to a public outcry and forced similar exits. Hours after he joined the party on Wednesday, Gujjar, who fired at a demonstration against the Citizen (Amendment) Act in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, was hurriedly expelled.

As social media reactions poured in criticising the party for inducting Gujjar, a red-faced BJP unit in Uttar Pradesh issued a statement claiming they had “no idea of his involvement in the controversial Shaheen Bagh incident.”

This is not the first time that the party has had to issue a quick expulsion message following the public uproar.

In 2014, Sabir Ali from Bihar was expelled from the party within hours of his induction. Ali’s entry into the BJP set off a furore within the party as well with some members alleging he was a sympathiser of Yasin Bhatkal, the alleged mastermind of the terror group Indian Mujahideen. BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is now a Union minister, had tweeted against Ali’s joining but later deleted the post. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, BJP ideological fount, also backed Naqvi’s opposition to Ali’s joining.

Ali’s induction was discussed at the party’s highest levels with the then BJP president Rajnath Singh suggesting that such issues should be discussed internally. The same year, late Sushma Swaraj made public her opposition to the induction of B Sriramulu, an associate of Karnataka’s Reddy brothers accused in the Bellary mining scam.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that B Sriramulu has been admitted in the party despite my stiff opposition,” Swaraj had tweeted even as Sriramulu was not removed from the party.

The BJP was also forced to rescind the membership of another controversial figure, Pramod Muthalik, who joined the party in Karnataka’s Hubli with much fanfare in 2014. Muthalik heads the Sri Ram Sene, which led an attack on women at a pub in Mangaluru in 2009.

Asked whether the party is considering a process to streamline the joining of candidates, a senior leader said it is not possible to keep track of every joinee.

“For mass-based political parties, not just the BJP, it is not possible to keep track of every entry or induction. Sometimes these inductions happen at the block level or the district level. It is only when something untoward about a candidate is brought to the notice of the state or the central leadership that action is taken,” the leader said on condition of anonymity.

The leader said most inductions that happen in the presence of senior party leaders at the state or the central level are arranged based on the joinee’s request.

“Sometimes those who want to join request the state or the central leadership that their formal induction into the party fold be done in the presence of senior leaders otherwise there is no protocol for joining,” the leader said.

Patna-based political commentator Ajay Kumar Jha said, “While it is not possible for parties to keep track of every joining, it is important that they take quick action if they find that the credentials of anyone are questionable.”