New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) Amid growing demands for resignation of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over her alleged favour to former IPL chief Lalit Modi, the BJP on Thursday appeared to brazen out pressure from the opposition and defend the state leader.
The party has earlier rejected opposition demands for resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over her links with Lalit Modi.
With a document surfacing about Raje testifying in favour of Lalit Modi’s British immigration application in 2011 and the Congress stepping up pressure for her resignation, BJP secretary Srikant Sharma told a news channel that a person can render help in “individual capacity”.
Lalit Modi is facing cases related to tax evasion.
Sharma wondered if the document had legal validity according to British laws.
Party sources said the BJP leadership has decided to back Raje for now — till the documents, purportedly signed by her, were verified.
“Vasundhara-ji is not going to be asked to resign under any kind of pressure. Be it from the Congress or from the media,” a senior Bharatiya Janata Party functionary told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
Apart from controversies surrounding Raje and Sushma Swaraj, BJP is also facing demands for resignation of Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani over allegations relating to educational qualification.
Maharashtra Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde was facing a row over awarding contracts worth Rs.206 crore (Rs.2.06 billion).
The controversies faced by the party, which have appeared in quick succession, have galvanised the opposition and taken attention away from the efforts of BJP to reach out to people with achievements of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s first year in office. The Narendra Modi government has completed one year in office last month.
The controversies have come at a time the BJP is bracing for crucial assembly polls in Bihar later this year. The BJP suffered a massive defeat in Delhi earlier this year and elections in Bihar are being seen as crucial for it to regain electoral momentum.
The controversies also threaten to derail the government’s agenda during the monsoon session which is likely to begin on July 21. The session is crucial for the government with crucial bills on goods and services tax and land acquisition pending.
Party sources said the challenge for the party was to keep its image “clean” while also ensuring that there were no ruptures within if a leader is forced to step down.
“The party’s image appears to be taking a dent. At the same time, if Raje is asked to quit, there may be divisions in the party unit in Rajasthan,” a party functionary said demanding anonymity.
He also said there was apprehension that resignation of Raje will embolden the opposition to seek ouster of Sushma Swaraj.
The Congress and other opposition parties were exerting pressure for ouster of Sushma Swaraj, Raje and Irani.
“What is the reason for the prime minister’s silence,” Congress leader Sachin Pilot said on Thursday.
The Congress on Wednesday upped the ante against Raje and showed the purported document allegedly carrying her signatures. The party has also threatened to launch an agitation if Raje did not resign.
Raje is reported to have admitted to party leadership about the document having her signatures.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Aam Aadmi Party have demanded resignation of Raje and Sushma Swaraj. The AAP is also seeking ouster of Irani.
A Delhi court on Wednesday took cognisance of a complaint that Irani allegedly misrepresented her educational qualification in election affidavits.
The Maharashtra unit of Congress has sought Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the controversy surrounding Pankaja Munde.