Maharashtra BJP red-faced over ex-minister’s ‘sting’ revelations

Mumbai, June 26 (IANS) Maharashtra’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was left red-faced on Friday when a purported sting operation on a former minister led to airing of some embarrassing revelations on various issues and individuals and has sought an explanation from him.

The ‘sting’ on influential Mumbai legislator Raj Purohit, a former minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government 1995-1999, was carried out by unidentified people and aired on several local television channels besides going viral on various social networking sites.

Hours after the videos were aired in which Purohit’s no-holds-barred ‘Mann ki Baat’ shows him raising questions on the style of functioning of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, the BJP leader denied making any such statements and demanded a forensic investigation as the voice in the clips is not his.

“I have greatest respect for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is an ideal leader under whom the state is on the route to progress,” he said.

Taking strong note of the utterances, BJP state president Raosaheb Patil Danve said: “I have summoned him for personal discussions on the matter. We will first inquire about the genuineness of the video CDs, and then the party would take appropriate action.”

In the sting, Purohit contends there is “no collective decision-making in the BJP” and calls it a ‘dhokha’ (fraud), while describing Modi and Amit Shah as “the two power centres in the country”.

He alleged that the business community in the country is unhappy over certain decisions of the Modi government, including the move to unearth black money.

“Half the country’s economy runs on black money… I interact daily with the top businessmen. Don’t interfere in everything. Let things continue as they are…” he advises in the video.

Throwing open hints at Chief Minister Fadnavis’ alleged nexus with the builder lobby, Purohit claimed that the money power of Lodha Builders had prevented him from becoming a minister in the current government.

“I am suffering lot of injustice…I was a kingmaker…I am a very dangerous MLA…I am one of the senior-most persons. Yes, I could have been senior-most next to (Eknath) Khadse only…But I was not made minister,” Purohit claimed.

He said that the late union minister Gopinath Munde never favoured an alliance with the Shiv Sena and “wanted to be chief minister right from the beginning”.

The legislator added that if Munde had not died in a car crash and become the chief minister, Fadnavis would have been just a minister.

On his relations with another senior BJP leader, the late Pramod Mahajan, Purohit said they were “closest” to each other, and he executed Mahajan’s plans.

To a question on Lodha Builders – who, like legislator M.P. Lodha, are also the BJP’s prominent functionaries – Purohit said they spent lot of money during elections, running into “crores of rupees”.

Taking umbrage at his statement about Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray – that “he is a bogus leader” – MNS activists vandalised Purohit’s office in Kalbadevi in south Mumbai.

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