The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party yesterday suspended its MP Kirti Azad, who has alleged large-scale corruption in Delhi’s cricket body when it was headed by the current Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
“He has been suspended for anti-party activities,” BJP general secretary Anil Jain said, reading out an official statement.
Party spokesman G V L Narasimha Rao added that the party acted against Azad, a three-time Lok Sabha member from Darbhanga in Bihar, for taking an “anti-BJP line”.
Azad, a member of the 1983 Indian cricket team which won the World Cup, is the first BJP MP to be suspended since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May last year.
Azad has for years carried on a campaign against what he calls major corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), which was headed by Jaitley for 13 years until 2013.
Azad said it was unfortunate he had been suspended for “speaking the truth.”
“What anti-party activity have I done?” asked as journalists sought his reaction.
He said he had never targeted Jaitley, “although much of the wrongdoing took place during his tenure.”
Azad denied he was in collusion with the opposition Congress or Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which too have taken on Jaitley over the DDCA issue. “It is they who have taken up my issue.”
Asked about his future programme, a defiant Azad said: “See what happens now. The fun starts.”
Earlier in the day, BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha described Azad as a “hero”.
“Kirti Azad-hero of the day,” the outspoken actor-turned-politician tweeted.
Sinha, who has had problems with the BJP during the Bihar assembly elections, urged the party not to take action against Azad.
“Humble appeal to friends. Avoid knee jerk reaction/coercive action against (a) friend who’s fighting against corruption.
“Have often quoted Newton’s 3rd Law. Feel that untimely action could boomerang. Sadly, Party With a Difference has become Party With Differences.”
Sinha had a piece of advice for Jaitley: “As for FM (finance minister), (the) issue should be fought politically not legally. As advised by our dashing dynamic PM, our FM could follow Advaniji’s example and come clean.”
Veteran BJP leader L K Advani had declined to contest elections when he was accused of involvement in the hawala scandal in the 1990s.
On Tuesday, Modi had said that Jaitley would come out of the DDCA row with flying colours.
Sinha’s support for Azad came a day after senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi demanded disciplinary action against the MP.
Meanwhile the AAP dubbed Azad’s suspension “unfortunate” and said he was being punished for battling corruption.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the BJP had exposed itself by suspending Azad.
“Kirti Azad’s fault was that he raised his voice against corruption. The BJP stands completely exposed today. The BJP is drowned in corruption,” the AAP leader tweeted.
Also yesterday, hundreds of AAP activists detained after they staged a noisy protest near Jaitley’s home demanding his resignation.
Shouting slogans such as “Arun Jaitley must resign” and “Arun Jaitley must be arrested”, the activists massed outside his home in the heart of Delhi.
They were led by party leaders Dilip Pandey and Somnath Bharti, a former minister and now a legislator.
Police used water cannons to disperse the protesters and detained many of them including Pandey and Bharti.
“Detained in Parliament Street (police station) with hundreds of volunteers. Excitement is infectious. God bless AAP!!,” Bharti tweeted.
“Jaitley should resign from the post as serious allegations of corruption (have been levelled) against him,” he added.
Jaitley on Monday filed a defamation suit against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders and demanded Rs100mn in damages for linking him with alleged corruption.
The Delhi government has set up a Commission of Inquiry to probe the alleged corruption.
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