New Delhi, 27 August: There’s trouble brewing in the top leadership of the ruling BJP. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, considered No 2 in the Narendra Modi government, is reportedly upset with a certain ministerial colleague for spreading ‘malicious and false stories’ about his son Pankaj. The Home Minister came out strongly against the allegations backed by the PMO.
Image courtesy: AFP
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has complained to the BJP leadership about a certain rival ministerial colleague. According to a report in The Economic Times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reportedly ‘ticked off’ with Pankaj for his political misconduct, something Rajnath dismisses as an attempt by a rival colleague to malign his and his family’s image.
Refusing to forgive and forget, Rajnath Singh, according to the business daily, met the top leadership of the BJP including its president Amit Shah and also the RSS, complaining about his colleague in the Modi council of ministers.
“If someone raises questions about my family’s integrity and honour, I’m not going to take it lying down. God will punish those who are playing this dirty game,” Singh reportedly told close aides in the party while leaving the issue to be dealt with by the top leadership of the party.
Speaking to media a short while ago, the Home Minister said, The day the allegations against me and my family are proven to be correct, I will resign from politics.”
“In the last 15-20 days, there have been continuous rumours in the air about me and my family. I thought rumours have no basis and these will end in some days. But I am seeing that these rumours are gaining momentum day-by-day. I want to assure the nation that the day allegations, even prima facie or even small, are proven against me or my family, I will quit politics and public life and sit at home,” he said in a hurriedly called interaction with journalists outside his office in North Block.
The Home Minister said he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah and both of them have expressed surprise over the issue and termed the rumours completely baseless. “I have told this to the Prime Minister and party President Amit Shah when we were sitting together. They have expressed surprise over this and termed it as completely baseless,” Singh said.
Adding to Singh’s woes, Pankaj, who had sought a ticket to contest the Uttar Pradesh by-polls from Noida, was denied a ticket to contest by the BJP, who selected Vimla Batham, a long-time BJP worker, Hindustan Times reported.
Could this be a case of the Home minister’s decreasing clout in the party?
The HT report, quoting a party leader, says this is a clear message to Rajnath of his decreasing clout within the party. “With the change of guard at the top, Rajnath Singh’s influence within the party has decreased,” the partyman said perhaps suggesting now that Rajnath is no longer party president, he has no role in various appointments.
The Economic Times, too, quoted a party leader as saying that such attacks on Rajnath Singh were a clear indication of the power struggle within the party and the Modi government.
“These rumours against Singh and his son started around the time Rajnath was appointed the deputy leader of the Lok Sabha,” a senior party leader told the ET.
However the PMO has come to Rajnath’s defence.
In a statement it said:
“This has reference to reports appearing in a section of the media over the past several weeks, mentioning the Prime Minister, and referring to the conduct of some Union Ministers, and alleged misconduct of the Home Minister’s son.
The reports are plain lies, motivated and constitute a malicious attempt at character assassination and tarnishing the image of the Government.
While Pankaj has now reportedly demanded a ticket for the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, it will be left to see whether the Modi-Shah duo allow family members of senior politicians to get party tickets given his strict policy against allowing two of a family to walk the corridors of power.