'BJP was soft on Bangaru Laxman'

Had the BJP acted well in time, it would not have to face the embarrassment of one of its top leaders being convicted in a bribery case, senior party leader Shanta Kumar yesterday.

Kumar had raised the demand to remove Bangaru Laxman immediately after he was caught on camera in 2001, receiving Rs 1 lakh in cash from a journalist of newsportal posing as an arms dealer.

“When I raised the demand, some party leaders were not happy with my suggestion. Now, they are saying the party has nothing to do with Bangaru,” the party vice president said.

A Delhi court on Saturday awarded four years’ rigorous imprisonment to Laxman for accepting the bribe from the journalist disguised as an arms dealer.

“If the party would have acted at that time, it would be in a position now to say that it had taken action against the person who was involved in corruption. But unfortunately, we cannot not say this today as we didn’t take action on time,” he added. Still, Kumar said, the BJP “should introspect. It is time to take some tough steps against corruption.”

He said BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh is also no exception. “There is a need to check corruption. (The government) is compromising on the issue and needs to address it seriously.” Kumar has been staying away from the state party meetings, saying the Prem Kumar Dhumal-led government is not tough against corruption and is promoting nepotism.

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