BJP whistles new tune, demands govt apology

Party to felicitate leaders released on bail yesterday, in an attempt to put pressure on UPA

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to 'felicitate' its 'whistleblower' former MPs and LK Advani's ex-aide Sudheendra Kulkarni who have been released on bail. BJP president Nitin Gadkari will chair a session on Saturday at the party headquarters in the Capital in which Kulkarni and the two former MPs - Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora -, who have been granted bail by Delhi High Court, will be honoured.

Ashok Argal, who was the third leader in the trio and is a sitting MP, is also likely to be present, party sources said. It is unclear whether Suhail Hindustani, allegedly the mastermind behind the sting, will also be felicitated.

The bailed-out leaders will also recount their experience in jail as well as about the case.  Party sources said these people may also be felicitated on stage at the culmination rally of Advani's yatra on Sunday. Meanwhile, Congress on Friday dismissed BJP's demand for apology from the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson in the cash-for vote scam, saying the party should place the facts before the court instead of doing politics through media. The ruling party reminded the BJP that it was LK Advani's close aide, Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was an accused in the case.

"A very close confidante of LK Advani got bail in the case yesterday," party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.
He was reacting to BJP chief Nitin Gadkari's remarks that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi should 'apologise' for their 'political conspiracy' under which BJP 'whistleblowers' were jailed in the cash-for-vote scam.

"The case is pending before court. Law will take its own course. Who is responsible or not responsible will be decided by the court," Alvi said. Asked about Kulkarni's comment that the whole truth has not come out as yet and the ultimate beneficiary is the government, Alvi said, "Kulkarni or BJP should place facts before the court rather than doing politics through media." His remarks also came on a day when Advani said in Haridwar, "It is not the question of bail only; we will take the cash-for-vote scam to its logical conclusion."

Closing ranks
Sudheendra Kulkarni may also take membership of the BJP in the near future, something which Gadkari is said to be keen on. When the sting operation was conducted on the eve of the July 2008 Trust Vote in Lok Sabha, some sections of the BJP were not in favour of the exercise. Party leader Jaswant Singh has openly said that he had met Advani prior to the sting and asked him to drop the idea.

However, when these 'whistleblowers' were arrested during the last monsoon session of parliament, Advani said in the Lower House that if they are guilty, he too is guilty as he was aware of the sting operation. Advani maintained that he too should be sent to jail.

Later, Advani announced that he will take out a yatra against corruption and for good governance and clean politics. He said the inspiration for the yatra came from the arrest of the whistleblowers.

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