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BJP Seniors In Huddle As Party Confronts Kirti Azad Vs Arun Jaitley Battle

NEW DELHI:  The four BJP elders who had issued a lacerating critique of the party leadership after the Bihar elections last month, have gathered again this morning as the party grapples with the fallout of the Arun Jaitley vs Kirti Azad row.

LK Advani, Shanta Kumar and Yashwant Sinha met at Murli Manohar Joshi’s Delhi residence, from where the 80-plus group had issued its joint statement last month attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah over the party’s humiliating defeat in Bihar.

 The meeting comes a day after the BJP suspended its lawmaker from Bihar and former Test cricketer Kirti Azad for publicly targeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with allegations of corruption in the Delhi’s cricket body and District Cricket Association or DDCA, which Mr Jaitley headed for 13 years.

Kirti Azad, who has asked PM Modi to tell him “what my fault is,” has also said that the BJP’s margdarshak mandal, a five-member group of mentors, should look into his suspension.

Mr Advani and Mr Joshi are part of that committee, which was set up last year during a party revamp by Mr Shah in what was seen as a move to sideline the veterans, removing them from the all-powerful parliamentary board. The mandal has not met even once.

In its suspension notice yesterday, the BJP has accused Kirti Azad with colluding with Opposition parties, including the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, with the sole purpose of embarrassing the party and its office bearers.

Mr Azad has said he will respond to the party’s notice today and another BJP leader Subramanian Swamy would help him frame the reply.

The veteran’s meeting also comes amid speculation that more rebellious heads could roll, among them Shatrughan Sinha, who has described Mr Azad as a “hero.” It was the latest in a long list of transgressions that has included a scathing assessment on Twitter of why the BJP’s strategy in Bihar flopped.

Mr Sinha – who also warmly met and congratulated Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav after they defeated the BJP in Bihar –  was widely expected to be punished at that time. But the BJP had strategically chosen to play down the revolt of Mr Advani and group and so could also not act against Mr Sinha and several others who criticised the Bihar strategy.

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