In a major embarrassment to the BJP, a senior party MLA and former Minister in Maharashtra has been “caught on tape” criticising the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ruing the lack of internal democracy within the party and revealing the influence of money power in securing positions.
The “sting operation” was carried out by some unidentified persons and was aired by local channels.
In the video, Kalbadevi MLA Raj Purohit is seen openly criticising Mr. Modi’s policies and questioning the style of functioning of the central leadership. “There is nothing called collective leadership. It is dhokha [cheating] … One who says that he will rule with collective leadership is a fraud,” Mr. Purohit says, admitting that Mr. Modi and party president Amit Shah are the two power centres.
The five-time MLA criticises Mr. Modi for alienating the Bania community, considered “BJP’s hardcore supporters”, with his claims on unearthing black money. “Half the nation’s economy runs on black money … I interact with the top businessmen. They say don’t interfere in every aspect. Let things proceed as they are,” Mr. Purohit says, referring to a “contradiction” in allowing businessmen to invest abroad, but asking them to produce PAN cards when they buy gold for more than Rs. 1 lakh.
He reveals the struggle within the BJP and the role of money power in securing power positions. He names BJP vice-president and MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a major builder, as commanding supreme influence within the party and even the RSS because of his money power.
Mr. Purohit hints at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s alleged links with the builder community. Mr. Lodha “spent crores during the election … with his money power he manages everybody,” Mr. Purohit says claiming that he is being denied a Ministerial berth due to Mr. Lodha’s clout. His proximity to the late Gopinath Munde is also a reason for him being sidelined, he says.
Not only have Mr. Purohit’s comments put the BJP government on the back foot but they also reveal the growing frustration within the senior ranks and fractures within the party.
Reacting to the sting, BJP Maharashtra president Raosaheb Danve said the party would draw a conclusion only after “checking the authenticity” of the tape. He would meet the leader personally and consult the party high command.
If the content of the video were to be found true, the party would act against the MLA, he said.
In the video, Mr. Purohit also calls Maharashtra Navanirmana Sena leader Raj Thackeray “bogus” and a “failure”. MNS workers did not take the comments well and vandalised Mr. Purohit’s office at Kalbadevi here.
Mr. Purohit says that had Mr. Munde been alive, he would have been a “kingmaker.”
“Would Mr. Fadnavis be CM or would Raj Purohit stay without a Ministry,” Mr. Purohit asks, lamenting that he had to endure a lot of injustice despite being a senior leader.