M A I N   N E W S

Arif joins BJP
D.P. Yadav shown the door
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
Former Union Minister Arif Mohammed Khan, who had quit the Congress over the Shah Bano case in the mid-80s, and Lakshman Singh, younger brother of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, today joined the BJP.

In another development the BJP annulled the Rajya Sabha membership of Mr D.P. Yadav given to him barely four days back.

The decision to sacrifice Mr Yadav came sooner than expected as the party bigwigs were apprehensive that this decision could have a serious dent on the BJP’s image on the eve of the crucial elections and could eclipse the party’s main poll plank — “feel good factor”.

The hasty retreat of the BJP comes after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee directly intervened and expressed his displeasure over the “not well thought out but politically motivated decision” of the party.

Announcing the withdrawal of membership to Mr Yadav, BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu said a decision to this effect was taken after he had discussed the issue with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.

He admitted that the decision was taken to see that no adverse remarks are made against the party on the eve of polls.

Mr Naidu hastened to add that in the wake of sharp criticism from the media Mr Yadav himself called him up to say that he would like to opt out if the party was getting a bad name because of his induction.

However, Mr Yadav told newspersons that he was ‘sacrificed’ by the BJP under the ‘orchestrated pressure from some quarters. He also demanded that there should be a public debate on admission into political parties.

Joining the BJP in the presence of party president Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, Mr Arif Mohammed Khan told newspersons that he wanted to build goodwill with the Sangh parivar and alongwith it and BJP he would “be able to work towards communal harmony.”

Mr Khan, who was recently with the BSP, supported Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s stand that the Ayodhya issue should be resolved either through court verdict or through dialogue among the concerned communities and said he was ready to join efforts to resolve the vexed issue.

Mr Khan, who joined the BJP despite Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s effort to dissuade him, maintained that he was not interested in electoral politics “which is not high on my political agenda.”

Lakshman Singh, a Congress member in the dissolved Lok Sabha, said “I have not come with any conditions. I left the Congress as I felt that the party’s alliance with the DMK was not proper.

“Having accused that party of being responsible for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress had pulled down the United Front Government of which DMK was a member on this ground.” He said in view of these developments, he did not find it proper to remain in the Congress.

Rameshwar Singh, National President of Lok Dal (Charan Singh), Ilyas Khan, former General Secretary of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee and Humayun Ansari, National President of All India Momin Conference also joined the BJP today.

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