Two tweets by leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj have created a buzz if not a storm in political circles looking for every whiff and detail to follow the goings-on in the major parties and their smaller allies. She has stuck her neck out and stated her views on a public forum about the BJP being associated directly or indirectly with controversial politicians.
Her tweets have raised eyebrows both in the cyberworld, though no one is willing to express their views on the issue in the party. While some of the twitterati, including actor-director Shekhar Kapoor, have lauded her principled politics and courage, others mocked and criticised Swaraj for going public with what should have been a matter of discussion inside the party.
Swaraj tweeted about the proposed merger of BSR Congress headed by B Sriramulu, former BJP minister in Karnataka and a confidante of controversial mining barons, the Reddy brothers of Bellary. She has said in her tweet that she has written to party president Rajnath Singh about this. She tweeted: "I am opposed to the BSR alliance or merger with BJP in Karnataka. I have conveyed to Shri Rajnath Singhji in writing that BJP must not permit this."
She was once very close to the Reddy brothers. This goes back to the time when the party pushed her to contest against Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the 1999 Lok Sabha election. She has since distanced herself from them.
The Karnataka scene is complicated. Many of the state BJP leaders believed the exit of BS Yeddyurappa led to the defeat of the party in the 2012 assembly elections. Yeddyurappa and the Reddy brothers were at loggerheads. Yeddyurappa had returned to the party with his experiment of wanting to go alone having failed. Similarly, the Reddy brothers have realised that despite their financial clout they do count for nothing if they do not belong to the BJP. They did not try to go with the Congress but the Congress kept them out. It seems that the BJP wants to gather the scattered fold and present a united face during the crucial Lok Sabha election in the lone southern state where the BJP is a force to reckon with. It is quite likely that Swaraj's objections will be overlooked because of the party's realpolitik compulsions.
Swaraj's views are less controversial than the fact that she chose to express herself on a public forum and not pressed her point at a party forum behind closed doors. It appears that Swaraj knew that she would be overruled unceremoniously and no one would know her conscientious objection.
The second tweet was about former Congress leader Dharmender Pal Sharma readying to join Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC). She tweeted: " I am strongly opposed to this. I have conveyed my views to Shri Kuldeep Bishnoi."
Twitter critics of Swaraj pointed out that she has no right to tell an ally who should be its member. BJP insiders claim that the BJP-HJC alliance in Haryana is a formidable one which combines the Jat-non-Jat, rural-urban elements in the state. The party implicitly would not want to ruffle feathers.
But Swaraj has a valid point. She does not want the BJP to be associated directly or indirectly with Venod Sharma, whose son Manu, was convicted in the murder of Jessica Lall and who is now serving a life term. Swaraj is keen that the BJP's sensitivity towards woman's issues should not be seen to be compromised.
While the party would take a decision based on electoral calculations, Swaraj's plain speak would only enhance the party's image of being a pro-women and anti-corruption party.