The BJP today suspended former cricketer-turned-MP Kirti Azad for anti-party activities. Mr Azad was not present in the meeting though he did attend Parliament. The Darbhanga MP Azad is the son of former Bihar Chief Minister Bhagwat Jha ‘Azad’. Azad was part of the Indian team which won the Prudential World Cup in 1983.
Azad had been baiting Finance Minister Arun Jaitle over the latter’s role in the corruption at the Delhi and District Cricket Association involving tenders issued to fake firms. Azad had not heeded party chief Amit Shah’s warning to pipe down on the fusillade against Jaitley.
The Aam Aadmi Party had leveled the same charges against Jaitley as well following which the finance minister had filed a defamation suit of Rs 10 crore against six people including Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. Azad had again ridiculed Jaitley for not naming him in the defamation suit.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended Mr Jaitley at a weekly meeting of BJP lawmakers.
Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told TV channel that PM Modi said Mr Jaitley would come out “with flying colours” in the cricket controversy much like BJP veteran LK Advani had emerged unscathed from Hawala charges in the 1990s.
“No one has any doubt about his honesty and integrity. The allegations against him are baseless,” PM Modi said.
On Monday, BJP chief Amit Shah also broke his silence, defending Mr Jaitley and accusing the AAP government in Delhi of running a malicious campaign against the minister.
Mr Shah did not comment on Mr Azad. The leadership’s silence till Monday evening had raised eyebrows, especially after Mr Azad defiantly held a press conference on Sunday despite being warned by Mr Shah against it.