The Pujari of Delhi is Back
Prem Chand Sahajwala | 08 Apr 2008

It focusses on the politics of Delhi and the comeback of Madan Lal Khurana in the politics of Delhi.

??????>?? CE????B???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????q` ???.bjbjqPqP .H::?&%???????NNNNNNNb???8?L b??. . "P P P P P P 5777777$lh?>[NoP P oo[NNP P p???odNP NP 5?o5??NN?P " ???}s??????5?0??????N?TP ? D?Z ^ P P P [[idP P P ?oooobbbD??bbb?bbbNNNNNN???? The ?Pujari? of Delhi is Back By Prem Chand Sahajwala Some years ago, the walls of Delhi were covered with a poster reading ? ?Delhi is a temple, its entire people are gods and goddesses, and Madan Lal Khurana is its ?Pujari? (priest)?. Khurana had till then been the most dynamic leader of the BJP in Delhi who also had the honour of becoming the first Chief Minister (CM) of Delhi after the passage of the National Capital Territory Act (NCT) on 4 Feb. 1992 (After independence he was the third CM). It could be said at the time that there is no problem related to Delhi which he is unaware of and that there was not an inch of Delhi which he could not recognise when going on a round even alone. But things suddenly changed at a rapid pace when in the year 1996, under the then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao, several leaders of Congress, BJP and other parties including Khurana were caught in the shadow of the infamous 65-crore ?Jain Hawala Scam?. Khurana stepped down as CM and Sahib Singh Varma, a Jat leader replaced him. He was subsequently replaced by Sushma Swaraj in the last leg of BJP?s five year term in power, and when the party was passing through tragic crises of electricity shortage and high onion prices. Khurana was exonerated on 15 May 1997 by the Special Judge VB Gupta of the designated Hawala Court in Delhi from the charge of accepting Rs. 3 lakhs from Jain brothers and ordering as CM the extension of street lights to the farm house of the Jains in Mehrauli at the cost of Rs. 37,065. This was followed by garlanding of Khurana by jubilant workers outside the courtroom. But as Khurana wanted to address the gathering crowd, the advocates suggested to him to address the people outside the court. An equally jubilant Khurana then addressed the crowd from a makeshift stage outside the court. There was also some music play by the workers. But all his rejoicement was over within no time when in spite of this exoneration, he was not reinstated as CM. The hurt that he felt was so serious that at one stage a rumor that Khurana was untraceable. He suddenly appeared however on a TV channel as if the media located a missing former CM. He looked much depressed in the interview on the TV channel and said in answer to a question that he was not convinced over the party?s selection of CM and other decisions regarding Delhi. He diverted attention from himself by saying that he was promised later that some other leader would take over as CM but Sahib Singh Varma was still continuing instead. Indeed Sahib Singh Varma was the misplaced choice of Vajpayee on his personal view that choosing a Jat leader as CM would draw the Jat voters from two other states UP and Haryana also to the BJP kit. This did not work in reality and Sahib Singh Varma simply proved to be unimpressive. At times he would do the publicity stunts by traveling on the back seat of a two wheeler and proceed to traffic police to pay a fine of Rs. 200 for traveling without a helmet. Khurana enjoyed proximity to Vajpayee who became PM after the 1998 Lok Sabha elections and Khurana later found himself in Vajpayee?s cabinet. But Khurana?s destabilization from Delhi was complete when in the November 2003 Delhi Assembly elections, the Congress repeated its victory and in spite of winning election as MLA from the Moti Nagar Assembly constituency, Khurana proceeded to Rajasthan as its Governor on 14 Jan 2004. The Delhiites then confronted another poster questioning Khurana?s claim of being the ?Pujari? of the temple of Delhi. Khurana?s activist nature however prevented him from remaining in a titular position as Governor and his relationship with Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia soured. On the Republic Day of 2004, Vasundhara Raje did not report at the Governor?s office as per convention and Khurana took exception to the same. But the CM, in a gesture of self-confidence and self-righteousness appeared on TV channels and challenged the curious TV crews themselves to show whether any clause of the constitution made it mandatory on a CM to report at the Governor?s office on a Republic Day function. Khurana spoke out of turn on many occasions and Vasundhara Raje did not react lightly to it. He ultimately resigned from the governorship on 28 Oct. 2004 during the Manmohan Singh led UPA government which came to power after the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Khurana was expelled from the party on 20 Aug 2005 for speaking foul against the party; was taken back on 12 Sep 2005 after Vajpayee?s intervention but the former had developed acrimony with the self-styled BJP president LK Advani who ultimately showed him the way out on 19 Mar. 2006. Khurana?s anti-BJP speak then went to the extent of blaming sex scandals on his party colleagues like Dr. Harshvardhan at whom he pointed fingers even over the pregnancy of some stenographer employee of the Delhi Government. Like the Congress, the BJP too has been confronted with many a dissident, the most significant of them being Shankar Singh Vaghela who is currently a minister in the Manmohan Singh?s cabinet at the centre. Except for BJP?s Vaghela and late PR Kumaramangalam of Congress, who once brazenly said about PV Narasimha Rao?s government at centre that if the government fell, what could be done, not many of the recent deserters of both parties found success. They have faced humiliations in one way or the other. Today Mamta Bannerji may boast of continuously sticking to the NDA but the leader whom prominent journalist Veer Sanghvi once called a hysterical fool in one of his columns , wanted to fight the last West Bengal elections with the Congress. She had recognized her worth as a failed, one person show of her party. The Left Front had then warned the Congress against hobnobbing with Mamta Bannerji as the total percentage of the Congress and Mamta?s Trinamool Congress was 43% in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, while the Left?s own score was 40%. Despite a record 25 day hunger strike in Singur, Mamta seems to have no future in the political system after abandoning a national party. Another maverick Sanyasin leader Uma Bharati created scenes in a meeting of the BJP and walked out with her lunatic outbursts against the party leadership. With a leader of integrity like Vajpayee on the stage, there could not have been more humiliating a scene for the party whose managers instantly told the TV crews to switch off their cameras in order to save further embarrassment. But Uma is even more isolated than Mamta in the political system. Uma Bharati?s new party the ?Bharatiya Jan Shakthi? has proved to be a fiasco but interestingly Madan Lal Khurana too joined her party in the days of extreme isolation. He later came out of it unceremoniously after accusing Uma Bharati of ignoring his most important work, that of developing Delhi. The dissidents in fact face lack of support from the people of India who are fed up with a large number of parties and coalition governments formed by many parties which at times have opposing ideologies as also some hardcore mutual enemies. The repeated falls of governments at centre or states have created a craze among people for a two party system while about ten years ago a journal had reported the number of parties registered in India?s Election Commission as 632, an embarrassing one! A foreigner once rightly commented that India means too much of democracy! Khurana could not muster strength enough to stand alone on his feet. After coming back from Rajasthan he took on the Delhi CM Sheila Dixit in somewhat a strange way. The Delhi walls were suddenly covered with a poster alleging the biggest post-independence scam of Rs. 100 crore in electricity sector by the Sheila Dixit?s government. The un-authenticity of the charge was evident from the fact that no BJP leader at the national level had echoed his charge. In a media arranged open confrontation between Khurana and Sheila Dixit organized at Delhi?s India Habitat Centre, Khurana had to eat a humble pie when Sheila Dixit challenged him that such a scam did not require to be brought to light merely through posters. Why has he not yet proceeded legally against the scam with sufficient evidence in the matter? Sheila Dixit?s ready wits indeed made Khurana a laughing stock before the large crowds which were watching the debate either inside the auditorium or on screens installed outside in the lawns of the centre. In a mirage like state of mind, Khurana kept celebrating his birth day in the vicinity of his residence in Kirti Nagar New Delhi, with the usual fanfare but the number of his workers dwindled gradually. In his fiefdom around his residence , he kept displaying posters regularly regarding his concerns for Delhi. Some of them basted that he was being approached by innumerable Delhiites who were clamoring for his comeback to save Delhi. But all this did not deliver goods for him and he continued to feel like a pariah. Around the Holi festival of 2007, a self-isolated Khurana suddenly reached opposition leader LK Advani?s residence uninvited while the latter was not present at his residence. Khurana came back after receiving normal hospitality from LK Advani?s family but Advani later called him on phone. Khurana informed him that there were several issues related to Delhi which deserved discussion between them. Advani shrewdly advised Khurana to contact Rajnath Singh, the then BJP president for any such matters. Today Khurana is back in the party fold after playing a political pariah; has regretted all his foul speaking and anti-party uttering. But the million dollar question is whether the gods and goddesses of Delhi will accept this once turned out ?Pujari? again? Has the Pujari any new shlokas (hymns) to appease the gods and goddesses in the much changed scenario of the National Capital Territory?     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