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How Kirti Azad’s Tirade Against Jaitley Has Its Roots In Bihar

Azad’s angst against Jaitley runs much deeper than the DDCA crisis, maintain sources, and point to a clear Bihar factor as the root-cause. Azad never ever forgot the treatment that was meted out to him by Jaitley vis-a-vis Darbhanga seat in 2009

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As if the attack from the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party were not enough, even Kirti Azad, the BJP lawmaker and MP from Dharbanga, has gone on the offensive in the DDCA scam, indirectly holding Union Finance Minister and senior BJP leader, Arun Jaitley, responsible in the matter.

Azad raised the matter twice in the Lok Sabha on Monday (21 December) even as the Opposition members led by the Congress were there on their feet in the matter.

Earlier, the BJP MP dared the top BJP leader – who along with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah – enjoys a near-total control over the party apparatus -- to file a defamation case against him, as Jaitley filed a defamation suit against the Aam Aadmi Party leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal.

Those following the DDCA “scam” would know that Kirti Azad has had a running feud with Jaitley over the issue. But what is important is that this is not for the first time that Azad has upped the ante against Jaitley – even going against the diktat of BJP chief Amit Shah.

During the last Parliament session, when senior BJP leader and Union Minister Sushma Swaraj was targeted by the Congress for perceived favours to Lalit Modi, Azad had sprung to Swaraj’s defence, saying that the controversy was fuelled by “aasteen ke saamp” (“saboteurs within”). The indirect reference was to Jaitley who counts Swaraj, among others, as rivals in the party.

But Swaraj alone is not Jaitley’s rival in the party.

Those following the BJP know that Jaitley has had a long-standing rivalry against former BJP President Rajnath Singh -- through the entire period when Rajnath was the party president, and later when Nitin Gadkari held the position.

Azad counts Rajnath Singh among his benefactors and is also known to enjoy excellent relations with leaders like Sushma Swaraj and L K Advani. He is also on cordial terms with the habitual offender in the party – Shatrughan Sinha.

Azad’s angst against Jaitley runs much deeper than the DDCA crisis, maintain sources, and point to a clear Bihar factor as the root-cause.

Sources say that when the BJP was in alliance partner with the JD (U) in Bihar, Jaitley was particularly known for his excellent relations with Nitish Kumar. Those were the days when deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi was known as Nitish’s “yes man”. There was a small-time leader, Sanjay Jha, a JNU alumnus, was equally close to Jaitley and Nitish. Jha had persuaded Jaitley to field him from the Darbhanga parliamentary seat, held by Azad.

Azad was outraged by any suggestion to this effect, and his camp – then known as the Rajnath Camp – hit out at the Jaitley camp against his bid to hijack the party in Bihar. This happened way back in 2009.

Azad ultimately may have got to keep the Darbhanga seat but never ever forgot the treatment that was meted out to him by Jaitley. This angst was played out on various occasions, including in the present DDCA case.

What is significant that while Modi government ministers like M Venkaiah Naidu, Smriti Irani, Nirmala Sitharaman, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Rajyavardhan Rathore have spoken out supporting Jaitley, Rajnath and Sushma, counted among Modi’s top ministers, have kept a studied silence.

Clearly, while Jaitley is facing a crisis of sorts on his home turf, there are other big guns in his party who are watching in glee.