Kailash Vijayvargiya’s son, Akash, was arrested for beating up a municipal corporation officer on duty.
The Bharatiya Janata Party seems hesitant to take any further action against Akash Vijayvargiya, Indore MLA and son of senior party leader, Kailash Vijayvargiya, as the party feels that the public admonishment of both Akash and Vijayvargiya by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in front of the whole party is a “big” enough action.
On 2 July, while addressing a BJP parliamentary meeting, Modi, without taking the name of Akash and Kailash Vijayvargiya, had said, “Whoever it may be, whoever’s son he may be…such arrogance, misbehaviour cannot be tolerated”, adding that action should be taken against those who indulge in such a conduct. The next day, the party had sent him a notice, seeking Akash Vijayvargiya’s response within 15 days.
This had come after Akash Vijayvargiya was arrested by Madhya Pradesh police on 26 June for beating up a municipal corporation officer with a bat while the latter was doing his duty. Akash was later given bail; following his release from jail, his supporters fired celebratory gunshots in the air with Akash stating that he was not apologetic about his action.
According to senior party leaders, PM Modi’s statement on the issue, which he gave in front of all the MPs, including those who have won for the first time, has come as a major embarrassment for Kailash Vijayvargiya.
A senior BJP leader said: “Everyone thought that given the ‘stature’ of Kailash Vijayvargiya, his son’s action and his own conduct with the media later on (Kailash Vijayvargiya had rebuked a TV journalist asking ‘what his stature was’ to put questions to Kailash Vijayvargiya after the TV journalist had sought his reaction on his son’s action), the entire incident will be ignored by the PM. However, PM Modi admonished this shameful conduct in front of every party functionary and MPs. This is a big action in itself. When the PM was speaking on this incident, Kailash Vijayvargiya was sitting in the front row. No leader is bigger than the party in the BJP’s scheme of things, including Kailash Vijayvargiya; this principle has been proved time and again.”
Responding to this newspaper’s queries on why state leaders were not speaking on the issue, another Madhya Pradesh-based senior leader said that the state leaders were avoiding comment on the issue out of “respect” for Vijayvargiya senior.
“Numerous media organisations came to me, seeking the party’s response on the matter; I politely refused as Kailash is an old friend. It is true that his and his son’s conduct has led to negative opinion being formed about the party. It is also true that given his success in Haryana and West Bengal, he was going through a very purple patch which could have led to a certain level of arrogance creeping into his son and his supporters,” he said.
On Thursday, responding to a notice given by the disciplinary committee of the party, Akash Vijayvargiya sent a one-line apology to the state leadership, stating that he was sorry about his conduct and would not repeat the same in the future. Incidentally, this “notice” too was given seven days after the hooliganism and that too after Modi rebuked the father-son duo, without taking their names, in the parliamentary meet on 2 July.
“As of now, whoever is active in BJP in Madhya Pradesh and sees a future in the party, won’t openly speak against Kailashji as he is very influential. It is only someone like Modi and Sumitra Mahajan who can speak against him, as they did,” the leader added.
A first time MP from Madhya Pradesh told The Sunday Guardian that PM Modi’s public reprimand of Vijayvargiya was “unexpected given the tall stature of Kailashji”.
On Wednesday, former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted that the young MLA’s behaviour was wrong. Speaking to the media in Indore, Mahajan, who for decades has a political rivalry with Vijayvargiya senior, said “his” (Akash’s) behaviour was wrong. No one could justify such an act, said the veteran leader. “We have to call out what is wrong,” said Sumitra Mahajan.
On Thursday, stoking the political flames around the incident, former MP Chief Minister and senior Congress leader, Digvijaya Singh, wrote a three-page letter that he sent to PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and working party president J.P. Nadda, questioning the party’s failure to act against Aakash Vijayvargiya and other BJP leaders who had supported him, despite the PM calling for taking action against him.