BJP laps up tainted BSP ex-ministers

New Delhi: After taking on Mayawati on NRHM irregularities, the BJP in a surprise move today inducted into the party UP Chief Minister`s former confidant Babu Singh Kushwaha, who is facing CBI inquiry in the scam. Badshah Singh, who was also expelled from the cabinet by Mayawati and has several pending criminal cases against him, was also inducted into the BJP ahead of the the February elections. A known party-hopper, who has been elected four times as MLA on a BJP ticket, Singh had joined BSP before the 2007 polls.

The move comes as a surprise as the BJP had been attacking Mayawati and Kushwaha, who was one of the most trusted leaders of the BSP supremo for over two decades but was sacked as Family Welfare Minister in April following the scam in National Rural Health Mission, over corruption charges. Kushwaha is facing a CBI inquiry in the NRHM scam in which two CMO`s were murdered while Deputy CMO Y S Sachan, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in their murders, was found dead in mysterious circumstances in jail.

Singh was the Labour Minister and was removed after UP Lokayukta served him a notice for allegedly committing financial irregularities. Faced with tough questions from the media on the corruption charges against Kushwaha and Singh, BJP tried to put up a brave face. "The UP Chief Minister is directly responsible for corruption in the state. There are no charges against Kushwaha. He has been made a scapegoat for face-saving by Mayawati," BJP state unit chief Surya Pratap Shahi said.

BJP Vice-President Vinay Katiyar, who has been instrumental in bringing Kushwaha into the party, defended the decision and sought to put all the blame on Mayawati. "What factory has Mayawati got that her wealth has increased manifold since she came to power. From where has she got this money," Katiyar said. He maintained that Mayawati sacked the ministers from her cabinet only after the assembly elections were announced.

"Till now she was enjoying the fruits of this corruption and is now sacking her ministers," Katiyar said. BJP insisted that only when the CBI questions Kushwaha in the NRHM and CMO murder cases will the latter explain his position. While Kushwaha is an MLC, Badshah Singh is an MLA from Hamirpur constituency of Bundelkhand region. Singh is said to have some influence in the region and may help BJP win some seats from the area which is otherwise a BSP strong-hold. BJP had earlier also inducted Daddan Mishra, who resigned last week as cabinet minister for Ayurveda medicine in Mayawati government. He has been given the BJP ticket from Bhinga constituency.

Avadesh Verma, who was Minister of state (independent charge) for OBC Affairs in Mayawati government but was later sacked for non-performance and denied a ticket, has also joined the BJP and will contest from Dadraul. Arun Yadav, a SP MLA at present, will contest on a BJP ticket from Jalalpur. Having declared its candidates for 143 seats in UP in the first list, BJP is now scouting for leaders who can contribute to increasing its tally.