A week after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's demise, his niece and Congress leader Karuna Shukla has accused the Modi government and the Chhattisgarh BJP of politicising his death with an eye on the upcoming elections in state and Lok Sabha.
In an interview with CNN-News18, Shukla questioned the BJP's move to launch schemes and name places after the former prime minister. "Atal ji was above party lines; he was a leader of the country. I'm mainly upset because Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been in power at the Centre for the last four-and-a-half years, and Chief Minister Raman Singh has been in power in Chhattisgarh for the last 15 years. In the past four-and-a-half years, how did Singh, Modi, and their respective Cabinets not think about Atal ji?
"He had served as the prime minister and had been conferred a Bharat Ratna. There was no pressure then and they could've named schemes after him during this time without drawing any flak. I am well versed with their moves and diplomacy. I am upset and saddened because of this," she said.
Shukla further said, "As far as Raman and the Chhattisgarh BJP are concerned, they are selfish, and play power politics. By politicising Atal ji's death, they want to win the 2018 Assembly polls. But the public knows about their politics."
#EXCLUSIVE on CNN-News18 | If PM @narendramodi and BJP President @AmitShah can walk for 5 kilometres alongside #AtalBihariVajpayee’s casket, I request them to tread on his principles as well, says the former PM’s niece Karuna Shukla. #RIPVajpayee pic.twitter.com/Udh68x1gro
— News18 (@CNNnews18) August 23, 2018
On Tuesday, the Chhattisgarh government decided to name Naya Raipur, the upcoming capital city of the state, as 'Atal Nagar' in Vajpayee's memory. During a cabinet meeting chaired by Singh, it also decided to name several other government institutions and projects after Vajpayee.
All state unit heads of the BJP have been assigned to carry out 'Asthi Kalash Yatra' in their respsective states to immerse the ashes in holy rivers. In a tweet, Amit Shah said that party decided to take out the yatra, so that all the citizens could offer their tributes to the popular leader.
Responding to Shukla's remarks, BJP national secretary RP Singh said that Vajpayee was the leader of the entire country and his niece was reacting because "she is not getting what she is looking for".
Shukla ended her 32-year-long association with BJP in 2014.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Aug 23, 2018 17:25 PM