MADRID’s conservative regional premier has accused the leader of her own party of plotting to destroy her in a bitter row at the top of Spain’s Popular Party (PP).
Isabel Diaz Ayuso has accused PP leader Pablo Casado of waging a smear campaign in a long-simmering power struggle that spectacularly erupted this week.
The President of the Madrid, whose popularity soared during the pandemic with her opposition to government restrictions and determination to keep businesses open, is now under investigation over allegations of corruption.
At the centre of the investigation are claims that Ayuso’s regional administration acted illegally in awarding a €1.5 million contract to an acquaintance of her brother to provide face masks.
While Ayuso vehemently denies any wrongdoing in awarding the contract, the row deepened amid reports that the senior figures within the PP had hired private detectives to spy on her.
On Thursday, Ayuso lashed out at Popular Party leader Pablo Casado, accusing him of being behind a smear campaign to discredit her.
“It is very painful when leaders of your party, instead of supporting you, are the ones who want to destroy you,” Ayuso told the media in a statement on Thursday.
“Although political life is full of unpleasantness, I never imagined that the leadership of my party would act in such a cruel and unfair way against me,” she said.
“There’s nothing more serious than accusing one of your own, with government responsibilities, of corruption and doing so without proof, putting my family in the middle,” she said.
The matter has blown open a rift between the two public faces of the PP amid rumours that Ayuso was plotting to make a leadership bid for the party.
In response to Ayuso’s accusations against Casado, the party General Secretary Teodoro Garcia Egea jumped in to defend Casado and threaten disciplinary action against Ayuso.
“This party will not tolerate any attack on its honour… and that the leadership that has given it everything is attacked in such a cruel and unjust way,” García Egea said.
The spat comes at a time when the PP is struggling with its identity and in the wake of the party’s disappointing election result in Castilla y Leon.
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