Just a few weeks back everything was picture-perfect for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Though India’s main opposition party has been a pariah among the secular parties because of their communal ideology, it got wider acceptance as a reliable opposition that could fight the ruling front mired in neck-deep corruption allegations.
With general election fast approaching, the party was getting ready with their knights and rooks in the corners. It even tried to woo and take sides with anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal and his India against Corruption (IAC) movement. But dashing all the hopes of BJP, Kejriwal who has targeted the ruling front at Centre, exposed party chief Nitin Gadkari’s bogus companies and how he amassed wealth of inappropriate proportion.
While the party was struggling to get over from corruption charges, Gadkari was caught in a bigger controversy for drawing an unholy comparison between Swami Vivekananda and don Dawood Ibrahim. Later he disowned his statement blaming it on media, but finally had to offer a regret to save him as well as party’s image.
But Kejriwal who dashed BJP’s dreams about finding in him an ally in the fight against Congress proved how equally corrupt the country’s leading opposition too is.
BJP leadership in a vain effort managed to stop Kejriwal’s troop of Trojan horses by making a daring call to Congress-led central government to prove charges against their party president. Though some dissident voices were heard from here and there within the party, with the support of senior leader like LK Advani, BJP silenced clamour call for Gadkari’s exit.
But fate has stored something else for Gadkari. This time he digged his grave for drawing an unholy comparison between much-revered seer Swami Vivekananda and mafia don-in-the run Dawood Ibrahim at a award distribution function in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Senior party leader and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani and his son had already raised their objection to him being at the helm of the party for a second term and demanded resignation over graft charges.
Drawing a silly comparison, but unfortunate comment from a politician of his stature, he re-ignited the fire that the party has doused following Kejriwal’s corruption charges. Now only one option was left for Gadkari. Just to quit party leadership and save his face as well as the party.
But that too will be suicidal for the saffron party in its stronghold poll-bound state of Gujarat where its star campaigner and Chief Minister Narendra Modi was fighting severe criticism for his anti-woman hoopla.
If Gadkari found brains of the seer and don similar, Modi’s take was “million-rupee girlfriend-wife” of former UN under secretary and union Human Resources Minister Shashi Tharoor.
Gujarat CM’s jibe came at an election rally in Himachal Pradesh, the result of which was expected along with the outcome of Gujarat election on Dec. 20. Elections will take place in Gujarat on Dec. 13 and 17.
Interestingly, both Gadkari and Modi were considered as pets of radical and dangerously communal Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS). Though RSS from time to time clarifies that they are not stipulating the norms of BJP and keep a safe distance from it, it is a open secret that both parties function on same lines, ideologically and strategically.
When the chief opposition in mired in such cheap controversies over top leaders’ avoidable remarks, Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi has got a breather and is having a big laugh. With left parties not anywhere in the scene, once again it was proved voters have no other way, but to take shelter under the party, irrespective of its inadequacies and shortcomings.
The reality, the over one billion nation, is left without a strong opposition, which could easily put a break on tainted United Progressive Alliance government.
It is no wonder that the BJP, a party with a communal agenda, has come to the forefront of Indian politics. Let it be blamed on lethargic Leftists who went astray from common man. The party which has done “historic blunder” by pulling down the UPA-1 government was busy rejuvenating itself, when common man was being choked and crushed by rising prices and inability to make both ends meet. The only action from the once-reliable opposition was shutdowns across the nation expressing solidarity with the masses.
If a calculated, well-framed groundwork helped BJP to make a breakthrough in southern states like Karnataka and Kerala, that was shaken by controversies and allegations of corruptions rose against its chief. With Gujarat election a few weeks away, and Congress getting ready to infuse fresh and young blood to it, BJP was left with little time to come out clean.
Gadkari’s resignation, which is unlikely before Gujarat polls, will be a momentary relief, but not a panacea. Now it has to sweat a lot to prove it is not in the lines of Congress and free from the clutches of nepotism and corruption. With lethargic leftists, Congress party is sure to have the biggest laugh in the contemporary political scenario. Boosted by rift within main opponent, it is not difficult to see Congress eyeing lion’s share in upcoming general election. Just keep fingers crossed.
(The Gulf Today: Nov 8)