Shibu Soren BJP’s Asset Or Liability?
Perhaps the ‘sleaze’ of a governor (Tiwari) and ‘tease’ of a Rathore (in the form of his unabashed smile) or ‘crease’ (Kotla ground) of an Arun Jaitley overshadowed the political ‘sleeping’ together of Shibu Soren and the BJP. The stink was, thankfully for the party, diluted by the general climate of filth. The party was halved by the electorate at the hustings in the plateau of Jharkhand but it was no shock at all. The whole party is going through the patch of ‘plateau’. The shock in fact was: the party pounced on the morsel of power like a raven. 10 Janapath must be laughing under sleeves at the loss of moral power that the BJP has sustained. According to the political pundits, Soren is going to be a festering ‘sore’ on the party for ever. The ‘generational change’ in the party has ushered in an age of unconscionable laissez faire.
The plateau (the slump) happens in the life of every party. But having patience, a plateau is often followed by a steep rise again but, to the chagrin of all and sundry, the party chose a suicidal route, that of plunging nethermost. BJP has done the unimaginable, albeit from behind the veneer of public good. Instead of facing the challenge of lifting the party up from the plateau, it plunged in the quagmire of infamy. For sure, BJP can boast that it appropriated the power without having mandate for it but it lost the power of moral indignation for ever. No votary of BJP being a party with a difference will countenance it. Picture the opposite. Had there been a pairing of the Congress and Shibu Soren, BJP would have howled like anything at the smile of Shibu Soren after his ascension to the top job just as the nation felt aghast at the brazen laughing-off on the legal system by Rathore.
The strangled voice of the Rajeev Pratap Rudy, the spokesperson of the party, can not hide the sense of outrage that this pairing in the plateau has given rise to. Of course, the feisty Rudy ate the humble pie but the distress was palpable on his face. This fatal flaw of the saffron is sure to burst at the seams sooner or later. A shocked party leader puts the outrage thus: No doubt, party needs to take a pragmatic view of things but not this way. When you take a high moral ground and ‘holier than thou posture’ once, it is not easy to descend from it. You can let go the moral trappings only slowly. But in Jhakhand the party has taken a kind of plunge, posterity of the party will never condone. It is double whammy for the party not only in Jharkhand but in the whole country: it first lost seats and then the sheen.
It is opined by the political pundits that the nemesis will catch up with the party very soon when it goes to the people for votes in Bihar assembly election. Bihar party leaders, who were very enthusiastic by the three-day conference of RSS in Rajgir not long ago, are feeling cheated. A state leader, who had fronted the dissident group in the state party before the parliamentary elections, said: “We feel kind of some one has, all of a sudden, sapped all our energy from us. How are we going to face the electorate. We are perhaps damned to play second fiddle to JD(U), which is eating into our vitals from within. Nitish is too formidable a force to be taken on by a morally demoralised lot as we have become after Jharkhand happened to us. We will have to pay for the Jharkhand sins”.
Turn over the pages of Party’s moral tirade against the devil it has supped with, just as an academic pursuit, for the dye has been cast for the party and there is no cleaning of it now. The party will not only have to rationalise the move in the given situation of a fractured mandate but also to do the errands of the ‘king’ by way of undoing his unholy image it had so assiduously created through years after UPA held the reins about five years ago.
Cut to UPA-I. NDA (read BJP) had created a ruckus when Manmohan Singh introduced his cabinet colleagues in the Parliament. It had made the 14th Parliament almost stand still rasing the bogey of Soren and branding him as a ‘criminal’ and ‘tainted.’ NDA went all the way to Rashtrapati Bhavan, manned at that time by none other than the redoubtable APJ Abdul Kalam to press for saving the democracy by ejecting the tainted Soren from the cabinet. Shibu Soren was conspicuous in that list of tainted ministers. When, in 2006, Shibu Soren was convicted by the court in a case relating to the murder of Shashi Nath Jha, once his personal secretary, who was said to have been privy to all his nefarious activities, LK Advani, had thundered saying, the black day was unprecedented in the history of Parliament. He had further said: We were hearing of the criminalisation of politics for long, but, thanks to Congress, we have glimpses of criminals in the cabinet itself. Advani had also spoken of irreparable damage done to the sanctity of politics by taking Soren in the cabinet. In the same year, the party in its resolution passed in its National Executive had torn Congress into smithereens on the issue of taking Soren and his likes in the cabinet. But due to one unholy step of the incumbent leadership, all those high sounding moral indignation lay in tatters now in the plateau of Jharkhand.
The crowning glory of this ‘great fall’ is that Nitin Gadkari, the party president and the scion of Nagpur, the seat of the august portals of the headquarters of RSS, the ideological mentor of the party, has taken upon himself to portray that very Soren as a ‘knight’ in shinning armor. At least he should have left this damage control exercise to some lesser mortal. The move, close on the heels of Gadkari’s ascension on the prized post, does not augur well for the party which is floundering in cross currents of uncertainty. A leader of the party, not wanting to be named, said: “In such a drift, the morality would have been the sheet anchor for the party. Can we compare now ourselves with Congress? There was a time when it was insinuated that BJP is no different from the Congress. Yes, the party has shown the ‘difference’ but we cannot be proud of this difference. We should bow our hand in shame. Forget 2006. Just before assembly elections in Jharkhand, we were baying for the blood of Koda and Soren. We wanted them in jail. We cried hoarse at CBI being hand in gloves with Soren. Now we have given him our back to ascend the throne. People are not so fool. Public sab samajhti hai.”
Congress must thank BJP, a party in a hurry, for sparing it of the ignominy of sharing ‘bed’ with Soren and handing it a handle to bludgeon its bugbear in the national politics. A section of the party is smarting under the ignominy heaped upon the party. The move has betrayed the desperation of the party leadership for the power. Cadres are askance agape on this volte face. After this they would watch with baited breath the culmination of the degeneration that has set in, in the party. Nitin Gadkari, popularly known as ‘highway man’ has taken a path too lowly for a president just for a feather in his cap at the earliest. He has given an Achilles heel to his detractors in the party.
By Babita Jha