Battle Lines Blurred Before Budget!
As the Budget session opens in Parliament political analysts will watch proceedings with uncommon interest. Not because of what Mr Pranab Mukherjee might read out in his budget speech. Interested eyes will be focused single mindedly on how leaders of the government and the opposition interact with each other while the drama regarding black money and corruption unfolds. As projected earlier in these columns evidence of cross party interaction has already become visible. And the divisions within the same parties have become equally visible.
The touching concern about feeling pain and removing it revealed in the correspondence between Mr LK Advani and Mrs Sonia Gandhi is too fresh in our minds to merit recall. Attention instead shifts to the curious standoff between the Prime Minister and the Home Minister who has deservedly earned the sobriquet of being the dynasty’s most ardent loyalist. During his recent press conference the PM said that the Finance Minister was informed and had cleared the decisions related to the 2G Spectrum licenses taken by the former Telecom Minister Mr A Raja. Home Minister Chidambaram was the Finance Minister when those decisions were taken. He had denied having approved Mr Raja’s mode of issuing licenses for the spectrum deal. So who is speaking the truth, Dr Manmohan Singh or Mr Chidambaram? Perhaps the Supreme Court might help clear the air.
Meanwhile Mr Advani’s prompt acceptance of Mrs Gandhi’s assertion about none of her family members or herself ever having a foreign bank account has not gone down well with some of the BJP members. Mr S Gurumurthy who headed the BJP’s task force to study and submit the report about black money stashed abroad has already rebutted Mr Advani’s retraction of the charge against Mrs Gandhi regarding her alleged foreign bank account. Mr Gurumurthy said that the task force stood firm on the findings of its report.
Also, younger elements of the BJP leadership are furious with Advani’s apology. But they dare not open their mouths. By BJP’s twisted notions blind obedience to the senior leader is synonymous with discipline. The leader can flout all party policies without being held accountable. This scribe personally learnt this a quarter century ago. It remains to be seen how much longer younger BJP leaders will put up with this state of affairs.
So where do we go from here? In the Budget session as the debate about black money abroad will inevitably rage, will the Congress and the BJP continue to crumble through infighting? Or could there be a realignment of forces cutting across party lines? Let’s hold our breaths and wait. There are winds of change sweeping across the world. Will MPs remain unaffected by the winds of change?
By Rajinder Puri