Coalgate Advani’s Gate To Power?
BJP’s PM aspirant LK Advani is secretly thrilled that on the Coalgate issue he has been able to get his writ to run: shut the two houses of Parliament down and do not back off till the Prime Minister resigns. He is hopeful that if the UPA government falls, he will have a window of opportunity to become the Prime Minister, a life-long ambition which has remained out of reach.
It is being said that in a badly divided BJP where every leader and sub-leader is playing according to his own rules and there are major differences over every issue, Advani is also secretly surprised at how the party leaders have fallen behind his hardline and are willing to play ball, knowing fully well that the more they push for Manmohan Singh’s resignation, the more the Congress will cling to him! Even though in happier circumstances the Congress would have been only too willing to jettison the Prime Minister.
It now transpires that BJP’s regional satraps as well as the BJP President are only too happy that there is no discussion on the coal block allocations since many of them are also beneficiaries of the coal allocations.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s letter to the Prime Minister opposing auction and pointing out the present policy is the best one, Madhya Pradesh Minister Kailash Vijayvargey’s letter to the PM, then Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh’s letter also opposing auction are all the talk of the town now. While Minister in the PMO Narayanswamy has said they will make the letters public once the discussion takes place, another senior minister in the government has said the government is looking at the beneficiaries of these coal block allocations and one name which has come to light is that of Sancheti, known to be extremely close to BJP President Gadkari.
It is clear now that while Advani is pushing the envelope, other power blocs in the BJP are happy to let him take the lead in so far as it stalls any discussion in parliament on coal.
Advani went to the extent of asking Shahnawaz and Rudy to go to Kolkata and accompany Mamata Banerjee back to Delhi to persuade her to ask for the Prime Minister’s resignation and instead back Advani for Prime Ministership. The discussion held at 35,000 feet in mid-air was probably disappointing for Advani with Mamata refusing to back the demand for the PM’s resignation. And since so far, there is no vacancy, she could hardly endorse Advani as PM. It is learnt that the BJP leaders also offered that if Advani is not acceptable, then Mamata Banerjee would be acceptable to them if she joins the NDA after jettisoning the UPA government.
Leaving aside the internal games being played by the BJP on coalgate, what is interesting is that the BJP today stands isolated in not wanting a discussion and instead pushing for disruption of the two houses, till the time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resigns from the government.
The JD(U), a key ally of the BJP in the NDA, has however pulled back and has made it clear that it wants a discussion and is not happy with the disruptions. Obviously, Nitish Kumar’s government has not been a beneficiary of the coal allocation.
Even though the then Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government also wrote to the Prime Minister opposing the auction route, the Left parties are saying they want a discussion and not the current disruption which has stalled Parliament, not allowing any work to take place.
Within the government, sources say no serious efforts are on to talk to opposition leaders, particularly the BJP. It was a task normally undertaken by the government’s chief troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee when he was the Leader of the Lok Sabha. Today, he is in Rashtrapati Bhawan and his successor Sushil Kumar Shinde does not appear to have made any effort to reach out to political parties.
An Eye On 2014 Lok Sabha Elections
As the elections to the Lok Sabha are drawing closer, the situation in the country is becoming fluid day-by-day. The Congress has won presidential election by getting the support of two rival groups—the socialists and the BSP. The situation came to such a pass that TMC had to fall in line with the Congress. With RSP and TDP on the Congress side, the tables were totally turned in favour of the Congress. The Congress which had lost Punjab, Goa and many more states was jubilant when18 members of Karnataka BJP also voted for the Congress.
The BJP is jubilant that the people are anti-Congress where Congress whip would not work. In Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, UP and MP the elections to the local self-government should be the way out for the Congress. The people are fed up with it because of its anti-people actions like unbridled, soaring prices and corruption. There is no issue which could give weight to the Congress. The tables of 2014 are in favour of Congress. JD(U) and Shiv Sena came to its side for the elections of the Vice President of India. However one feels that bi-party would be the order of the day. The BJP rose with the help of its own analysis in the working group which prepared a questionnaire and dispatched it to the public in general which included the senior and junior leaders, important functionaries, academicians, social organisations and sympathises. The efforts of the working group headed by LK Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Krishan Lal Sharma, KushabhauThakre, Kedar Nath Sahni, Madan Lal Khurana, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, MM Joshi, Gobindacharya, Shanta Kumar gave dividents to the party which changed its system and even policies. It helped it get power at the Centre. The government did excellent developmental works with two weaknesses—it did not take action against the Congress CM in Bhojalya case and the second when Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not agree to the proposal of becoming President and leaving the Prime Ministership to Advani or it could have otherwise.
BJP has a future, the Congress is in the soup. The BJP should not bother for alliance with other parties, they would come when BJP comes to power. Mayawati, Ram Vilas Paswan, TMC, AIADMK and many other parties were with the NDA. Even Chandra Babu Naidu had supported it. The BJP government in state should forcefully expose the wrong doings of the Congress and side by side work on the plank of development as Modi is doing. Nobody called Modi a communal person and everyone is praising him because of his development work. Whether it was about Tata’s Nano or it is Maruti now, whether it was Reliance of Mukesh or Anil, Modi got a good score from the people and the various governments. He did not care for his critics. He knows that Nitish’s opposition is because of his being a minority nominee. The old flock including Odisha BJD would come to NDA side, BJP should work as silently as Modi did.
In order to have a patch up with the fighting leaders, a group with Advani, Modi, Sushma and Jaitley, Gadkari and practical leaders like Sahni, Malhotra and Shanta should form a core group. The academicians and sympathers like Bhai Mahavir and the former Vice Chancellors and pro-Vice Chancellors and deans should be an additional help to this group which would prepare a questionnaire for analysis. The propaganda machinery should be geared up with Nirmala Sitaraman. My guess is that if it is done, a proper leader will emerge.
By Prof Ravindra Nath Pal
Other Ministers who used to help Pranab Mukherjee merely shrug their shoulders saying they are helpless and ask, “What should we do?” But unlike the 2G spectrum allocation scam where the government was both nervous and in panic, the coal allocation scam has evoked a different reaction within the government.
The general tone and tenor is that the CAG has over-reached itself and that its conclusions are erroneous to say the least. A large part of the media, particularly the print media has been pointing out fallacies in the CAG report and the many mistakes it has made.
Coupled with that is the involvement of top BJP leaders and its chief ministers and the large-scale games played in the allocations of coal blocks.
The government would like to use the clean and honest image of the Prime Minister to deflect criticism since at the time the coal portfolio was with Dr Manmohan Singh. The Prime Minister says he is ready for a debate and whenever the debate takes place he would intervene to put the record straight but for the moment both sides are waiting and watching to see who blinks first. The government has also interestingly, shown no urgency that it wants the two houses to run since no effort has been made to persuade the BJP to come to the negotiating table.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi is however upset at the ease with which the BJP puts the Congress-led government in the dock on a large number of issues. She is credited with the thinking that the BJP is much better at it than the Congress party. A combative and aggressive Sonia Gandhi made the point that the government was ready for a discussion as well as a JPC but the BJP was unwilling to listen and was being totally unreasonable.
Since the UPA came to power in 2004, the BJP has routinely not allowed the house to run. In the first few months, it would constantly stall Parliament, not allow ministers to be introduced, not allow the Prime Minister to speak, and so on.
Its has been nine years since then. At the time LK Advani used to call the shots in his party. The BJP was shell-shocked at having lost the 2004 general elections and found it difficult to tide over the defeat. And now nine years later, there has been a lot of water under the BJP bridge but LK Advani somehow is still calling the shots, with or without the support of a large section of the party. Some observers are calling it the “resurrection” of Advani but others see it as a matter of convenience for the power blocks in the party who are willing to let him lead from the front when it comes to taking on the government.
But the general sense is that by next week the BJP would cave in since the NDA allies are putting on the pressure at this unilateral decision of the BJP to stall the house. The allies are of the view that there should be a discussion, the Prime Minister must have his say after which the BJP can take a decision on how it wants to handle the issue. It remains to be seen if BJP goes along with that.
By Renu Mittal