Stupid BJP, Pathetic Members?
Stupidity is by no means monopolised by the Congress. The BJP is an even stronger claimant. Consider its current crisis. BJP President Mr Nitin Gadkari was subjected to a sustained campaign in the media and among political parties alleging corruption. There grew increased speculation about his continuance in office. Eventually the silent murmurs within the BJP exploded into a public display of rebellious criticism. BJP Rajya Sabha MP Mr Ram Jethmalani publicly demanded that Mr Gadkari should demit the office of BJP President and face a credible inquiry into the charges leveled against him.
This was followed by Mr Mahesh Jethmalani resigning from the BJP national executive in protest against his continuance as the party chief. His letter of resignation reportedly reached the media even before it reached Mr Gadkari’s office. This was followed by Mr Ram Jethmalani releasing his letter to Mr LK Advani dated November 2nd. That letter too found its way in the media. In that letter Mr Jethmalani claimed that he was writing on behalf of other senior BJP leaders including Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Yashwant Sinha and Mr Shatrughan Sinha who also resented Mr Gadkari continuing in office. Mr Jethmalani wrote: “All four of us met last night to consider whether we should bid goodbye to the party.” These sentiments were repeated over TV channels by Mr Jethmalani in even stronger terms. He told TV: “Gadkari’s continuance in office will damage BJP. Only a fool will deny this.” He said that it was in Mr Gadkari’s interest to demit office till his name was cleared. In that event he would emerge even taller.
Meanwhile there was frenetic activity within the party lapped up by the media. Mr Gadkari met Mr Jaitley and Mrs. Swaraj separately; Mr Sinha and Mr Singh met Mr Jethmalani, Mr Gurumurthy met all the leaders, Mr Balbir Punj met Mr Advani and so on and so forth. Eventually a core meeting of the BJP was held to decide the issue. Mr Advani did not attend it. Was he merely sulking or was he hoping that his absence would facilitate his nomination as a stopgap president by the others? It was finally announced after all this that Mr Gadkari will continue in office till his term ends although speculation is that a second term for him has been ruled out. Can one imagine anything more stupid? If Mr Gadkari’s ouster was not settled why did the leaders go all out in the media?
The decision was taken under pressure of the RSS. It had nothing to do with principles, the party’s future or with public image but had everything to do with adjusting the balance of power within the feuding BJP leaders. The results of the Gujarat election are awaited. If Mr Narendra Modi wins big he will call the shots. Mr Jethmalani has publicly selected him as the party’s next prime ministerial candidate. A new BJP president appointed before the Gujarat election results would put in place a potential counterweight to serve Mr Modi’s rivals. Mr Jethmalani’s outbursts are perceived as support for Mr Modi. One should not be fooled by the wily ways of politicians. It is true that Mr Modi helped Mr Jethmalani become an MP for which reason he must support him. But it is equally true that Mr Gadkarii’s immediate removal would have greatly helped Mr Jethmalani’s old pal, Mr Advani, fill the breach. Mr Advani is by no means a great fan of Mr Modi. As president he would have been a formidable counterweight. And so the intrigues and conspiracies within the BJP continue to regale the public. But one would like to address a few basic questions.
After their publicly voiced disenchantment will Mr Jethmalani, Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Yashwant Sinha and Mr Shatrugan Sinha resign from the BJP? Mr Jethmalani has already stated that he would examine the legal implications of the documents upon which Mr Gurumurthy’s clean chit for Mr Gadkari is based. But that is irrelevant. Mr Jethmalani had earlier argued that even if Mr Gadkari was innocent democratic propriety demanded that he resign until his name is cleared. So, after going ballistic publicly on the issue does democratic propriety justify Mr Jethmalani continuing in the BJP? Does democratic propriety justify Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Yashwant Sinha and Mr Shatrughan Sinha continuing as BJP members? The three aforementioned leaders never publicly dissociated themselves from Mr Jethmalani’s written and spoken claims that he spoke for all of them.
If all these leaders quit the BJP it would amount to a split in the party. In a healthy democracy when there is incompatibility among leaders on fundamentals they should split from the party. Otherwise like Mr Advani they may sulk as a dissident which is the worst attitude any honourable politician should adopt. All four BJP leaders did not belong to the RSS. Mr Advani belonged to the RSS. For years he was the blue eyed darling of Nagpur. But currently the RSS frowns against his continued pre-eminence in the party. However a split in the party is justified only if a major issue divides its members. A major issue is indeed at the heart of the current BJP crisis.
The issue very simply is that an extra constitutional body taking final decisions of a political party impedes its effective functioning. If Number 10 Janpath has paralysed the functioning of the Congress, the RSS has paralysed the functioning of the BJP. RSS leaders repeatedly claim that they do not want to interfere in the affairs of the BJP. They do so because in every crisis the BJP turns to the RSS for guidance. So why the four BJP leaders opposed to Mr Gadkari cannot quit and form their own party which may endorse RSS activity in the social sphere but end its dominance over the political party?
Ah, there is a problem. To create their own party they would have to act as real leaders, reach out to the public and organise a cadre or workers and followers across the nation. They will not be allowed to operate as ten to five employees taking orders from the boss. The context for a new party could not be more propitious. There is widespread public disenchantment with the government and the opposition, and the emergence of a civil society ready to hit the streets. At the start of this article a question mark is put about whether the BJP members are pathetic. That was done because the leaders can redeem themselves if they carry their publicly voiced criticism to its logical conclusion and break away from the BJP to create a new national alternative. Otherwise their pathetic condition will worsen with time.
By Rajinder Puri
Comments are closed here.