Last night was a moment of vindication for me. The “I told you so” moment. Times Now finally understood the game that BJP was playing and brought out a story which essentially stated that the BJP’s points of view on the contentious issues of the Lokpal Bill were the exact same as the Congress’s views. Yet of course, the party was publicly taking the opposite view. Two of my posts – “Political momentum against Anna’s panel growing (June 14th)” and “What’s happening? Is media now changing sides (June 19th)?” – had already predicted all that Times Now was now talking about! Of course, Arnab’s new spin was that all politicians were bound to make the Lokpal Bill weak.....while my position is that not all politicians are bad and the present Congress dispensation headed by Sonia and Manmohan are actually fairly evenly balanced people. But then, Arnab is Arnab!
Times Now “exposed” some “off camera” reports they had from “senior” BJP leaders that the party thought that many of Anna’s points were unreasonable. As indeed they are. On the inclusion of the PM under the Lokpal, while the BJP has been saying that they support “Anna”, they have never clarified their position on this specific point. Do they support the PM’s inclusion? All that they would say is “We are anti corruption.....we support Anna’s and Ramdev’s movements”. When asked for specifics, they would say “Why should we give our views.....we were not included by the government in the drafting committee (as if this is ever done)” and later “we will give our views only in Parliament” and much later “Let the Congress give its view first....then we will react”. Why do they need to react? Why can’t they just state their views? Surely, they have been ceased of the matter for the last several months and they have had the chance to firm up their views?
But the point is that the BJP is like this only. They believe that politics is fought in TV studios and this is where they like to take high and lofty positions. The best BJP politicians are found in TV studios.....not on the ground. I wonder if Advani, Arun Jaitley, Ravishankar Prasad, Rudy ever go to their constituencies at all. And when it comes to putting your money where your mouth is, they change colors. On the one hand they had stated that in 2001, when they had introduced the Bill, they had (apparently) wanted to include the PM. So why can’t they just say so now? Why can’t they just say that yes the higher judiciary should be included in the Lokpal ambit? Why do they have to wait for the Congress to first say it? In reality, the Congress has already said it. Kapil Sibal has clarified the points of differences with Anna. The Congress believes the PM must not be included and the higher judiciary must not be included. Even the other differences are known. So does the BJP now has to “read the draft” before it can “start thinking of its views” or does it have enough to make a statement already?
The Left was willing to make its position clear. It says that “for the last twenty years”, they have maintained that the PM must be covered. That the higher judiciary shouldn’t be. It’s that simple. Just speak what you stand for. But if you are a party that believes in deceit and want to simply “ride” on a wave of angst against politicians (which you misread as being a wave against Congress), then you are bound to try and take advantage. Why give your views if you can avoid giving them? And if you have a friendly anchor in Arnab, then you won’t even be pushed too much. It’s the same with the Indo-US nuclear deal. They supported the deal privately, but they voted against it in Parliament only for political reasons. They are in favor of the GST, but they are opposing it now only because of political reasons. Politics is supreme. Country comes last. That’s BJP for you.
The other interesting thing about the BJP is that when the going gets tough, the big leaders vanish! So there was no Ravishankar Prasad, no Nirmala Sitaraman, no Arun Jaitley and no Sushma Swaraj to defend the party last night. All that was left to a lightweight Siddharth Nath Singh. Nice!
So if the political parties are uniting against the Anna recommendations, does it mean that “all politicians are bad people” or that “they are bound to protect themselves”? I think that’s a very cynical view. If we have convinced ourselves that that is true, then nothing will change our perspective. Yes, there are horrible politicians in all parties.....but there are many good people who work selflessly for the country. I am told that more than 70% of MPs have almost no wealth. They genuinely live with the masses. (The cynics will say that their wealth is benami!). So I am not willing to tarnish all politicians with black paint. Sitting outside, what right do we have to criticize those who sit inside? If we believe we are better than them, why can’t we just stand for elections....go through the rough and tumble.....understand how much funding is required and how legally its not permissible......so that we know for sure what politicians go through? Instead, we prefer to criticize. I for one don’t support many of Anna’s points.....and on some of those my views are similar to those of the politicians.....but I am not worried that I will be painted as a Congress stooge or a BJP stooge. I am comfortable with my intellect and I can make my views without help from anyone.
One has to remember that Anna’s views are extremely populist views. Anyone who stated those views would get support. On the face of it, why not include the judiciary and the PM? It seems like an obvious answer. But an intelligent person will be able to see what the ignorant masses cannot. For this person, it’s an uphill battle. How does he/she convince an entire battalion of people who understand only populism? Do they succumb? Or do they stand tall? Harish Salve chose to stand tall....and that’s one reason you don’t see him on Times Now much these days. BJP chose to succumb and decided to play along till they could....
Why did Arnab – an extremely intelligent anchor I might add – take so long to realize the real truth? I think it’s because deep down Arnab is an anti-Congress person. He believes (like many) that the Congress is responsible for all the graft that’s going around. I am not sure he is pro-BJP, but his anti-Congressim takes him to the BJP. It’s partly also because being pro-government hardly gets TRPs for your channel. Look at NDTV.....it’s pro-Congress and its languishing in TRPs. Imagine a soap on Star Plus which had happiness oozing through and through.....no one would watch it. There has to be a vamp somewhere! It’s the same with news channels these days.
The real truth is a mix of many things. Firstly, many of Anna’s recommendations are pure balderdash. They should be scrapped. Secondly, the BJP is a spineless party and does not have the guts to come out into the open with its views. It wants to play politics and appear to be on the side of Anna....while in reality, they don’t like his views. Thirdly, the BJP is secretly hoping that the Bill will be defeated in Parliament so that the government falls and they can get a chance earlier than in 2014. I don’t have a clear “real truth” answer to the last two questions: Is Anna a BJP stooge? I still think he is. Because he has never ever criticized the BJP in public....while he is quite liberal with criticizing the Congress. Is Arnab pro-BJP. Well, he claims he isn’t. He knows very well that in public life, it’s your behavior that talks louder than your words. I for one will wait and watch!