Monday, September 12, 2011

Advani advised to avoid BJP ruled states in his yatra…..

Advani is going to find it really difficult to map out his yatra’s route. For starters, he should avoid all BJP ruled states as he is likely to get a hostile reception in many of them! Here’s a look at where all he can possibly go:

Start with Gujarat: Just like his 1990 Rath Yatra, he is most likely to start his yatra this time around also from Gujarat. The one most stable BJP state of Gujarat is also the state from where Advani has been elected MP several times. Gujarat is also one state where the BJP rules comfortably. But Gujarat’s fascination with Modi and the BJP is hardly for reasons of it being corruption free. Gujarat’s fascination with Modi is because of the hardline Hindutva image that he has cultivated and the generally good governance standards. The BJP government is Gujarat is hardly known for its tough stance on corruption. Till very recently, the state didn’t even have a Lok Ayukta. The Lok Ayukta Act was passed by the Congress government in 1986. It’s special provision that the Lok Ayukta would be appointed through consultations between the CJ of the Gujarat High Court and the Leader of the Opposition was specially drafted by the Congress and agreed to by the BJP. In fact, Suresh Mehta – the leader of the BJP in the state assembly at that time – had specifically argued in the assembly that the CM was being kept out of the process of selection of the Lok Ayukta in order to ensure independence of the Lok Ayukta. Why then is Modi so reluctant to have an independent Lok Ayukta in Gujarat? Why did he sit on the recommendation made by the CJ (of KR Vyas) in 2006 for three long years? Why did Modi disagree again with the name of SD Dave suggested by the CJ in Dec 2010? Why is he creating so much fuss about Justice JR Mehta who has now been chosen by the Governor? It’s a well known fact that there is rampant corruption in Gujarat. Everyone knows of the liquor corruption – liquor flows freely in the state with the politicians making money on the side. The roads in Ahmedabad break down as frequently during the rains as they do in Maharashtra. The recent case of deaths of children in a Junagadh public health center also smacks of poor governance and possibly corruption. Advani may get a welcome in Gujarat, but he may like to stay away from the subject of corruption!

Madhya Pradesh: From Gujarat, Advani may be tempted to go to MP, but he would be best advised against it. The state of MP has a lot to hide on the subject of corruption. The local government also has a lot to fear from the CBI investigation of the Shehla Masood murder case, where the involvement of the CM is also considered a distinct possibility. After all, Shehla Masood was fighting the BJP government on issues of illegal mining and other environmental issues. While the BJP started off on a high in its first innings in MP, the people are less enthusiastic about its government in its second innings.

Chhatisgarh: Again, Advani will find it difficult to answer why the BJP has not moved one bit on the appointment of the Lok Ayukta in the state inspite of ruling it for the last 2 terms. Further, what explanation will the state government give on its reluctance to act against Babulal Agrawal – taunted as being the richest bureaucrat in the country with illegal assets worth Rs 253 crores? In fact, in spite of the recommendation of the state IT department that action be taken against Agrawal, the state government has done the opposite – it has re-instated him as a secretary in the government. Again, in spite of ruling the state for the last eight years continuously, Raman Singh is hardly in a position to provide Advani a good reception for an anti-corrutption yatra.

Uttarakhand: The BJP was forced to remove its CM in the state just a few days back on serious charges of corruption. The state still has no Lok Ayukta Act. It’s well known that the party has no chances of winning the state back in the elections early next year. What will Advani talk to the people about? That the party allowed a corrupt CM to continue in office for 4.5 years before finally sacking him for political reasons? Uttarakhand is totally avoidable for Advani.

Bihar: Though Nitish Kumar is rated a good CM because of all the development work he is doing, he has a lot to answer on charges of corruption. The Treasury scam of Rs 11,412 crores continues to haunt Nitish Kumar. Further, the CAG report of 2011 charges the Bihar government with a whole lot of financial irregularities in the implementation of government funded schemes adding up to Rs 1784 crores. Now, I am one of those who think that a CAG report should not be used as evidence of corruption before it is vetted by the State Assembly or Parliament……but it is the BJP that has tended to use CAG reports against the central government! Nitish Kumar is a popular CM in Bihar, but let’s be clear. He has benefited from the historical misgovernance of Laloo’s government in the past. From that kind of a position, it would be difficult for anyone to have disappointed the people of the state. Besides, let’s not forget, the BJP and JD (U) are only allies. The JD (U) would be extremely wary of letting Advani take any political advantage in the state. I doubt if Advani will be allowed to have a free run in the state.

The South: There is very little that the BJP has to call its own in the South. In most cases, it doesn’t even have an organization to call its own. Besides, Advani may want to stay as far away from Karnataka as possible! Advani may want to avoid mentioning Karnataka in his yatra…..but will his yatra have any credibility at all if he doesn’t talk about it?

Jharkhand: It’s CM Arjun Munda has just completed one year as CM. What must occupy the CM’s mind the most is continuity as CM. The state has been notorious for throwing out CMs within the first two years. In fact, this is the third tenure for Munda, with his previous longest stint being of just under 2 years. Is Jharkhand really the state that Advani wants to visit on this yatra?

So where does that leave Advani? Basically, all BJP ruled states are out. Advani could visit Congress ruled states like Maharashtra, but unfortunately, the BJP/Shiv Sena is in a state of terrible disrepair. The state that Advani should really go to is UP, the biggest battleground for politics in the country. Since the UP state elections are due early next year, Advani may want to focus on that state. Unfortunately, the BJP has no leader in the state who can pull in the support that Advani would want for a successful yatra. Rajnath Singh and Uma Bharati are hardly known as crusaders against corruption. The deficit in leadership is so stark in UP that even a rookie like Varun Gandhi manages to grab attention. I must concede however that if the BJP can galvanize itself in UP, Advani can make gains in the state.

But first, Advani has to contend with the politics in his own party. With so many PM candidates in the waiting, most have viewed Advani’s yatra as being an attempt by him at becoming PM in 2014. While the party has formally supported his yatra, the real support that Advani will get will be hardly anything. There is a real danger that Advani’s yatra may be a total non-starter.

The real truth is that the BJP is hardly in a position to grab the anti-corruption platform. With 2 CMs sacked for corruption charges, and others under pressure for not acting against corruption (MP, Gujarat), the party hardly has any standing on corruption. No matter how much the party tries to grab centerstage against corruption, its Karnataka fiasco will continue to haunt it. Advani’s effort is a desperate effort to gain personal relevance. It has nothing to do with corruption at all…..

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