Friday, September 23, 2011

Haha….now BJP wants government majority in Gujarat Lok Ayukta selection panel

Just a few weeks back, the BJP at the center was grilling the Congress over the composition of the selection panel for the Lokpal proposed by it. The Congress’s proposal gave the ruling government three members in the selection panel – the PM, the Speaker and one other minister, while the opposition would have two members – the Leader of Opposition in both the houses. The other four members were to be either from the judiciary or from other “non-political” classes. When this proposal was made, the BJP went to war with the Congress claiming that this was a Congress ploy to be able to annoint a pliable Lokpal. Now Modi is proposing the same!

Modi plans to have a 5-member selection panel for the Gujarat Lok Ayukta. Three out of these five members would be from the government – led by the CM himself. The other two would be the Speaker of the Assembly and the state Home Minister. The last two would be the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of the High Court. So there would be three from the ruling party, one from the opposition and one from the judiciary (hence 60% from ruling party). Nice! The Congress had proposed to have three members from the ruling party in a selection panel comprising nine members (33%)…..for Modi, maybe 33% is not enough! The BJP has outdone the Congress!

But why should we be surprised? The BJP has shown repeatedly that it says one thing and practices quite the opposite. It tried to usurp the anti-corruption platform after Anna had brought corruption center-stage; yet it tolerated corruption for years in its sole southern state of Karnataka. It kept proclaiming on TV that it was in “total” support of Anna’s Jan Lokpal Bill; yet when it came to the crunch, it said that it didn’t want the PM unconditionally included under the Lokpal (“unconditional” was a key demand of Anna). Nor did it want the judiciary under the Lokpal. Nor give powers to the Lokpal to tap phones. When it comes to Lok Ayuktas, the BJP supported Anna in having a single central act to enact Lok Ayuktas in the states; yet it has failed to create Lok Ayuktas in so many of its long-ruled states. When it demands that Kalmadi be sacked as President of the IOA, it appears to be taking a principled stand against politicians running sports bodies. Yet it allows its senior leaders Arun Jaitley and Vijay Kumar Malhotra control the Delhi District Cricket Association and the IOA respectively (after Kalmadi’s departure).

There are many other similar examples of double-speak. One the one hand, when the CAG came out with a sensational report on the 2G scam, the party wanted the PM’s resignation even before the report was placed in Parliament; on the other hand, when the same CAG comes out with reports against its state governments, it wants the reports tabled in the assembly! On the one hand, the BJP accuses the PM of being “remote controlled” by 10 Janpath. On the other hand, all of the BJP is remote controlled by its RSS bosses in Nagpur. On the one hand it supported the GST in the early stages; on the other hand, it is now creating roadblocks in its passage. On the one hand, the BJP dubs the CBI as the Congress Bureau of Investigation or even the Congress Bachao Institution (Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha); on the other hand, its CM in Madhya Pradesh demands a CBI investigation into the murder of Shehla Masood. On the one hand, the BJP jokes about the internal politics of the Congress; on the other hand the internal politics of the party virtually kills Advani’s yatra even before it gets started.

One question that emerges is why the BJP engages in double-speak? I have a theory, but I will leave it to the end of this piece.

The other question is: why does Modi want a “pliable” Lok Ayukta in Gujarat? His supporters claim Modi is a clean CM; that he has nothing to hide. Why then does he want the ruling party to have 60% of the rights on the selection panel? When the Lok Ayukta Act of the state clearly states that the CM has no role to play in the appointment of the Lok Ayukta, why does Modi want to have a role? (Incidentally, the Act was passed by the Congress government and at that time, the BJP had forcefully argued in the assembly that the CM should be kept out of the selection process so that the Lok Ayukta could be chosen fairly). Then there is this uncomfortable Gujarat government circular (dated November 14, 2005) which disallows, under RTI, state officials to part with file notings made in the process of decision-making. We all know how important file notings are. Why is Modi blocking that information from going out? In fact, why has Modi not filled up the Chief Information Officer’s position for so long?

My point here is not that the BJP alone is a party of double-speak. All politicians and all political parties engage in double-speak. The Congress obviously finds itself in a jam over its double speak on corruption. It claims that it wants to rid the country of corruption; yet it does very little to actually remove it. It protests against CAG reports being used by the opposition at the center; yet it revels in doing the same against opposition ruled state governments. All political parties are the same. If the BJP is a master of double-speak, the Congress is no less. If that’s the truth, then nobody should claim to be holier-than-thou…..neither the BJP nor the Congress.

Now my theory of why the BJP appears to engage in double speak! I say “appears to” because all that we catch of the BJP is what we see on TV and read in the papers. The BJP is extremely savvy when it comes to using media – especially TV. It puts up strong speakers for debates on TV channels. Almost all BJP spokespeople – Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Seetaraman, Arun Jaitley amongst others – are better communicators than Congress spokespeople – with the exception of Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Just think of Renuka Chaudhary – she probably thinks she’s acting in a soap opera when she comes on the news channels! Or the spokespeople from the states who cannot speak English but still come on English news channels. Even the un-official spokespersons of the BJP – Swapan Dasgupta, Anupam Kher, Raian Karanjawala to name a few are definitely more aggressive than Congress’s un-official spokespersons (If you don’t believe this…..Kirron Kher, wife of Anupam Kher joined the BJP last year and Raian had contested student elections on a ABVP platform). The BJP at its heart is still a party that reflects the aspirations of the urban middle-class (even though it lost most cities in the 2009 elections). At heart, the BJP is a “baniya” party – urban traders who surely are big TV news watchers. It’s also a “brahmin” party – which explains its Hindutva strategy. The BJP caters largely to an urban TV audience; preferring to address countrymen and women through TV than through the tough political route of going through the dust and grime of rural India. In its zest to appeal to urban TV viewing audiences, it takes one type of a purist stand on TV; but as soon as the rubber meets the road, it changes color. One thing on TV; the opposite in practice…..

The real truth is that when it comes to corruption, both the BJP and the Congress are equally guilty. For every 2G scam that the Congress has to worry about, there is a Karnataka mining scam that the BJP has to hide. For every attack the BJP makes on the Congress on the Lokpal, there is one that it has to face on the same subject. For every corrupt CM the Congress has, it has one of its own. Honestly…..there is very little to choose from amongst the two biggest political parties on grounds of corruption…..

1 comment:

  1. article is fine..just remove 'brahman' brahmans working in BJP are a disgrace on brahman community they are SERVANTS OF THESE BANIYAS..