Monday, November 21, 2011

Under pressure everywhere, BJP decides to boycott Chidambaram.

The BJP’s internal contradictions have been putting pressure on it. Firstly, the BJP has never been able to tame Modi and his reputation with the Muslims in his state. A reputation that has earned Modi three consecutive CM terms and the title of “Hindu Hriday samrat”. Secondly, the BJP has been unable to contain the corruption in its state governments, embarassing Advani on his yatra against it. Yeddy and Pokhriyal are CMs who have had to be sacked for corruption. And finally, its dreams of somehow grabbing power at the earliest are compelling it to somehow….somehow….stall Parliament. Chidambaram is just a handy tool to achieve this – the ex-Finance Minister being under attack for several reasons.

There are at least three reasons why the BJP has zeroed in on Chidambaram. It all started with Chidambaram supporting the probe for Hindu terror elements in the Malegaon blasts case. That upset the BJP to no end. After all, the only core ideology of the BJP is Hindutva and Hindu appeasement – why the majority community needs appeasement is something I cannot understand. Second, Chidambaram’s office is only a door away from the PM’s. If they could get Chidambaram to resign, then that would help them get to the PM. The BJP would then use the convoluted logic that “If Chidambaram resigned, he must have been guilty” just like they now say “If Raja is in jail, he must have done something wrong”. Excuse me, but Raja has not been proven guilty yet (though he surely looks like being so). The party is happy to forget (and the Congress has been coy to accept) that the decision to continue the policy of giving spectrum free (a policy started by the BJP itself) was a cabinet decision. Not Chidambaram’s. Chidambaram may have wanted spectrum to be auctioned (since as FM, he would be interested in raising revenues), but Raja wanted it to be given free. The cabinet must have discussed it and eventually the PM must have overruled Chidambaram – getting comfort from the TRAI’s recommendations not to auction (Governments don’t usually like to go against regulators for fear of being accused of corruption or politicking). If the BJP can get to Chidambaram, they can then get to the PM. It’s like a game of chess – you get the King and the game ends! And lastly, has anyone noticed the growing affinity between Jayalalitha (AIADMK) and the BJP? She sends emissaries to Modi’s sadbhavna fast; her party members attend BJP functions etc? Jaya’s war with Chidambaram is an old one – she having even challenged his 2009 election. Clearly, BJP is happy to keep Jaya in good humor.

These days, the BJP’s actions are driven by its need to deflect attention away from other developments. Yesterday was a particularly bad day for the party – with the SIT in Gujarat concluding that the Gujarat cops in 2004 brutally murdered Ishrat Jehan and others. Not only was this a case of a fake encounter, it was also a case of blatant lying by the police. The SIT has concluded that the actual murder took place a few days earlier than the day when their bodies were found. Even the place of the murder was different from the place where the bodies were found. But very few people are surprised by this finding – earlier the Justice Tamang report had also mentioned something similar. Also, there have been several such cases since Modi has taken over – the Sohrabuddin case springing to memory instantly. How a “good administrator” like Modi let the Gujarat cops run amock needs an explanation from him. The findings yesterday were a stunning blow to Modi – and by extension to the BJP itself. The party had to deflect attention. Boycotting Chidambaram…..and maybe Parliament itself…..was a sure way to do that.

If the BJP blocks Parliament, it will be proved that it cares two hoots for the country. Every commentator on TV and in press has said that the short winter session of Parliament must be allowed to function with 100% efficiency. There are 31 bills to be passed, including the crucial Lokpal Bill. The economy is suffering – largely from a perception that the government has gone into a policy freeze. If the Lokpal Bill is passed, it is likely that the Congress will get out of its mess. That would help improve the business sentiment and that could give a fillip to economic growth. This obviously does not serve the BJP’s purpose. The BJP’s biggest nightmare has to be that the Lokpal issue gets sorted out as early as in this winter session. It would suit them a lot more if the issue dragged on till 2014. No wonder then that the BJP wants the pall of gloom to continue – and the Parliamentary working to be blocked.

Politics is fine. After all, the BJP is a political party. It’s bound to take advantage of the goof ups of the Congress (and there have been quite a few). But there has to be a limit to politics. By blocking Parliament, the BJP is increasingly being seen as a party that cares less for the people and more for its desire for power. Why, it already has 4-5 “prime” PM candidates waiting in the wings! The BJP is willing to put the nation’s interests behind its own. Boycotting an MP is not a new technique – apparently the Congress had also done the same in the past with George Fernandes. So the BJP is perfectly right in returning the favor. But then let it be known – the BJP is not a party with a difference. It’s just another dyed-in-the-wool party – no different from the Congress or any other one for that matter. The nation comes last. Let the party not fool anyone by its “Bharat mata ki jay” battle cry after every public speech. There is no concern for “Bharat mata” – Bharat can wait. The battle will now surely be fought politically and unfortunately, the logjam will continue.

As people of this country, we should be prepared for another wasted Parliamentary session. What Anna Hazare will do if the Lokpal Bill is not passed – in a typical bull-in-a-China-shop fashion – is worrying. He’s already said that it’s the Congress’s job to pass the Lokpal bill. That’s a pretty naive position to take. If Anna wants to dispel doubts about being close to the BJP, he should mount pressure on the BJP to have at least the Lokpal bill discussed and passed. But I am not sure Anna will do that. Instead, I feel Anna will prefer another fast – taking the country into another extended period of despair.

The real truth is that India’s bright future is already in tatters. We should soon prepare ourselves to return to the days of 5% growth. If that happens, it wouldn’t matter who rules the country. The poor will remain poor. The politicians will continue to play petty games. And the country – far from achieving its rightful place in the sun – will continue to lag behind. God save India…..

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