The shoe is now on the other foot. For long, the BJP enjoyed the thrills provided by the wild imagination and arbitrary accounting practices of the CAG – sting as they did the Congress. Now that the CAG has pointed a big fat finger at the BJP’s poster boy Narendra Modi bringing out yet another sensational report, the BJP’s discomfiture must be profound. Further, the double standards of the party with respect to the Lokpal and Lok Ayukta are becoming even clearer with every passing month – making it difficult even for the obviously political Anna movement to refuse to acknowledge.
First, the CAG story. The figure propped up by the CAG in its report on Gujarat is staggering. The TOI reported on the last day of March that the CAG had pointed to losses amounting to some Rs 17000 crores in Gujarat. Now, Rs 17000 crores is a staggering number for a single state by any yardstick – what makes matters worse is that apparently, these figures are for just two years or so. There are charges of favoritisim to the CM’s “favorite” corporates – Adani and Essar – and there are charges of poor financial management with respect to oil and gas exploration in the KG basin. There are a plethora of other charges – from not managing the water pollution issues to many more.
Somehow the national media has downplayed the CAG report. Almost nothing has come out in the papers after this initial report was published. The way the report was presented in the state assembly is also indicative of the way Modi functions. The opposition MLAs were banished from the house for “creating ruckus” – this made sure that there was no discussion in the assn the report in the assembly. Nice. Did the media blast this undemocratic – almost dictatorial – way of working? No. Surely the opposition Congress must have attacked the BJP? No. A weakened Congress doesn’t even have the energy left to take on the BJP on this highly damaging report. Except for a lightweight Shaktisinh Gohil – leader of the Congress in Gujarat – there has been no major uproar created by the Congress nationally. So does Modi walk away free? Probably.
Want my views on the CAG’s main charge against Gujarat? I think its all baloney (as the charges in the 2G, S-band and Coal mines are). The CAG has made comments on the inefficiency in exploration in the KG basin – that some 12 drills had to be drilled rather than the 4 planned etc etc. I think the CAG would do good to go through some operational experience. If only they were tasked with actually “doing something” rather than criticizing the work of other “doers”, they would get a better sense of how real life works. It’s a fact that forecasting oil and gas reserves is an imperfect science and there are many hits and misses before hitting paydirt. To present this as a “loss” is a mockery of common sense.
I had written about this a few days back in my post titled “CAG at its ridiculous best again” on March 23rd: “This disastrous working of the CAG should not be made into a political battle. The CAG will devour whoever comes in its way – whether the NDA or the UPA or the Regional parties. The CAG needs to be tamed. It has a huge role to play. It cannot be let to malfunction in this manner” If the BJP thought building its political strategy on the CAG’s reports was going to help it, it was clearly being naïve.
It’s a similar story the BJP is facing with Team Anna. Now there is no doubt that Team Anna has been very pro-BJP so far. For long, and with no explanations offered, it has tolerated the obvious double standards of the BJP. It has never questioned the BJP on its volte face on Lok Ayuktas (the party had agreed to include them under the Central Lokpal bill…..then it suddenly backtracked). While it condoned every such act of the BJP, it was happy to tomtom its rare acts of support immediately – like when the Uttarakhand assembly adopted a “strict” Lok Ayukta bill. Team Anna lost its entire raison-d’etre by siding with the BJP. Now that the movement has lost its sting, it probably realizes its mistake. In a much delayed action, it has criticized the “weak” Lok Ayukta bill passed by the Himachal assembly. The BJP has reacted just like the Congress has been doing for long: that Acts are made in Parliament and Assemblies, not on the streets. And the party does not need a certificate of approval from Team Anna. Wow.
But if history is anything to go by, Team Anna will let the BJP off the hook again – just like it did when the Bihar assembly snubbed it by passing yet another “weak” bill. Or when Modi did by not appointing a Lok Ayukta for years. The Anna movement is led by leaders who have mixed their own personal agendas with the movement. No movement can succeed if it has leaders like Kejriwal and Bhushan and Bedi.
The BJP has to realize that its obstructionist role is doing it no good. It fared miserably in the UP state elections. It is being seen more and more as an opportunistic party; siding with those who attack the Congress whether or not it believes in the issue. By not supporting FDI in multi-brand retail, by refusing support on several other bills including insurance reforms, by riding on the rebellious nature of Mamata Banerjee and by relying on illogical reports of the CAG, the BJP has painted itself as a party desperate for power. A party that is willing to sacrifice any principles it ever stood for.
The real truth is what I have written earlier. There is very little to choose between the Congress and the BJP on matters like corruption. The only major difference between the two remains that one calls itself secular, while the other is an out and out pro-Hindu party……