Interesting how two entirely different stories can have threads of commonality. Kejriwal the joker (oh ok….let me add “in the political pack”, though really, that’s not required) has accused the BJP of having “fixed the match” by fielding weak candidates against Sheila Dixit in the past. At the same time, most people in India (not including this blogger) feel that the BJP (Jaitley) fixed another match yesterday – saving Srinivasan’s scalp at the BCCI emergency meeting in Chennai. Srinivasan has only agreed to “step aside” and not “step down”.
The focus of this post is not on Kejriwal but on Jaitley and the BJP. But let me clarify something right at the beginning. In choosing between two evils – BCCI’s/Srinivasan’s defiance/arrogance and media’s extreme methods, I favor the former. So when Srinivasan managed to retain his BCCI Presidentship, a part of me said “Good. This should put the media in its place”. The Indian Express reported that Srinivasan would continue to remain India’s rep at the ICC. Clearly, the man had cocked a snook at media, accusing it of trying him with an agenda. Well, Srinivasan had his day, no matter what the nation’s media thinks. What the nation thinks is anyone’s guess.
But having said that, I want to pose tough questions to Arun Jaitley. Jaitley knew the media’s mood, and this time around, media was united in its demand that Srinivasan be removed for good. Jaitley played along; giving the impression (forget what words he may have used) that he was aghast at the corruption charges and that sacking Srinivasan was the best solution. The reason I am saying we should forget the words is because in a politician’s conduct, words often have lesser meaning than actions. Nothing in Jaitley’s conduct had indicated that he would try to broker such a “middle of the road” solution, saving Srinivasan the blushes. All along, Jaitley gave the impression of being a tough guy, someone who will do whatever it takes to clean the game, and to make sure that the corrupt are not spared. And yet, when it was crunch time, Jaitley did the opposite. He did what a politician does best. Speak one thing to media, do the other thing when it is actual action time.
Jaitley had the media’s backing to demand Srinivasan’s sacking. He would have emerged a hero (read my post yesterday: in today’s age, media decides who is hero and who, villain). But Jaitley did an about turn, becoming the solution provider to ease Srinivasan’s dilemma. He let many down. In fact, much of the social media expressed its disenchantment with Jaitley. At the end of the day, Jaitley was just a loud mouth, who delivered little.
But Jaitley is hardly alone in this kind of double-speak. His party is quite the master at it. At the time when Anna was fasting, the BJP had made many media-friendly statements about how the BJP completely backed Anna. The party had also pushed the Congress into agreeing to a special “sense of the house” resolution, in which it was clearly spelt out that the Lokpal and Lok Ayuktas would be constituted via the same Act. This had been one of Anna’s key demands. But as soon as the media heat was off, and Anna had become a bit of a bore, the BJP changed its tune. It was back to politics. The BJP sensed that many opposition parties (who were also turncoats) wanted to separate the Lok Ayuktas provision from the central Lokpal Act and leave that to the state governments to enact. The BJP – in its political interest, to bind the opposition against the government – readily agreed to this. It’s commitment to Anna didn’t bother it one bit.
I have always said this. The BJP plays a game in which the rules keep changing. The party believes in winning. Period. Rules sometimes become obstructions, and in such instances, they should be given a rest. Worse, they can even be changed if required. One day, the party supports FDI in multi-brand retail; another day, it opposes it. One day, it supports the Food Security Bill; another day, it does everything to block its passage. One day, it gives an assurance to the SC that the Babri Masjid will be protected; another day, it’s leaders exhort its followers to pull it down. One day, it opposes the Congress’s plan to have coal auctions; another day it turns the tables on it. How can one trust such a party? Who knows what such a party will do when it comes to power? The Congress is better. It’s viewpoints don’t change. The party may sometimes appear to be “weak” or “resisting change”, but in each case, it has proven to be true to its word. Take the CBI reforms. The party appears to be resisting making CBI fully autonomous, going against the public mood. But it’s right. The CBI is a police body after all. It has to be under civilian authority. Just like the Army has to be under civilian authority. The BJP will perhaps do the same with the CBI; it will make much noise about autonomy, only to change its colors at the last moment.
One last point. Where is Narendra Modi, the APCO-supported PM aspirant of the BJP? Why did he not even as much as open his mouth on this matter? Why did he not demand that Srinivasan step down? Why did he (and Jaitley) not shut down BCCI like they shut down Parliament for the smallest of reasons? The truth is that this “chhote sardar” is no sardar. He is just another ordinary leader concerned about building his own image. Advani is right. Chouhan is better.
The real truth is that the BJP has done what it is an expert in. Changed its tune at the last moment. Made the compromise with the “devil”. Let everyone down, after raising much hopes. Next time the party’s leaders open their mouth, I won’t be listening….