Does Lahore help BJP’s sagging image?

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M J Akbar- edited Pic

BJP has termed PM Modi’s Lahore visit a ‘Transformative Moment’ for Subcontinent whereas Congress termed it unfortunate one. There may be some truth in BJP’s claim. In civil society there are sections who have criticised Congress for over simplification of this important development as well. But political moves always have many perspectives which need to be explored and examined further.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise halt at Lahore way back from Kapisa may or may not be a great diplomatic feat (depending on the side you take). It may divert the attention from the raging scandal around DDCA and Union Finance Minister Arun Jailey’s involvement therein for a couple of days but no more. That’s because by serving a suspension order on Bihar BJP MP Kirti Azad, party president Amit Shah, in his unconcealed enthusiasm to please his master, might have already complicated the PM’s attempt to save his ‘all weather buddy’ AJ. It’s already visible. Party elders have already questioned the procedure followed in suspending the MP known for his impeccable record of honesty like his father. Indeed, it may not be an exaggeration to say that Azad may become the rallying point for all the dissenting voices that have been looking out for the opportunity from the time of the Bihar assembly election to vent their anger against the growing cartelization of power in a party differentiated from Congress by its democratic norms.

As the political opposition pegs its anti-AJ campaign on “rent a laptop for Rs 16,000 a day,” the Prime Minister would be read out the riot act by his MPs, particularly from Bihar and UP, who have turned highly apprehensive of the acts of omission and commission of the Finance Ministry. Led by party elders including Dr Subramaniam Swamy, party MPs have a huge grievance list that includes, among other things, government mishandling of OROP that has alienated the armed forces (compelling the three chiefs to petition a joint letter) from the party, contemptuous and criminal abnegation on electoral promises to farmers and the people at large, abysmal and morale-shattering failure of the FM on black money and disappointing performance of the economy in generating promised employment for the young.

These are issues on which the government has shut its eyes and made party MPs highly vulnerable to criticism from their constituencies. And the loss of Bihar and the way candidates were selected and given tickets there has confirmed the worst fears of these MPs – that the government and party are coalescing into an oligarchy at their cost and of the people who reposed faith in them.

So when the DDCA scandal broke out, most of these MPs heaved a sigh of relief and have been emboldened by Azad daring to do what they have been wanting to do all this time.

NaMo on his part has no option but to accept the reality: that a scandal is a scandal and he must steer clear of it lest he should lose his reputation too. Indeed, no politician at home or abroad has ever succeeded in diverting attention from a scandal once caught by its Octopus-like arms. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi dragged the nation’s might into Sri Lanka in June 1987 to divert the attention of gullible Indians from the then raging scandals around the purchases of much-needed Bofors 155mm howitzers and HDW submarines. Even though he was not personally involved, his diversionary tactics of going into Sri Lanka to protect the rights of ethnic Tamils were publicly seen as an attempt to smokescreen the reputation of his near and dear ones. The net result was that he lost the next election at the hands of a pretentious and intellectually dishonest band of politicians that grouped under an umbrella party called Janata Dal.

Similarly, Lahore is not going to provide protection to NaMo. His way is already laid: faced with complaints against his Telecom Minister Ramvilas Paswan, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee didn’t dither for a second in dropping him from the Cabinet, though he ran a very shaky government. That saved him and government from facing any charge of wrong doing.

Written by: M K Shukla (Editor)

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