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BJP is corrupt and communal

The petrol pump scandal has only strengthened the point made in the tehelka expose that the BJP is not a party with a difference that it claims to be, says Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr 

New Delhi: When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman in Parliament V K Malhotra told journalists on Monday afternoon that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had directed that the allotment of 4,000 petrol pumps across the country should be cancelled, though legally unassailable, and that it showed that the party was taking the moral high ground, the room reverberated with the jeers of the journalists. It was evident that Malhotra found the situation a little too hot. He was arguing that Minister for Petroleum Ram Naik had done no wrong. The Indian Express had uncovered the scandal with admirable brilliance.

The BJP's claims to be a arty with a difference has become some sort of a cruel joke in media and political circles. And the loud protestations of the party leaders to the contrary just do not hold water. And it is apparent that the BJP will find it harder than ever to defend itself. 

Naik may be forced to resign after some time, and the party managers will congratulate themselves that they had succeeded in crisis management. And not too many tears are likely to be shed at the possible exit of Naik. There are enough detractors of Naik inside the party, and they would be only too happy to see him go. 

But the resignation of Naik will not help remove the rot that has set into the BJP. The incontrovertible truth is that the BJP is now a corrupt-ruling party, and the only negative solace it can seek is that Congress, its arch-rival, was corrupt too. 

After the tehelka expose of March, 2001, where the then BJP president Bangaru Laxman was shown on camera accepting Rs 1 lakh from a tehelka journalist posing as an arms dealer, the petrol pump scandal is another major expose which shows the chinks in the so-called moral armour of the right-wing party. 

The government and the party would want to brazen it out as they had done in the case of the tehelka expose. Then, Laxman had to resign from the pos of party president, and Defence Minister George Fernandes had to step down because his party - Samata Party - president Jaya Jaitley talked about a defence deal in the house of Fernandes and accepted money, though she did not take it with her own hands like Laxman. Jaitley too resigned as party president. 

Vajpayee described the tehelka expose as a "wake-up call" and set up the Venkataswami Commission, hoping that these measures would save the day. And he has done it again by directing that all the allotments be cancelled. 

These gestures may seem sagacious, but the problem does not go away. The image of BJP has been permanently dented. The misdeeds of BJP are all the more reprehensible because the party had always made these moral claims, which have turned out to be false. 

It has now become clear that the BJP is not only a party with a communal ideology, but it is also corrupt. After the Gujarat carnage, it seemed that a communal party like the BJP is more dangerous than a corrupt Congress. Having jumped on to the bandwagon of corruption as well, the party has become doubly culpable. 

The petrol pump scandal is one more proof for the people to deliver their final verdict against the BJP at election time. The BJP leaders now know that the hour of reckoning is round the corner, and the fear of doom is writ large on their faces.

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