Political Drama: BJP Against Jaswant Singh

Despite all the hype raised about Jaswant Singh’s expulsion from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over his book “Jinnah: India,Partition, Independence, ” the fact remains that little attention has been paid to his remaining listed as a member of Lok Sabha from the BJP. In view of the noise made by BJP leaders demanding his resignation as the chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, it is strange that till earlier this month, the party made virtually no noise seeking his resignation from the Lok Sabha. They have justified their demand for his resignation as the PAC chairman as Singh secured it on ground of his being a member of the principal opposition party. In their words, he should quit the post as it “belonged to BJP,” from which he had been expelled. Signaling their stand, the BJP members and party’s allies refrained from participating in a PAC meeting convened by Singh this month. Well, why haven’t the same members asked for his resignation from Lok Sabha, if they feel so strongly against Singh holding on to any position, which he secured as a BJP member? Why?

The ongoing political war between Singh and the BJP certainly suggests that the tussle has far greater implications than apparent. Singh’s decision to approach the Supreme Court and have the ban imposed on his book in Gujarat lifted suggests the same. Certainly, Singh has the constitutional right to approach the apex court against the Gujarat High Court’s ban on his book. He did and earned ample media coverage, free publicity and great sale of his book even in Gujarat with all these scales tipped heavily in his favor.

It is but natural for several critics to raise questions on Singh’s decision to approach the apex court as it appears only for the sake of his book. They have asked: Why did he not approach the apex court on the Gujarat-carnage and against the state chief minister Narendra Modi? Well, it seems fairly unnatural to expect any veteran BJP leader to take any action or even utter a word against what seems favoring the party. It is only after BJP lost the second parliamentary elections in a row, the party leaders have been forced to acknowledge the political damage done at the national level by leaders such as Modi and those following his path (including Varun Gandhi). Political strategy behind the entire Singh versus BJP drama may be directed to undoing this damage. Singh’s attempt to project Jinnah in a more favorable light than expected of those linked with saffron brigade could be a part of the campaign to change anti-Pak image held by leaders associated with BJP and its hardcore groups. It must be clearly noted, Singh has been expelled only from the party, which of course has negligible relevance till the same party calls for his resignation/dismissal from Lok Sabha, where till earlier this month he remained listed as a BJP member.

Behind the scenes, several party members and sympathizers are apparently working hard to change BJP’s image and enhance the political appeal of its leaders. It may be recalled that after several hardcore saffron brigade members accepted that entering the political field as members of extremist group (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) carried little electoral appeal that they decided to launch its political wing- the BJP. A similar strategy is being apparently exercised now but with the use of different tactics. They are probably taking a few political tips from the break-up of Congress, its defeat in national polls and its return to power. The Congress heads a multi-party coalition, with several of its allies being former Congress members. These include, among others, Sharad Pawar and Mamata Bannerjee.

Jaswant Singh is making all possible efforts to “distance” himself from the BJP, to the point of even stating that there was no question of his ever returning to the party. Till he remains listed in the present Lok Sabha directory as a BJP member, such statements may well be considered as nothing more than rhetoric. In this context, there is nothing surprising about more BJP members coming out gradually but definitely in support of Singh. News about an internal division within the BJP on Singh’s expulsion as well as the control exercised on the party by RSS is also being given ample coverage. The BJP as well as Singh have taken a major risk by hitting out at each other with the hope of apparently politically cashing on this game in the near future. They have erred by counting on this strategy- based only on an individual’s viewpoints expressed in a book- on having appeal beyond media-coverage and some publicity. The partition and those responsible for it carry little political relevance for today and tomorrow’s voters. Not surprisingly, critics have strongly stated Singh’s moves would have carried far greater appeal had he taken the same stand on issues, including Gujarat-carnage, that have actually turned today’s voter against the BJP!

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2009 on page no. 18

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