Congress and BJP jostle for political upmanship

Congress and BJP are harping on each other with various issues to score political points. The two parties are trying to seize every moment in order to project their political upmanship. Cricket world cup may come as a soothing balm for both political parties. At least for a month, cricket fever may overshadow all other important issues.

Ahead of budget session, Congress desperately wanted to put pressure on the BJP and L K Advani’s apology to Sonia Gandhi on black money was timely and came as a breather for Congress toiling hard for an image makeover. CBI challenge in SC against the move to clear LK Advani in Babri case has also resulted as a speed breaker for the Congress against BJP’s tirade against corruption. The BJP is now satisfied with the JPC on 2G spectrum scam and has left its demand for a JPC in each scam. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while announcing a JPC probe into 2G spectrum scam in Parliament tried to score a point for the Congress by saying, "We can ill-afford a situation where Parliament is not allowed to function during the crucial Budget session. It is in these special circumstances that our government agrees to the setting up of a JPC." In other words, he intended to say that the JPC was not that essential but we agreed to it as we wanted to move on. In response to PM’s statement on JPC, BJP leader Arun Jaitely said, "It would have been better had the issue been resolved in a more gracious manner, rather than to say that government had done everything, and a JPC was not necessary. PM has said that since Parliament was paralysed, there was no option, but to accept the demand."

BJP on a sarcastic note raised its pitch against prime minister on the issue of corruption. Arun Jaitely said that earlier not only BJP but even his critics admired him as an honest leader and able economist. He further said, "But what use is personal honesty if you lead one of the most dishonest governments in history? What use is your experience as a distinguished economist if you are unable to really save the common man from the entire gambit of inflation that has set in, in the last three years?"

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also tried to hit the BJP hard by saying that states ruled by the BJP were creating hurdles in the rollout of Goods & Services Tax to bargaining on the arrest of Amit Shah, the former Gujarat Minister of state for home. He also said that the BJP is attacking the government to voice its anger at the action taken on Shah. Earlier, Congress was accused by many political parties on political understanding to let off Narendra Modi in barter for nuclear liability bill.

Congress onslaught on BJP and Sangh Parivar on the issue of Hindutva terror in a subtle way pushed them to the corner. At least for the moment the BJP has to count on itself before coming out in open to support the RSS on any issue. The BJP is virtually divided on supporting Sangh Parivar on terror charges. Except Gadkari, all other BJP leaders have remained a mute spectator on the terror charges levelled against some RSS pracharaks. Congress has been able to put pressure on the BJP and RSS by persistently harping on them on the Hindutva terror charges. Earlier, it was believed that BJP without Sangh Parivar is a non-entity. Now questions are being raised at this juncture as to who needs whom the most under the prevailing situation. RSS now needs the support of the BJP in the same manner when BJP heavily relied on the RSS before. RSS feels more confined and isolated than ever before. Recently, RSS in a letter to Prime Minister has demanded an independent inquiry into the political conspiracy to destabilise the RSS and kill leaders like Mohan Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar. Is RSS on the defensive or the letter was aimed to remind the government of its earlier dark horses? Is RSS credibility at stake?

BJP at the moment is still a divided house but the party is counting on the errors made by the UPA. At a Mahasangram rally of the NDA at Rohtak in Haryana on 20 February, key speakers like L K Advani and BJP national president Gadkari failed to turn up. There is resentment within the party over the apology tendered to Sonia Gandhi by L K Advani before budget session as most of the BJP leaders believe that it has weakened their stand on the issue of corruption. Even Gadkari had earlier cautioned against making rash allegations. The task force report was prepared by people close to Advani. Very recently Gadkari has said that a generational change is the need of the hour to clean the polluted field of politics. He also said that he disagreed with the age-old proverb that old is gold. He himself knows whom he was pointing at.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2011 on page no. 1

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