Divided BJP fails to count on error made by Congress

Divided BJP has once again failed to mount pressure on the Congress. Rift within the BJP has surfaced time and again. Be it on the issue of demand for a JPC on scams, saffron terror and inflation, the opposition could not talk in one voice. Differences over prime minister accepting an error of judgement in the appointment of CVC between Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely were evident and proved beyond doubt that the opposition has failed to echo its concerns collectively Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a day after the Supreme Court struck down the controversial appointment of PJ Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner honestly accepted the mistake on his part by saying, “I respect the judgement of the Supreme Court and I accept my responsibility.” The Prime Minster’s acceptance of error of judgement in PJ Thomas case is believed to have been aimed to put across a message in polical sphere that his rejection of responsibility of any kind on the 2G spectrum scam was because he had not committed any amount of error in it. In appointment, yes but on scam, a blunt no.

The Prime Minister while shouldering the error in the judgement wanted to make it clear before the people that if we commit any mistake we accept it, unlike BJP which not only rejects mistakes on their part but also defends the wrongdoers within the party or from alliance partners. Political analyst, Pankaj Vohra in his article in Hindustan Times on 6 March has said that by accepting the responsibility for the decision to appoint PJ Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) following the apex court’s ruling that the appointment was illegal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has exhibited statesmanship of the highest order. In doing so, he has sent out a strong signal that if a mistake is made, it is best to admit it rather than hide behind bureaucratic notings. The PM has finally shown that the buck stops with him and that he, like any other citizen, had no hesitation in accepting the verdict of the highest court. But the prime minister proved the very notion wrong on 8 March in Rajya Sabha by shifting the blame on to Prithviraj Chavan, the then minister of state in charge of the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), for not informing him about the chargesheet against Thomas and shortlisting his name.

While accepting the error on Thomas appointment, the prime minister might have pondered over the adage that “sometimes an orderly retreat is greater than victory.” And to some extent it worked as the BJP could not put pressure on him or the Congress because of his honest submission. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj while appreciating the prime minister’s accepting responsibility for the CVC’s appointment, which was annulled by the Supreme Court, tweeted, “I appreciate the statement of the prime minister owning responsibility for the appointment of CVC, which has been quashed by the Supreme Court. I think this is enough. Let matters rest at this and we move forward.” Difference of opinion surfaced when the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitely sought clarification from the prime minister as to whether he was misled or he chose to be mislead on the issue of appointment of the CVC. Sushma Swaraj thereafter tried to bridge the difference of opinion by saying that there is a constraint on Twitter that you have to say things in 140 characters only. Sushma might have blamed the Twitter but some political analysts believe that Sushma by doing so was trying to magnify her position in order to fill the vaccum created in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The statement was deliberately chosen by her in order to make herself acceptable in the political circles.  

In the BJP, various leaders are positioning themselves or lobbying for the prime ministerial candidate for the coming Lok Sabha polls. Gadkari’s loyalists are believed to have launched malafide campaign against his possible rivals for the post like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely. After LK Advani, who is considered to be the odd man out within and outside the party, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely are considered probable candidates. The election strategy of Swaraj and Jaitely in the coming assembly elections in states and its outcome may come as an added advantage for both these candidates.        

Most of the BJP’s anti-corruption rallies could not make a mark and lacked in spirit.  In many of these rallies senior BJP leaders did not show up and turned out to be a lacklustre event. Even on the issue of demanding a JPC on 2G spectrum, opinions of some of the BJP leaders were not in consonance with others. On the issue of Hindu terrorism, BJP’s earlier stand was that it was being done in order to malign the image of the RSS and BJP or to divert people’s attention from the issue of corruption and price rise. Now both the RSS and the BJP are on the defensive and trying to keep themselves at a distance from all those recently arrested RSS activists on terror charges and also after the Aseemanand confession. Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP spokesperson, recently said, “Our party’s viewpoint is very clear that if there are some terrorists who follow the Hindu religion, then they don’t understand the ethos of Hinduism. If they are involved in terrorism, then action should be taken against them as terrorism has no religion, no ethics.”  

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2011 on page no. 5

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