When Mr. LK Advani unnecessarily sent a letter of apology to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi I wondered if he was in some manner vulnerable to government pressure. His party colleague Mr. Ram Jethmalani argued that there was no apology in the letter. Mr. Advani had merely said that Mrs. Gandhi should have denied earlier having a foreign bank account. Mr. Jethmalani was indulging in legal semantics. There was no provocation to have at all sent that letter.
Now there occur events within the BJP before the crucial UP assembly election that are even more inexplicable. BJP President Mr. Nitin Gadkari has taken steps that may only be described as being suicidal for his party’s poll prospects. First, Mr. Gadkari took an unnecessarily hard line against its most important ally, the Janata Dal United (JDU), in the matter of seat sharing. Negotiations collapsed and now the JDU will contest all seats in UP to significantly cut the BJP vote.
Even more surprising was Mr. Gadkari’s decision to welcome into the BJP’s fold a leader dismissed by the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for alleged corruption, Mr. Babu Singh Khushwaha. In the wake of the party’s much touted campaign against corruption this seemed like deliberate sabotage of the party’s poll prospects. Corruption most likely will be the biggest poll issue. First Mr. Anna Hazare’s movement limped to a halt with a whimper. Now the BJP has shot itself in the foot. Even a Congress mole within the BJP could not have acted more effectively to damage the party than Mr. Gadkari has done.
The question naturally arises: can the BJP leaders really be so stupid as to damage their party before the polls by making a laughing stock of their campaign against corruption? Mr. Gadkari defended his decision by stating that Mr. Khushwaha was not charged with murder but only with corruption! Do questions of murder currently nag Mr. Gadkari? One cannot but help recall that a Maharashtra police probe into the unexplained dead body of a teen aged daughter of Mr. Gadkari’s employee found in a car in his compound has been pending for the last two and a half years. The probe has made no visible progress despite public protests. Can the probe findings embarrass Mr. Gadkari in any manner? It remains to be seen what happens to that probe in the future. The government has power to exercise and the reach to pressure its vulnerable opponents. One does no know if it is doing this.
Mr. Anna Hazare’s and BJP’s effort to make corruption the biggest issue against the government may recoil on them. On Saturday the court will resume hearing Dr. Subramaniam Swamy’s petition against Home Minister Mr. Chidambaram on the 2G Spectrum scam. The court had asked Dr. Swamy to get his documents certified before the court could proceed with the case. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has duly certified the documents. There could be dramatic progress in the case. If that happens the Congress may not be seen as running a corrupt government. It may well successfully project itself as a government determined to root out corruption regardless of the political cost. If the Congress succeeds doing this even Mr. Anna Hazare will find it difficult not to offer support. Going by present trends the Congress might well significantly improve its tally in the UP poll. That would give a huge boost to Mr. Rahul Gandhi.