Questions for Yashwant Sinha
BJP leader Mr. Yashwant Sinha seems to have his ear very close to the ground and can make a very accurate assessment of political trends. This is apparent from the fluctuating nuances of his various statements on current situations. Mr. Sinha hailed Mr. LK Advani as his party’s main leader. Then along with Mr. Advani he boycotted his party’s meeting in Mumbai and asserted that he was not suffering from “Namo-nia”. After Mr. Modi’s anointment as the BJP poll campaign chief in that meeting in Mumbai he praised the Gujarat Chief Minister as the most worthy prime ministerial candidate. Recently on the eve of the crucial RSS-BJP meeting to discuss poll strategy attended by Mr. Modi and BJP President Mr. Rajnath Singh, Mr. Sinha categorically asserted that Mr. Modi will definitely be the next Prime Minister of India.
One has no reason to doubt Mr. Sinha. He knows ground realities as ordinary citizens do not. It may therefore safely be accepted that Mr. Sinha is right and Mr. Modi will be the next Prime Minister. But the question that troubles this writer is whether that will improve matters by ending corruption, tightening governance and introducing accountability. After all that is what the public is yearning for. This writer is troubled because several aspects of Mr. Modi’s record as administrator raise questions. One is sure there would be good explanations to address them and Mr. Sinha could provide answers to clear all doubts.
One quite recent aspect of course relates to Mr. Modi’s government depriving Punjabi farmers of their lands in the Kutch region because they were not Gujaratis. By the 1948 Bombay Tenancy Act as interpreted by Mr. Modi’s government this fact debarred them from owning land in Gujarat . The Gujarat High Court considered the government’s interpretation of the Act flawed and therefore struck down the order. Mr. Modi’s government has appealed against the judgment in the Supreme Court. For a party that never tires of propagating Akhand Bharat as its ideal it becomes a little baffling for ordinary citizens to decipher the nature of the Akhand Bharat being envisaged. Already in Punjab various organizations are demanding explanation from the Akali government about how it can countenance such treatment of Punjabis from its NDA partner. Not surprisingly the Congress has jumped into the fray and the Punjab Congress President Mr. Bajwa is trying to corner Mr. Badal on this issue. However the mainstream English language print media and the major TV channels have ignored the issue. Thereby it may not dent Mr. Modi’s image which is determined after all by how the national media projects him.
There are other puzzling aspects about Mr. Modi’s style of governance. There was the case of former Minister Maya Kodnani. She was being investigated for murder related to the Gujarat riots. Despite the ongoing investigation Mr. Modi retained her as a Minister in his government. Could this not have affected the credibility of the probe? Was it not breach of democratic propriety? Nevertheless the police charged the Minister and the court convicted her. It sentenced her to 24 years of imprisonment. The Chief Minister who had retained her as Minister while a murder probe was proceeding against her, subsequent to the judgment moved the court to alter its ruling and award her a death sentence. After members of the RSS condemned his decision Mr. Modi withdrew his demand for a death sentence. One knows of course that Mr. Modi is a very decisive administrator and must have had good reasons for this huge flip flop. Perhaps Mr. Sinha could enlighten us.
However it is Mr. Modi’s conduct as board member of the BCCI that is most puzzling. The alleged corruption and betting scandal attached to Indian Premier League (IPL) has rocked the nation. The police are investigating the case. In the course of its investigation the police arrested the son-in-law of the BCCI President Mr. Srinivasan for involvement in match fixing in collusion with bookies despite which the President refused to resign. Mr. Srinivasan claimed that he had personally committed no wrong. However he claimed that his son-in-law was not connected to the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) cricket team but was only an enthusiast. This statement raised questions. His son-in-law was repeatedly described publicly as the owner of the CSK franchise. If the President was not lying why did he allow that falsehood go unchallenged for so long. Circumstantial evidence demanded a credible explanation from Mr. Srinivasan that was never forthcoming.
Not relying on the police investigation the BCCI appointed a panel to probe the IPL scandal. The panel exonerated Mr. Srinivasan. But the court dismissed the panel’s findings and described its appointment completely flawed. Despite this chequered record of events Mr. Srinivasan refuses to resign and continues as the BCCI President. There are eleven members of the BCCI governing board. In a BCCI meeting in Kolkata Mr Srinivasan had silenced board members by warning them that if he was to resign they would all have to resign. Among the eleven board members are three key BJP leaders namely future Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mr. Arun Jaitley and the head of the BJP youth body Mr. Anuragh Thakur. Not one of them has raised his voice against Mr. Srinivasan and dared to question him.
On June 3rd it was pointed out in these columns: “IPL is big money. Big money attracts corrupt elements, like flies are attracted to honey. Very likely, the individuals involved with BCCI have very honourable reasons to justify their conduct. But, in public perception they have dragged their feet because they are vulnerable to threat of exposure by Mr Srinivasan… Official investigators have claimed that Dawood Ibrahim is the mastermind behind the betting racket… a good part of the funds generated by match-fixing are used to fund terrorism. If true, it becomes an issue of national security.” All these facts did not seem to bother the leaders of the BJP.
This writer was elated after Mr. Modi gave a clarion call to rid the nation of the Congress Party’s presence. Indeed, as Britain’s instrument for the Partition of India the Congress deserves to be dissolved as Mahatma Gandhi had demanded. But what troubles this writer is that in the light of the above information if Mr. Modi cannot stand up against corruption in a mere cricket league, how will he stamp out corruption across the nation? Mr. Yashwant Sinha may be right in asserting that Mr. Modi will be our next Prime Minister.
What needs to be asked is: Will that make real difference?