There is resentment against Mr. Modi’s government among several BJP supporters. The resentment flows from the government’s failure to act against corruption despite its extravagant poll pledges. Their hopes arose after Mr. Subramaniam Swamy’s petition against Mr. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi related to the National Herald newspaper was admitted in court. But hopes receded after the court gave exemption to both leaders from personal appearance. Hopes further dimmed after Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley expressed his views in a TV interview. Mr. Jaitley said that though the income tax department had built a strong case against the Gandhi family, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) would not pursue it. It was left to the public to wonder why. Mr. Jaitley further remarked "The National Herald case is prima facie a very strong case. The Congress could simply return the loan and the matter could end. There is no truth to media reports of an Enforcement Directorate inquiry in the Herald case."
The Finance Minister’s observations were unconventionally bold. In India there is no sub judice law which is exercised only in countries where the jury system prevails. However it is considered inappropriate to comment on ongoing cases. It can become an offence leading to contempt of court if it seems that advice or direction is being given to the court. That could be constituted as interference in due process of law.
Mr. Jaitley’s remarks seen in the context of the tardy pursuit of corruption cases involving Congress ministers is seen as part of the government’s overall approach. This has sparked wild rumours about BJP leaders having colluded with Congress corruption. That is why the government allegedly is soft on corruption. This theory is unconvincing. Even if for argument’s case there was collusion between any BJP leader with Congress corruption, in the prevalent system of governance, given the nature of investigation, prosecution and system of justice, all governments wield sufficient power to nail opponents and protect their own. But apart from corruption of Congress leaders in which Mrs. Gandhi may at best be an abettor for having knowledge without preventing it, any case targeting her personally has different implications. The BJP cannot afford to weaken Mrs. Gandhi because BJP itself desperately needs her.
The by-elections and panchayat polls in Uttarakhand witnessed a trouncing of BJP candidates despite the party’s recent performance in parliamentary elections. The message from voters was clear. The Modi magic seems to work only against the Congress and no other opposition party. If Mrs. Gandhi is humbled the Congress could disintegrate leading to dispersal of all its votes. The Congress vote likely would not go to the BJP but to other parties. Mrs. Gandhi’s political demise would prevent any split in the anti-BJP vote. Can BJP afford to let the Aam Admi Party mop up all the Congress votes in Delhi? It dare not. That is why the BJP desperately needs Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to survive politically. Mr. Jaitley’s approach may simply be cold calculation.