THE HORSE- TRADERS
By Sanjay Jha
( If indeed the BJP did orchestrate the cash-for-votes scam , did it not effectively contaminate India’s reputation for their own political resuscitation? Should we casually ignore the damage to Brand India )?
There is a wafer-thin fine distinction between audacity and temerity. The latter imbibes a bit more of chutzpah and cunning. Thus, there was ample temerity on exhibition when the octogenarian BJP leader LK Advani made his bombastic declaration in Parliament : Arrest me if you can! That vociferous outburst pregnant with implied piousness was actually a calculated ploy to divert attention from the central issue; that BJP had orchestrated a sting operation to entrap some MP’s during the Lok Sabha vote on the controversial nuclear bill on July 22nd 2008. While former BJP media adviser Sudheendra Kulkarni is being seen as the “genius mastermind” behind that uninspiring hackneyed plot, the truth is that such a Bollywood-like convoluted stratagem would have certainly needed some senior gentleman’s benedictions. That’s where Mr Advani comes in. Either Advani is sandbagging serious impending embarrassment or positioning himself as the usual self-righteous martyr for a larger cause. With the UPA battling a smorgasbord of financial irregularities from coalition partners , Advani hopes to cleverly checkmate them with his solitary pawn alone. Either way, like Narendra Modi’s highly trumpeted fast happening alongside for communal harmony , it reflects that BJP is consumed by schadenfreude, as UPA battles rising inflation, frequent terrorist attacks, unresolved scams and a troubled neighborhood. The BJP’s mantra seems to be to manipulate susceptible public opinion through their classic cocktail; high media attention and aggressive solemnity .The success of the Anna Hazare experiment is seeing immediate replication. Not surprising.
The cash for votes scam was undoubtedly a man-made calamity, revealing low levels of artificial intelligence. For one, the only way a sting operation would have carried authenticity was if BJP had showed MP’s from parties other than their own being financially seduced. Offering your own MP’s as the bait seemed a rather trite effort, like a home production manufactured by the Salman Khan family. Now whether MP’s were up for sale at a premium or discount only further investigation will establish, but there are obviously gaping holes. For instance, how did this hard cash get into the hands of Ashok Argal, Faggan Kulaste and Mahaveer Bhagora, the three BJP MP’s who stood as the human ATM’s in parliament ? What was the source? Where did the BJP functionaries accumulate the Rs 1 crore cash from unless it is irrefutably established that it was from other sources? That is a lot of money for a political party to keep in such liquid form. And if indeed there are innumerable bank accounts that were simultaneously utilized, the nexus would be even easier to prove. That simple straight-forward investigation of the money trail will nail the real culprits. I am assuming it should not be a complicated process.
But it took Mr Advani all of three years to miraculously re-discover enlightenment. Earlier, he had completely lapsed into amnesiac daze on the Kandahar hijacking. Clearly, Mr Advani knew the Lok Sabha TV cameras were capturing his excruciating predicament as he ensured prime time occupancy on TV channels. In sports, we often say, attack is the best form of defense. In case of Mr Advani, it was also the most apposite method of deflection. I am flabbergasted as to why the BJP under a rightfully indignant Advani did not take to the streets if they felt the KC Deo parliamentary committee report was either half-baked, which willfully soft-pedaled UPA’s attempt at buy-outs or appeared to be stonewalling further probe. BJP’s deafening silence for such a considerable period is baffling, because with the TV channel that was supposed to be a co-conspirator in the sting operation developing cold feet , perhaps they realized that they were skating on thin ice. The “ big impact” statement that they hoped to make on July 22nd itself had boomeranged. Yet, truth should have been vigorously pursued, right?
That Amar Singh is a celebrated foxy wheeler-dealer was hardly unknown even to the pigeons in 4, Feroze Shah Road. I suspect the grand booby-trap of the BJP was actually fairly elementary; one, who would be the perceived beneficiary of horse-trading? Obviously, the UPA. That would in one swift stroke consign the Congress-led coalition to the dust-bin. Secondly, given Amar Singh’s seedy reputation, few would raise eyebrows if Singh was seen as the man selling grease paint, given Samajwadi Party’s belated recognition of India’s energy deficiencies. Armed with these two straightforward brain-waves, apparently, Sudheendra Kilkarni displayed that much lauded “ statecraft” that BJP leaders often accuse the UPA of being woefully inadequate of. Fairly infantile tricks, actually.
The BJP went hammer and tongs behind a Wikileaks cable that insinuated that the Congress was attempting a “ stuffed suit-case strategy” to purchase MP’s. This was not just horse-trading, but stable-swapping. But it will be preposterous to take a leaked diplomat’s post-dinner ruminations to be damning legal evidence. In that case, the BJP stands thoroughly exposed itself as the cables also indicated that if it returned to power in 2009 elections, BJP would actually endorse the nuclear bill; the no-confidence motion was thus nothing more than a pure political stunt shorn of both ideology or India’s own self-interest .That is not just bad politics, but abysmal statesmanship from a leading national political party. Time for a chintan-baithak, perhaps??
It appalls me as to how we have such a short-memory that after just three years of that sordid display in Parliament we have completely overlooked how that event damaged India’s reputation in front of a stunned global audience ? The critical question is; did the BJP shame the nation’s stature for their own political resurrection? Should we allow political parties the right to abuse our democratic institutions for their own nefarious objectives, their own self-promotion? If indeed, the sting operation was just a deviously-planned conspiracy to defame UPA, aren’t the leaders of BJP guilty of eroding their country’s honor, the same nation that they had gone ballistic over for India Shining just five years earlier ? Are we missing the woods for the trees here all over again?
Before he embarks on his anti-corruption crusade, Mr Advani needs to look the nation in the eye and the man in the mirror, and address some simple-truths. Charity like the chariot usually begins at home.
( Sanjay Jha is Co-Founder, HamaraCongress.com. He can be reached at Sanjay_ Jha @DaleCarnegie.com ).