Saturday, February 19, 2011


During the Lok Sabha elections of 2009, to the surprise of many, he took Sonia Gandhi's slave-appointee, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on in a direct Presidential-type fight. In doing so, he took her, his and BJP’s principal adversary, out of the fight and put her on a pedestal with a de facto clean chit. With Sonia so anointed saint and the scrupulously clean Singh declared Enemy No.1, a BJP victory that seemed near certain before the Nuclear Deal fiasco in Parliament in 2008 became a humiliating defeat.

Despite that crushing rout, LK Advani refused to quit -- theatrics apart – and make way for new blood to reinvigorate a demoralised party. It is possible that the coterie that had grown around him, that had little or no mass following and that drew strength primarily from proximity to him, persuaded him to stay on so that it could complete what it had begun.

This group, as I understand as a complete outsider, is largely responsible for what Arun Shourie calls ‘homogenisation’ of the BJP -- the metamorphosing of it into a networked value clone of the Congress party -- and contributed significantly to its defeat. Under Advani, it continues to call the shots and is driving the BJP into a canyon, getting out from which will need a leader of exceptional skills and ability.

In 2011, Sonia Gandhi’s UPA 2 government stands exposed as one executing possibly the greatest plunder in India’s history in so short a span of time. It’s raining scams like never before, involving amounts that only a year back were not even conceivable. Manmohan Singh remains the nominal Prime Minister whom no member of the cabinet listens to or gives a damn about. The real power, as the whole wide world knows, remains in the hands of Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul who is not PM yet only because he is convinced that he is not good enough for the job, and afraid that once he gets into the hot seat, the cool, dark shade that Singh provides for him to revel in will no longer be available, and the scorching heat will burn him before his time.

The failures of the Sonia government are so colossal and unpardonable that had there been a credible opposition in place, Congress leaders would not have been strutting around as brazenly as they are. Nor would have Sonia and Rahul been allowed to remain un-singed on pedestals beyond accountability and responsibility for what minions serving at their pleasure are doing. Tragically for India, that is the sorry state that this nation finds itself in today primarily because the Advani-led coterie that runs the BJP has failed to do what it should have as a responsible and responsive opposition.

In the middle of the din created by Raja’s arrest for the 2G scam, new scams, CBI inquiries and what now is evidently going to a ‘fixed’ JPC into the 2G scam, LK Advani has again shot the BJP in the foot and, on a silver platter, given a clean chit to Sonia Gandhi that even her most ardent supporters would not have dreamt of. In the process he also has, in one stroke, trashed the assiduous efforts of a section of his own party, manifestly not a part of the coterie, that had come up with a detailed report on black money stashed by Indians abroad.

Note the chronology. The report of the black money task force was released on February 01. On February 15, Sonia Gandhi wrote to Advani expressing her “personal distress” at the allegations – which she denied -- that she and Rajiv had bank accounts abroad. Within three days, Advani shot out a reply saying “I am happy you have categorically denied” them and adding, “I deeply regret the distress caused to you.”

Had these allegations been entirely unfounded or had never been made earlier, Advani’s express clean chit and apology would have been understandable. But, not only have they been made regularly for a long time, beginning with an article in a Swiss journal way back in 1991, they have been made publicly even on national television by many Indians from time to time. But for almost two decades, Sonia kept mum; neither did she deny these allegations nor did she say they caused her distress.

What prompted her to respond to the report of the task force with such alacrity? What drove Advani to do what he did almost the moment he got her letter? Would Advani not have known that the Congress party would milk such an unqualified clean chit to death, absolving, as it does, its Supreme leader of not just past wrongdoings but also making her appear spotlessly clean in the middle of all the muck that she has allowed to flow for the last six years? Would it not have struck him that her denial was in the present tense, that she, in effect, was also claiming that she was not receiving any pelf, and that he was certifying to the Indian public that she was indeed speaking the truth?

If Advani did not understand the ramifications of what he was writing, then he should gracefully drive himself into oblivion, and those responsible for drafting it publicly driven out of the BJP. If he did read and comprehend what he was signing, then the matter is even more serious.

Then the needle of suspicion points to the possibility that he and his coterie stand seriously compromised personally and that Sonia holds the key. This also helps explain their consistent reluctance to blame Sonia for anything and their limiting their attacks to her dummy PM who has displayed despicable lack of spine in standing up to her, and who has let her thugs plunder this country fearlessly. Since he will not be Congress' PM candidate in the next elections, hitting him makes no sense because it does only one thing: it enhances the images of Sonia and Rahul and conceals their monumental failures that should have seen them on the street by now.

The BJP has already paid a heavy price for these follies that can best be attributed to compulsion/complicity, and its credibility is at a new low. The longer this lot holds the reins of power in the BJP, the more grievous damage it will inflict on the party, indeed the whole country.

I have no idea who the leaders of the coterie that needs to be dismantled pronto are. But, if one pay attention to the names that NDTV, virtually the Congress party’s own channel, speaks favourably of as BJP’s PM candidates, then only two names emerge: Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, with the former being its first choice by many a mile. As per The Pioneer, owned and edited by BJP MP Chandan Mitra, even Ambika Soni spoke of them in response to questions on Advani's apology. Coincidentally, they are also among the most homogenised of the next lot of leaders.

The BJP may have some hard choices to make.