This is my translation of Pratap Simha’s article published in Kannada Prabha on 7 September 2013. Comments and criticism welcome as always.
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within,” said Cicero back in the time BC. If we replace the word “nation” in his quote with “party,” it will be a perfect mirror to the developments currently occurring in a national party called the Bharatiya Janata Party. There’s a reason we need to say this:
Lal Krishna Advani
This foursome is more popularly known in the Twitter universe as Dilli-4 or D4. When Arun Shourie in his interview with Devil’s Advocate last week mentioned about some stateless leaders in the BJP, he was referring to none but this foursome. A gentleman named Vinod Sharma (@vinod_sharma) on Twitter continually criticizes this foursome. Perhaps no other person on Twitter has condemned this group so harshly and so relentlessly over the last two years. Even as this piece was being written, here’s what Vinod Sharma tweeted: If D4 actually succeeds in sabotaging Modi, then there will be nothing to choose between Cong & BJP, and no need to vote. Or tweet. Even the most committed BJP supporters on Twitter didn’t take Vinod Sharma seriously for a long time. They had assumed that he was biased against the Gods named Advani, Sushma, Ananth and Arun.
When we watch the developments, when we see the kind of statements that are being issued, and when we observe the skulduggery going on in the BJP today, it does seem that Vinod Sharma is speaking the truth.
So what exactly is happening in the BJP?
The announcement of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate was supposed to happen on 15 August. That didn’t happen. A high level meeting of the BJP-RSS top brass is scheduled on 8 and 9 September (Ed: the meeting has since happened. No word on his PM candidature yet has come out.). A similar meeting had taken place on 10 August as well. Nothing came out of that either.
So who exactly is blocking Narendra Modi and why?
On 3 September, Bhaiyyaji Joshi–the second most powerful leader in the RSS–who had a meeting with Advani and Sushma Swaraj said, “It looks impossible to delay announcing Modi as the PM candidate any further.” On 31 August, Arun Jaitley expressed his indirect support to Modi when he declared that “there should be no controversy over the issue of the party’s prime ministerial candidate as that would be akin to committing a hit-wicket.” On 17 August, Suresh Soni who is akin to a link between the BJP and the RSS declared that “criticism of Modi will not be tolerated and that strict action must be taken against those who criticise him.” Thus, although there’s consensus within both the Sangh Parivar and the BJP over the choice of Narendra Modi as the PM candidature, the official announcement is yet to ensue. Do you know the reason?
The members are none other than the Advani-Ananth Kumar-Sushma Swaraj trio! Things have come to such a pass that there’s no option but to say this. Cut back to July when the BJP National Executive met at Goa. There it was pretty much clear that Narendra Modi would be declared the party’s Campaign Committe head. When this news reached Advani, he stayed back in Delhi citing the excuse of illness. However, as soon as the news of Modi-as-Campaign Committe-head was confirmed, the selfsame Advani immediately stood up and wrote his resignation letter, which was then splashed all over the media. This singular act was the loudest advertisement of the fact that he placed his self interest above the nation and the party’s interest. Subsequently, there was a dim ray of hope when he retracted his resignation after honouring Sarasanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat’s words. But that was proven wrong again on 15 August. What was Advani’s behaviour that day? It is the people who are the final judges of the propriety or otherwise of Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, coming as it did in direct competition with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech. Apart from the people, if anybody had to criticize Modi’s speech, it was Modi’s political opponents. What exactly was the reason for Advani to don the role reserved for Modi/BJP’s political opponents? Why did he criticize Modi? Over the past 65 years, several Prime Ministers have delivered Independence Day speeches as a tradition. And the Opposition and the people of India have tolerated these speeches. But let’s be honest: has any good come out of these speeches, of this tradition? Or has the country suffered any loss because Modi delivered a speech on August 15? The world’s powerful democracy, America has a tradition where the Opposition critiques the President’s Independence Day on the same day. If this is the reality, why did Advani need to behave as if Modi committed a massive blunder? And by doing this, what message did he hope to send both to the party and others?
What does all this show except revealing Advani’s pettiness?
Right in the wake of this episode, Narendra Modi’s bitter detractor, Rajdeep Sardesai wrote the following: “My 18-year-old son is a first-time voter. I asked him what he thought of Modi’s Independence Day speech and whether it was inappropriately timed. “I don’t know about the timing, but at least he spoke!” And therein hangs a tale.”” Doesn’t the BJP’s crowning leader understand the simple truth so obvious in these lines?
What’s infinitely tragic is the fact that it appears as if Advani and Sushma themselves don’t want the BJP to win 200-plus seats in the 2014 polls! The intent behind their behaviour seems to be this. This is because if the BJP gets 160-170 seats, the calculation is that Advani will stand a chance to become Prime Minister. And if Modi is stopped in his tracks, Sushma Swaraj reckons that she’d succeed Advani after his term as PM. As for Ananth Kumar, he’s fully aware that he’d stand to profit immensely if Advani becomes the PM. This then is the simple reason why they’ve ganged up against Modi.
Let’s set aside the past contributions of these worthies to the BJP and talk about their current merits and qualifications.
In 2009, inflation was hovering around 20%. People were getting fed up with the Congress. A sizeable section felt that it was a mistake to vote out Vajpayee. There was also widespread anger against black money. However, did Lal Krishna Advani convert this anger against Congress into votes for the BJP? Forget that. The BJP’s existing tally of 136 dropped drastically down to 116! Besides, his stint as Home and Deputy Prime Minister wasn’t marked by any major accomplishment. On the contrary, the Akshardham attack, the Parliament attack, the 16 soldiers killed by Bangladesh, the release of Peter Bleach, the Kandahar episode…all of these happened under Advani’s watch. He never distinguished himself as an able administrator during the six long years he ruled. And what does he have to show for the nine years that he’s been the Leader of Opposition? Let’s take the Monsoon Session of the Parliament: he derailed the proceedings till the end of the month by holding the Parliament hostage and when only a week remained for the session to end, the selfsame Advani along with Sushma, Ananth and Arun helped the Congress pass all the bills. The question naturally arises: under whose direction is he acting? Thanks to such behaviour, the BJP is now stuck with the label of being an obstructionist party while the nation-wrecking Congress party, which is determined to annihiliate India’s economy by passing the Food Security Bill is praised as the messiah of the poor! Between the two of them, the Congress and the BJP have entered into a cozy arrangement of behaviour in Parliament whereby one pretends to slap the other and the other pretends to weep. In the same Devil’s Advocate program, Arun Shourie also remarked to Karan Thapar that “We should recognise that what happens in Parliament is most often a drama. It is a well rehearsed, staged planned drama. You will shout, I will shout, the Speaker in 5 minutes will say ok adjourned till 12:30.” This is the real reason people have completely lost trust in the central leadership of the BJP and want Narendra Modi’s decisive leadership at the Centre. It is why they want him as the Prime Minister.
Even if we forget all this, a crucial question still remains: when Robert Vadra massive fraud came to light, this Delhi-4 didn’t show the slightest spine to condemn him; so how do we trust them to lead the nation with courage and integrity? Can they issue a strong statement against the Congress? They can’t because they know that the very moment they do that, Sonia Gandhi will open their can of dirty secrets. She’ll spill out the complete details of who took how much sleaze money in the Reddy brothers case and the IPL fiasco. When KJP’s Dhananjaya Kumar openly alleged that Advani’s son used to visit Karnataka with the sole purpose of taking money, the state BJP leaders hollered from the rooftops but not one of them refuted the allegation. If such leaders really have guts, let’s see whether they can vociferously condemn Sonia Gandhi the way they do Narendra Modi.
In the run up to the 2010 Bihar polls, when the media asked why Modi isn’t campaigning in Bihar, pat came the reply from Sushma: “Modi is not the only leader,” thereby demonstrating her small-mindedness quite early in the game. And we don’t need to separately chastise Ananth Kumar who destroyed the BJP in Karnataka by repeatedly whispering into Advani’s ears. The story of how Ananth Kumar helped the Congress return to power in Karnataka by forcing Yeddyurappa out of the party was narrated in Parliament by Finance Minister, P.Chidambaram. Here’s what he said: “we are happy that Ananth Kumar played a role in the victory of Congress in Karnataka.”
And then we have Arun Jaitley, also part of Delhi-4. He might harbour Prime Ministerial ambitions but he’s basically a business-like leader and a realist. He has accurately understood the pulse of both the party workers and the people and keeping in mind the party’s future, has lent his support to Modi.
That leaves us with the three. In what direction do these three want to take nation? What’s the kind of excuses they’re spouting?
“No no! Let’s not declare Modi as the PM candidate right now! We’ll take a decision after the four states go to polls in November-December. If we declare his candidature now, the Muslims will be polarised against us. If that happens, it might adversely impact the party.” Speak the truth: since Independence, has there been any election where Muslims have not been polarised? has there been any poll where Muslims haven’t voted en masse for a particular party? If this is the historical reality, is there even any sense in claiming that Muslims would be polarised if Modi is declared the PM candidate? On the contrary, if Modi is indeed declared the PM candidate, there is every chance that for the first time since Independence, the Hindus would vote as a block. Every survey shows that Modi’s solid record of development has touched the heart of every youth across the nation, which in turn has veered their votes in his favour.
In the past, issues like terrorism, separatism, and anti-nationalist activities were restricted to border areas like Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, and so on. Today, as we can see, this danger is openly visible in every corner of India. We don’t even need to read them in newspapers to learn about them. They’re visible, right before our eyes. In Modi, people see a strong leader who’s capable of wiping out this danger, and under whose leadership they feel secure. In fact, this can provide the BJP with another kind of polarisation. Can the minority polarisation stand a chance before this kind of polarisation? Today, if the nationwide tidal wave of anger against the Congress is swerving towards the BJP, the reason is the people’s faith and hope in its (yet undeclared) Prime Ministerial candidate named Narendra Damodardas Modi. Today, apart from Modi, do you see any other politician who speaks a language comprising such things as defence budget, defence production, manufacturing…and the staggering number of jobs it’ll create? Have you even by mistake heard Advani, Sushma and Ananth speak this language? This is the reason Arun Shourie says that under Modi’s leadership, it won’t be a surprise if the BJP manages to win even 230 seats.
The Sangh which has understood this needs to declare Modi as the PM candidate as soon as possible. Else, both the party and the nation will pay dearly owing to the Advani-Ananth-Sushma cabal. As Cicero says, it is the internal enemies who are more dangerous than the external ones.”