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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 26, New Delhi June 20, 2015

‘Modigate’, BJP, Advani

Saturday 20 June 2015, by SC


Corruption has now raised its ugly head in the present ruling party as details of the close connections of that celebrated fugitive evading questioning by the Enforcement Directorate, Lalit Modi, with a senior member in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and a noted Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, of BJP-ruled Rajasthan have come out in the open. And this has happened shortly after the Modi Government completed its one-year rule proudly claiming that corruption and mega-scandals that had severely affected its predecessor could not touch it in any way. Indeed the latest developments relating to ‘Modigate’ have only brought out the utter hollowness of that claim beyond any shadow of doubt.

The revelations, among them the External Affairs Minister’s solo efforts to help Lalit Modi secure travel documents (to enable him to be near his cancer-stricken wife hospitalised in Portugal), keeping senior officials of her Ministry, including the then Foreign Secretary, in the dark, expose dubious links alongwith serious conflicts of interest.

In this situation the Congress has been prompt to jump into the fray and pay back the BJP-led NDA in its own coin. After all, the BJP leaders had done everything possible to paralyse the Manmohan Singh Government by focussing on several multicrore scams that had dealt heavy blows on the then ruling UPA’s credibility. It is payback time for the Congress now. While party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has accused Narendra Modi of shielding his namesake cooling his heels in the UK, the Congress as an organisation has demanded a Supreme Court-monitored SIT inquiry into the evolving drama which has shocked the BJP leaders, including leading government functionaries, into silence. And when they expressed themselves breaking their silence, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did the other day, the Congress was quick to point out that Jaitley’s defence of Sushma was actually a proof of her guilt thereby further embarra-ssing the ruling party.

In the circumstances the usually garrulous PM’s unusual silence gives a measure of the crisis facing the BJP.

The ruling party is definitely in a tight corner. And its patriarch, L.K. Advani, nursing a deeply-felt grouse that he was rudely cold-shouldered by the present PM, has, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of the infamous Emergency, expressed the apprehension that things can again take that kind of turn (as in June 1975) in the days ahead. In his words:

If the Emergency could happen with so many of us being there (who were opposed to it), I don’t rule it out totally in the future. I don’t think the last word on this has been said. Of course, no one can do it easily, because of the experience we have had in 1975-77. But that it cannot happen again—I will not say that. It could be that fundamental liberties are curtailed again.

The legal structural safeguards in the Constitution and the law were in place even earlier—yet the Emergency happened. There aren’t enough safeguards in India in 2015.

The words, carefully chosen, are pregnant with meaning.

June 18 S.C.