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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 28 New Delhi July 4, 2015

Lalitgate and Vyapam: Whither BJP?

Monday 6 July 2015, by SC

EDITORIAL

Whether it was a broad hint or an unambiguous message, BJP patriarch L.K.Advani’s recollection of what he himself had done when his name cropped up in the Jain-hawala scam was sufficient indication that he desired the party leaders occupying major constitutional posts—notably those of External Affairs Minister (Sushma Swaraj) and Rajasthan Chief Minister (Vasundhara Raje)—to quit their respective offices until their names were cleared of charges of serious ethical impropriety. These persons hold far more important positions than Advani at that time; he was just an MP. Yet they are holding on to those positions like limpets even as the Lalitgate saga continues to assume a larger-than-life dimension with every passing day.

One need not delve into the details of Lalitgate that by now are well known. Even RSS ideologue Govindacharya has directly asked both the Ministers to resign from their posts forthwith.

However, as of now there is no possibility of either of them resigning: the BJP has decided to brazen out the Opposition onslaught. That is the line taken by the uncompromising PM of the day who has declined to open his mouth on such a subject like Lalitgate. As The Times of India has aptly concluded, with the ruling party adopting such an approach, the “monsoon session of Parliament faces a washout and Govindacharya’s warning — that Lalitgate will become the BJP’s equivalent of Bofors by tarnishing its image for a long time to come — could well prove prescient”.

Meanwhile the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh has assumed serious proportions. More than 40 accused and witnesses have already died under suspicious circumstances. An investigation, that started in 2O13, revealed that officers of the State’s professional exam board (or Vyapam) were rigging different tests for medical aspirants, police constables, contractual teachers and other government employees for as long as a decade. This is a fit case for a thorough CBI probe which both the State and Central governments are resisting. Now former Madhya Pradesh CM and Congress leader Digvijay Singh has moved the Supreme Court in the matter with the same demand for a CBI investigation.

The BJP has much to answer as the hollowness of its claim of incorruptibility has been exposed beyond any shadow of doubt with the above scandals getting national prominence with the passage of time even if the party leadership and the persons involved remain visibly unperturbed with the PM’s full support. But let it be clear — this strategy will cost the ruling party dearly in the long run.

July 1 S.C.