It is politically significant that the Bharatiya Janata Party has managed to put itself on the path to recovery within a year of being all but written off. With miseries coming in a pack through 2009, the principal Opposition party battled existential questions at this time last year. Consider what it was up against: two general election defeats in a row, the lowest Lok Sabha tally in two decades, personality clashes compounded by ideological confusion, and a succession war only partly stemmed by the arrival of the underestimated Nitin Gadkari. But all this might have been an eternity ago, judging by the signature aggression on display at the recent national executive meet in Guwahati — which concluded with the party announcing corruption as its main poll plank. It is not a coincidence that the BJP has recovered its sense of purpose at a time when the Congress Party, beset by scam and scandal, is fighting with its back to the wall. Indeed, it is plain enough that the ruling party has offered the issue on a platter to its main rival.
For the BJP, the opportunity presented itself when the Manmohan Singh government, already in all manner of trouble over corruption in the Commonwealth Games, akratically refused to heed the united Opposition’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee enquiry into the 2G spectrum irregularities. The BJP astutely assumed leadership of the pro-JPC agitation in Parliament, taking care to ensure that the target of Opposition attack was none other than the “untainted” Manmohan Singh. Since then the First Family has come directly under fire — thanks to Bofors returning in the form of a damning order of the Income-Tax Appellate Tri-bunal. What more can the Congress Party’s principal adversaries ask for? On the face of it, it is an ironic reversal of fortunes between the two main parties in the political system. Yet the BJP has a long way to go before it can truly challenge the Congress Party, not least because of its own track record of stonewalling corruption charges in Karnataka. In contrast to Union Telecom Minister A. Raja, who was asked to resign pending investigation into the 2G scam, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddy-urappa has dug in his heels in the face of irrefutable evidence of wrongdoing. To the mortification of BJP votaries, there is growing evidence on the involvement of extremist Hindutva elements in some terrorist bombings. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that the BJP’s former allies are not exactly queuing up to return to the National Democratic Alliance — this despite the party’s impressive showing in the Bihar assembly election, where it outscored Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United). The BJP hopes that a popular mood swing of the kind that Bofors brought about in the late-1980s against the government of Rajiv Gandhi can be achieved against the coalition regime of Dr. Manmohan Singh by a focused campaign on the 2G spectrum scam and other corruption scandals. We must wait and see if history will be repeated.
Courtesy: The Hindu