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Corruption taint – Is the BJP losing the plot ?




There is a huge groundswell against the Congress for the past couple of years (or more) because of the corruption that seems endemic in today’s society, with the biggest scams and scandals being exposed in the past few years. These scams, combined with global problems, and the policy paralysis that has been in place for the past 2-3 years, has resulted in a worsening economic condition of the country; and to add to all this has been a high inflation rate. All of these results in an angry population, especially the younger generation who want economic growth, and jobs. The situation was ripe for the picking, and the BJP has been able to draw many percentage points in terms of increased vote share, which in turn has resulted in many state elections going their way. And then the BJP picked Modi (or rather, he pushed his own way to the front based on a stronger projection of growth rates in Gujarat) as their Prime Ministerial candidate, and he has been pushing for a development focused approach to the elections, and leaving behind all the Hindutva talk (except right in the beginning, when he conveyed his stand as a Hindutva nationalist) in rallies all across the nation. Combined with a slick campaign, Modi has been able to move a groundswell in support, pushing towards a development focus, and slowly and steadily removing the untouchable element away from him.
However, there is an important question in all this, which can decide the future of the campaign. This question is about whether the votes are in favor of Modi, or are they anti-corruption, anti-Congress votes that Modi has been able to harness ? This is a significant question. There are many pointers to this question – first was the elections to Karnataka, where the BJP Government had a horrible image because of the antics of Yeddyurappa, and the taint upon the entire BJP in the state. This was an election that the BJP lost comprehensively. In the other states that went to the polls such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chattisgarh, the BJP defeated a seemingly corrupt Congress Government and also used its own agenda of development to win in the other 2 states. The shock was in Delhi, where the strident anti-corruption campaign of Kejriwal decimated the Congress, and also stopped the BJP. Even though the BJP still came at the number one position, there was a realization that it could not be politics as usual, which is why it did not try to form the Government.
However, the BJP currently seems to think that it is on a roll, on an unstoppable movement. It is starting to resemble a movement where the ego levels are rising higher and higher, and this is where it is making a mistake. It needs allies, both for getting closer to the half way mark, and also to show to other potential allies that the BJP and Modi are not untouchable. And this is where it is making mistakes, slowly making itself more susceptible to being attacked on corruption levels. Already Kejriwal is hitting Modi again and again on his association with Adani and Ambani, and some of those hits will stick; especially come April 1 when gas prices rise and it would seem that Modi was complicit in this. Look at the recent alliances that the BJP is making, or is looking to make. Except for the alliance with Raju Shetty’s SSS in Maharashtra, there are problems with all of their allies.
In Tamil Nadu, it is still respectable, since their alliance with the DMDK is with an opportunist, the equivalent of Ram Vilas Paswan or Ajit Singh, a party who can form an alliance with any other party. The talks that Nitn Gadkari had with Raj Thackeray not only put off Uddhav Thackeray, but would also have been surprising for those who detest the Raj formula of hate mongering and violence. And in Karnataka, not only was Yeddyurappa sharing the stage with Modi, but apparently the Reddy brothers (of Bellary and illegal mining fame are seeking to re-enter the BJP). In Bihar, the tie up with Ram Vilas Paswan may seemed to make political sense, but there is nothing similar between the 2 parties, and was shocking when announced. Paswan is part of the leaders from UP and Bihar who play the poor or caste card and make wealth for themselves and have corruption cases against them. And yet it does not end.
In Haryana, the news is that they will do a deal with Vinod Sharma (the father of Manu Sharma of ‘No one killed Jessica Lal’ fame), the same man who was famous for using all his connections and money to warp and twist judicial proceedings to get his son out of jail. This deal would involve Vinod Sharma leaving the Congress and joining the Janhit Congress, which is an ally of the BJP. And why not directly join the BJP ? Because that would lead to a taint on the BJP that it wants to avoid – but really, does it consider people to be stupid ? And there are talks that if the Chautalas manage to get a reprieve from their corruption conviction, they could become an ally of the BJP.
One wonders whether the BJP has really thought all of this through ? Or is that they believe that they are so far ahead that they can do all this, and not worry about the corruption taint ? If the BJP needs to win, they need to think this through, before some of the taint that is on the Congress also hits them.




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