Is BJP still confused about Anna Hazre?
The BJP is back to hair-splitting on what’s the party’s stand vis-a-vis Anna Hazre and his war against corruption.
First, it took serious proddings from the RSS and threat by senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and a bunch of MPs to quit to force the party to adopt a more pro-Anna Hazre line.
Later, young MPs like Varun Gandhi openly voiced support for Hazre in the Lok Sabha.
After Hazre called off his fast, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari swung the other extreme, much to the suprise of his senior leaders –he declared that the BJP would “march” under his leadership in the war against corruption.
In between the swings, BJP leaders and cadres were scratching their heads to decipher whether they stood to gain by the fortnight-long stand-off at Ramlila Maidan last month, which caught the attention of every sleaze-stricken Indian.
Adding to their confusion was a STAR News-Nielsen survey conducted across 28 cities, which claimed — after Anna ended his fast – that the BJP would garner 32 per cent of the votes across the country if elections were held tomorrow, while the Congress would manage only 20 per cent.
In fact, the survey claimed, the BJP has turned out to be the most favoured party across all regions – 40:27 in the north; 20:15 in the east, and 46:15 in the west – barring the south, where 20 per cent respondents still prefer the Congress, while 16 per cent prefer the BJP.
But BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley did not believe the survey.
Striking a different note, Jaitley went on to make it clear that the BJP supports Anna only as a symbol in battle against corruption but does not accept his political leadership. This has upset other BJP leaders again.
“It’s not an acceptance of a new party leader. He’s not in party politics…He doesn’t accept my party, we have not accepted his political leadership. But in the battle of corruption, he has become a symbol and there is no difficulty at all in honouring him on that,” Jaitley said in an interview to a television news channel.
Jaitley was reacting to Gadkari’s statement a week ago, after Hazare called of his fast that BJP will always be ready to rally around Hazare and that his party was ready to march under his leadership if the need arose to fulfill the Gandhian’s dream of a corruption-free India.
Jaitley said he felt the reference by Gadkari was to the anti-corruption movement and the remarks made by the BJP president were metaphorical. “It’s not a movement of political parties, it’s even unlike the JP movement.
“Therefore, since Anna has led this movement, and I think this movement is a positive development, it’s a kind of support to the spirit of that movement,” he said.
Further, asked if senior BJP leader LK Advani had committed BJP to the original Jan Lokpal Bill, he said that at the meeting with Team Anna, both sides had moderated their positions.
“They moderated their position, we moderated our position and our positions became extremely close to each other. And I think the fact that supporting them on those issues became clear. And when Sushma Swaraj and I moved resolutions in both Houses of Parliament for a vote, we had all those 9 ingredients, the major ingredients on which we agree with them as a part of that resolution. And, they supported it, we supported those 9 points,” Jaitley said.
Hazare’s aide Kiran Bedi had claimed that her ‘ghunghat’ act was a game changer because Advani had called her up after that and assured her that BJP would support the Jan Lokpal.
But Gadkari was not happy with Jaitely’s remarks, which appeared to dilute the BJP’s line as well as the RSS’ direction.
So, Gadkari sent a letter to the Prime Minister, which was released to the media on Sunday, saying that “It seems a witchhunt has been unleashed against some members of Team Anna like Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, Baba Ramdev and his charitable institutions as well as those who acted as whistleblowers in the cash-for-vote case.”
Also, BJP general secretary and chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad registered his difference of opinion over the privilege move against Team Anna members by some MPs. Toeing the RSS line, Prasad said the MPs needed being large-hearted and magnanimous. They did not need to get provoked by uncharitable comments from civil society members, he added. He said, “The reputation of an MP is not secured by privilege motions, but by the power of public opinion.” “The testimony of public opinion,” according to him, “is the real staple of a politician.”