Monday, November 21, 2011

What Congress did to George Fernandes in 2001, BJP wants to do to Chidambaram in 2011

Congress was the main opposition party when's sting, Operation Westend, showed Jaya Jaitley, accepting Rs 2 lakh from a pseudo-arms dealer, for the Samata Party, a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), in the house of then defence minister George Fernandes. Jaya Jaitley asks the dealers to hand over the money to partyman Srinivas Prasad, and explains it will be useful for the party's conference at Bangalore. She says that she will tell 'Saab' but adds that ultimately it will depend on the quality of the stuff. But she she says she will speak. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Bangaru Laxman accepting Rs 10 lakh again on camera and without too much explanation. Laxman resigned. Fernandes too resigned some days later. Vajpayee went on television and said there will be an investigation. Congress insisted on a joint parliamentary committee (JPC). BJP-led NDA set up the Ramasamy commission of inquiry. Jaswant Singh who took over as defense minister set up the B.G.Verghese committee to formulate a procurement policy for defense purchases. When Fernandes was brought back as defense minister, Congress began to boycott him. On the day Fernandes had to answer questions in Lok Sabha, the entire Congress would stage a walkout. So, it went on.

Unlike Operation Westend, which was a sting and just hinted at how arms purchases were made but there was no real transaction, the controversy erupted over the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) conclusion that there was a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the allocation of 2G spectrum when A. Raja of Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) was telecommunication minister. Raja stepped down. Supreme Court in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the deal. CBI swung into action, arrested Raja, telecom honchos whose companies got the licences, and DMK MP Kanimozhi for her suspected involvement.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy, president of Janata Party, had been pursuing the 2G spectrum case on his own, and he has been seeking action against home minister P.Chidambaram. He has filed a petition seeking documents from the CBI to prove his case against the home minister. Supreme Court has allowed that. Meanwhile, the BJP too believes that Chidambaram is as involved in the so-called 2G spectrum scam. BJP leaders are not willing to show their cards and reveal the sources of information for the case against Chidambaram which is the case with Swami. The BJP and Swami appear to be pursuing their case against Chidambaram each on their own, though there is suspicion that BJP is using the information that Swami is obtaining through his petitions in the court, and that even BJP is providing him enough dope against Chidambaram. If confronted, both Swami and BJP are most likely to decline and deny that they are corroborating in building a case against Chidambaram. But it is clear that the BJP wants to nail Chidambaram in the political arena, and Swami wants to catch him out through the legal dragnet.

Now the BJP has come up with its latest anti-Chidambaram gambit, to boycott the minister in parliament and to press their demand that Chidambaram should step down as home minister because BJP believes that he is involved in the 2G spectrum case. The BJP is not willing to wait till the court says so.

There is a strong political motivation for the BJP to defame and defang Chidambaram. While the main opposition party wants to settle scores with the Congress on the boycott of Fernandes, the party also wants to target the home minister as a way of derailing Congress party. The Congress has been ducking criticism saying that it the DMK members who are involved in the 2G spectrum case. The BJP needs a big Congress name to score a victory in the propaganda war.

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