Nothing underlines hypocrisy better than when the shoe is on the other foot. When an anti-corruption campaigner who is waving the national flag for the Lok Pal bill (Kiran Bedi) is found to have fudged travel bills, or her compatriot (Shanti Bhushan) is charged of evading stamp duty of over a crore of rupees, it convinces even the most optimistic cynic in the Republic that hamaam mein sab nange hain.
And so it is with the BJP.
For months, actually for well over a year and a half, the so-called main opposition “party with a difference” at the Centre has feasted on the torrent of corruption scandals raining in on the Congress-led UPA government; its spokespersons sitting on the high moral pedestal offered by nightly television and holding forth self-righteously, like angels in the augean stables.
The “former future prime minister of India” L.K. Advani, even went on a self-serving yatra, with the Hudco-scam tainted H.N. Ananth Kumar (whose links with Niira Radia is now legend) as his navigator. That the BJP was doing all this grandstanding even while B.S. Yediyurappa and other members of his outstanding cabinet were burning the candle of corruption at both ends was pure irony.
Now, the shoe is on the other foot once again, with a fullblown crisis having erupted in Uttar Pradesh over the BJP’s induction of scam-tainted former BSP minister, Babu Singh Khushwaha, into its ranks. This, even while the party boycotts Union home minister P. Chidambaram in Parliament on the 2G scam issue. The point here is not the BJP’s selective blindness to corruption—that is every party’s weakness—rather, it is the BJP’s response to it.
Uma Bharati has raised a banner of revolt against Khushwaha’s inclusion threatening to stop campaigning for the party in UP; her close friend Yogi Adityanath has said he will quit the party; party luminaries like Maneka Gandhi and Kirti Azad have spoken out; and the party’s central leadership is said to be vertically split over Khushwaha’s inclusion reportedly engineered by party chief Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, et al.
The RSS is reported to have stepped into the picture and warned against accommodating the corrupt, and all indications are that Khushwaha will be dropped like a hot potato.
So, here is the question, notwithstanding the fact that Uma Bharati too is an OBC leader. How is it that vocal sections of the BJP and RSS find a voice against corruption only when Dalits (like Bangaru Laxman) or backward class leaders (like Khushwaha) are caught in a scam? Why was it absent when Yediyurappa (a Lingayat) was bringing such ignominy to the party, or when other upper caste members like Pramod Mahajan (a Brahmin) were not exactly smelling of roses?
Is the BJP casteist on a secular issue such as corruption?