By attacking the late Brajesh Mishra, India’s first National Security Adviser (NSA) and principal secretary to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy is seeking to distance the present National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government from its earlier avatar. Swamy has accused Mishra of being hand in glove with the Congress and that was the reason “the UPA awarded him with the second highest award of the country after Bharat Ratna. I am suggesting that he was a Congress bug, a cat’s paw. He was Congress’s Trojan horse. Even as he was the NSA, he worked for the Congress party”, Swamy stated in an interview to a TV channel.
Swamy had made similar comments in the Upper House during a debate on the Agusta Westland deal, where he seemed to give the impression that the Modi dispensation was not interested in endorsing each initiative taken by the earlier NDA government and definitely not the one which concerned changing some of the conditionalities of Helicopters to be acquired for VVIP movement. In this respect, he was critical of Mishra as well as others who handled the proposals both during the Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh periods, while concurrently demanding the prosecution of those who were paid huge bribes by the Italian company.
Swamy’s interventions and participation in the deliberations on the Agusta Westland scam caused fireworks in the Upper House, where Congress leaders, who normally choose to maintain a low profile, also attacked the BJP-led government for carrying out a political vendetta through unsubstantiated charges. Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, who rarely speaks in the Rajya Sabha, challenged the government to prove the allegations against him and vowed to give up public life and his Parliament membership if a linkage was established.
Many BJP leaders and functionaries were taken aback with Swamy’s assault on Mishra, which obliquely has been construed in political circles as an attack on the former Prime Minister, who led the first government headed by a non Congressman at the Centre. It is a well documented fact that Swamy has had several differences with Vajpayee in the past and their mutual disregard for each other dates back to the Janata Party days. However, it could never have been thought that in attempting to pin down the Congress and its top brass for their alleged complicity in the helicopter scam, the newly nominated MP would demonstrate absolute disrespect for the ailing former PM and his judgement in picking Mishra as his key aide. Vajpayee was the tallest BJP leader of his time, despite being accused of being a Congress lackey by his adversaries including the late Acharya Kripalani and Balraj Madhok, who described him as “Nehru’s mole in the Sangh”. Swamy, by implication, has thus indicted him and since he cannot directly slam him, he has chosen a soft target in Mishra.
Mishra was central to the running of the Vajpayee government and A.S. Dulat, a former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and an insider, in his book, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years has mentioned that it was he who was in charge of administration while the Prime Minister looked after the political dimensions of the government. According to Dulat, Vajpayee and Mishra had a perfect chemistry, which turned into the secret of success of the first NDA government.
Therefore, Swamy’s irreverence for Vajpayee and his colleagues, is perhaps, meant to convey a strong message to people both within the BJP and the Congress that the present government was not going to be in any manner influenced by the arrangements, if any, that existed between top functionaries of the two parties in the past and consequently was determined to pursue its own agenda. In the present case, there would be no let-up in the heat on those whose names figure in the 225-page judgement of the Milan Court of Appeals and those who either benefited or facilitated the helicopter deal. In other words, it is a declaration that the previous style of NDA functioning was by no means the model for the present government. In the absence of any contradiction from either the BJP or the government, it is presumed that Swamy’s assertions have the tacit approval of the high command.
The change of tactics by the BJP as interpreted through the prism of Swamy’s actions and utterances is that no one in the present regime would be permitted to shield the culprits in any corruption scam and niceties had their own place, but politics was a completely different ball game.
Therefore, there should be no expectation of leniency from the Modi government and those who have cheated the country would have to pay for their actions. In the process, Swamy has sent a clear signal to the bureaucracy that any delay on their part in acting on complaints or cases would not be taken lightly by the government and the second edition of the NDA rule meant business.
There is nothing unusual in the way things are unfolding as every regime has its own pattern of working and functional symbols. Successive Congress governments too have differed in sum and substance from each other. Thus the Modi government is not going to be a replica of the first NDA government, but would find its own path. Between us