The war within the Bharatiya Janata Party is out in the open. The issue is no more about Lalit Modi but about intra party intrigue within the saffron brigade. The Lalit Modi episode is being used to essentially weaken Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s position. And unless the PM acts decisively and clears the air about the scant respect his party colleagues have shown in respect of propriety, his image of a strong leader was bound to be dented. The matter is refusing to die down since the fires are being stoked by functionaries of the Sangh Parivar. The object is to both test the Prime Minister and to push him into a corner, so that his mega image, which has been overshadowing the party and the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS) takes a hit.
Both Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje should have been given marching orders by now. Similarly, two other women, Pankaja Munde in Maharashtra and Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani should have been put on notice. Nothing of that has happened and the BJP’s credibility as well that of the Prime Minister is being questioned even by the common people.
Lalit Modi has precipitated the crisis. Objectively speaking, he is wanted for questioning in cases of financial irregularities, but no criminality against him has been established as yet. He is a suspect in wrongdoings during his tenure as the Commissioner of IPL and so are several others, who collectively took decisions during that period. They are also liable to being probed in the same manner as he is. It is the mess in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that is threatening to consume several top politicians in the country. It is, therefore, a decisive moment for the Prime Minister to clear this mess and act in a transparent manner. Whoever is guilty of violating the law of the land must not be spared. This includes Lalit Modi and others for their role in BCCI’s infringements and the two top women leaders — Swaraj and Raje in the BJP.
It is the mess in the Board of Control for Cricket in India that is threatening to consume several top politicians in the country. It is a decisive moment for the PM to act in a transparent manner. Whoever is guilty of violating the law of the land must not be spared.
Narendra Modi had come to power on the promise of providing a clean and transparent government. He had obtained a massive mandate for the BJP, which was unprecedented. In the process, he had also rubbed many others in the wrong way in his own party and the Sangh. His larger than life image had come to haunt many of his colleagues who nursed ambitions of occupying the highest office. However, they could do nothing as Modi was perceived by the cadres as the man who alone could deliver. He still is the only leader who has their complete backing.
Thirteen months is a long time in politics and though the first one year passed very well for the NDA government, with no scams coming out in public domain, the last one month has eclipsed the good impression people had of this government. The way the BJP and the Sangh have been reacting on a daily basis after Swaraj and Raje’s roles in helping Lalit Modi came to light, it appears that no one is in control. The government and the party are in a tailspin, something which they cannot afford to do. The perception is that either no one is in charge, or that those who are at the helm of affairs are finding it difficult to manage the crisis. The inexperience of the new dispensation of dealing with complex problems at the Centre is in evidence.
Narendra Modi, who proved to be a successful Chief Minister in Gujarat, is in the process of establishing himself as a successful Prime Minister too. He has the ability and the determination to go down in history as a man who has the capacity to take India to the next level. He is now facing the difficult task of extricating his government and party out of an extremely delicate situation. He does not lack either the will or political acumen. Therefore, this is an opportunity that he has to grab to put his seal of authority over which direction the party and the government would go in the future. He should certainly not demonstrate any reluctance to act at this crucial juncture.
The biggest challenge before him is how to control the domino effect of seeking the resignation of Swaraj and Raje, whose supporters are digging in their heels to indicate that they would not go down without taking down some others. Narendra Modi has to rise above various considerations and take the appropriate action against the two women leaders, as well as those he feels could embarrass the government and the party in future. The veiled threats that Raje could split the party in Rajasthan or Swaraj could spill the beans on several others should not deter him. He should always remember that people voted for him in the 2014 polls and not for anyone else in his party. Therefore it is his credibility and standing that is on the line. He should show that he is a decisive leader. Between us.