Ahead of Bihar polls, jitters in BJP camp2 min read
NEW DELHI: The ruling party has remained officially silent even four days after the controversy broke over foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s help to Lalit Modi in getting travel documents in UK, dragging into the storm Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for similar “impropriety”.
With two top party netas at the centre of the biggest row to hit the Modi government, the talk within the party has grown into an incessant chatter of low morale and a sense of uncertainty.
The day began with party leaders querying each other “what is happening” and “will both Raje and Swaraj have to quit… maybe if attacks continue”. The exchanges were guarded, a leader saying, “It is damaging but if no further charges come up, government might save the day before Parliament’s Monsoon session.”
One neta said, “Raje is already trying to assess her strength, whether 110 MLAs are ready to go with her” while another suggested, “Swaraj would have benefitted had she quit the day the news broke, and taken the high moral ground.” Many were worried about “why the PM has not spoken yet”. A Modi loyalist’s take was, “I feel till International Yoga Day, nothing will happen. After that, the PM will act.” How “RSS has stayed aloof” was also up for discussion.
There’s fear among those involved with the Bihar elections that “it could have a negative impact for BJP”, while others rued how “government’s image has been hit”. One line of thought is that the row has made it “difficult” for government to consider a joint sitting for the land Bill.
BJP president Amit Shah had defended Swaraj for her “Indian helping Indian” act and ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar had followed suit.
But the party has stayed away from defending Raje yet. A source said Swaraj had clarified matters immediately but Raje is yet to issue any clarification. BJP spokespersons have avoided TV debates and giving sound bites, holding forth on International Yoga Day instead.