The relentless artillery fire from the Opposition against the NDA government over what has now come to be dubbed Lalitgate was only to be expected.
Two weeks after disgraced IPL czar Lalit Modi revealed that the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj intervened with the British authorities on his behalf and that Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje had clandestinely supported his immigration application when she was leader of the opposition, the pressure on the government has not let up at all.
The Prime Minister, normally never short of words, has been uncharacteristically silent, giving the Opposition even more ammunition. But what should really trouble the BJP is that criticism of both the oblique and direct kind is coming from within its own parivar.
The first to fire a shot over the bow was the party patriarch LK Advani who referred to his own resignation when implicated in the hawala scam. He also spoke at length on probity in public life, something that is clearly not being observed in the Swaraj and Raje case.
Then came a direct attack from RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya who said both ladies must resign forthwith. The party’s claim that the top leadership did not give Ms Raje an audience when she came to attend the Niti Aayog meeting hardly absolves it of any blame.
The party clearly hopes, and this was reiterated by its spokesmen on television, that the whole issue will blow over and that the media will find some other bone of contention.
But, the unhappiness within the parivar is not something the party can wish away. In Ms Raje’s case, it would also appear that her son and MP Dushyant is involved in financial impropriety in his dealings with Lalit Modi.
All these must be thoroughly investigated and not swept under the carpet as is being done now. The BJP has gone to extraordinary lengths to prolong its inaction.
From coming out with a three-step definition of corruption to saying that both Swaraj and Raje were acting in their personal capacities, the party has tried all avenues of obfuscation.
But as the Opposition sharpens the attack and those within its own rank and file are expressing unhappiness, the party’s leadership is finding itself more and more cornered.
The monsoon session of Parliament is not very far off and unless this issue is resolved, that will be a wash-out.
With that many vital legislation will also be put on hold.
We cannot afford that again. Procrastination really is proving to be the thief of time.