It’s bad enough when the main opposition party of the nation loses its political equilibrium. It becomes downright scary when it shows all the signs of losing its mental equilibrium too. Sushma Swaraj is no political spring chicken. So it comes as a shock to hear the deputy leader of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha publicly state that the terrorist attacks in Bangalore and Ahmedabad appear to be a plot to win over Muslim votes which got diverted after the “pro-American deal pursued by the government”. Is she being serious? It is one thing to find loose cannons like Balasaheb Thackeray or Praveen Togadia making unsavoury and unfounded comments like this; it’s quite another when the chairperson of the BJP’s 2009 general elections campaign committee makes such a rant.
Is Ms Swaraj’s ‘outburst’ a symptom of the BJP’s condition? It certainly looks like the ‘party with a difference’ is clutching at straws — any straws — to stay afloat. The BJP-led NDA has already decided that it will block pro-reforms legislations if the UPA tables them in Parliament. This seems like a repeat of what the party did during the recent trust vote: oppose issues of national interest just for the sake of opposing them. There are certainly many ways in which the BJP can play a proactive role as an oppositional party. Issues like national security in the wake of terror attacks is an area where the BJP can go to town by questioning the yawning gaps in a post-Pota regime. Debating economic reforms, too, could be dealt with at the ‘nuts and bolts’ level, rather than the sweeping and churlish manner which the BJP prefers. After all, many of the reforms have the mark of the previous government on them.
Our worry is that the BJP, till yesterday a much more level-headed opposition than the Left, is following the communists down the primrose path of illogical and harmful opposition. The parallel becomes more acute when we notice that the two BJP-ruled governments in Karnataka and Gujarat have kept their sanity intact and not indulged in a political ‘Centre-state’ pie-fight. The BJP will do well to return to its role as a mature, responsible opposition, instead of flailing about like a party that is desperately short of ideas and will do anything not to drown.