The drama of three BJP MPs emptying a bag of currency notes worth Rs 1 crore on the table of the Lok Sabha four hours before the PM won the trust vote had just one purpose. It was to convey with stunning effect what LK Advani said after the vote – that the UPA may have won the numbers game but not a moral victory.
The BJP had to regain the Opposition space it thought had been hijacked by UP Chief Minister Mayawati after the UNPA and the Left propped up her up as the face of the new front against the Congress.
This prompted the BJP leaders to give the green signal on Monday evening after many “doubtful” MPs had trooped into Advani’s room in Parliament House to pledge loyalty.
Advani spoke to chief ministers of BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan who were put on high alert as the MPs from these states were the most “vulnerable”. State intelligence men were also on the the MPs’ trail. Party strategists did not want another MP to be “displayed” by SP leader Amar Singh after Brij Bhushan Saran Singh had walked over on Sunday.
The BJP leaders wanted the “means” that were allegedly employed to win over Opposition MPs — at least 7 BJPs MPs cross-voted — to be captured on tape for the next phase of the Opposition’s campaign.
In fact, a day earlier, outside Advani’s room, BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley hinted to some journalists that “the government floor managers should be warned against getting bad image if somebody were to do a sting”. Whether anyone took that hint is an open question but a BJP leader had disclosed that many party MPs were asked to keep a watch on their colleagues. Ashok Argal was one of them.
Therefore, when the House plunged into pandemonium after the BJP MPs displayed the currency notes, there was glee that the “mission” had been accomplished.
By the end of the day, even Mayawati, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu and Left leaders Prakash Karat and A.B. Bardhan had to acknowledge that the BJP’s ‘sting’ was a “sad day” for Indian democracy.