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Overdoing the guilt

The BJP should know better than to behave like an 80s-style trade union. Its handling of the Amit Shah case isn’t helpful for the party. Far from it.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2010 00:10 IST

The BJP should know better than to behave like an 80s-style trade union. The latest ruckus over the charges levelled against former Gujarat Minister of State for Home Amit Shah by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not only shows a staggering inability of the main opposition party of the country to play it by the rules of parliamentary democracy, but even as pure politics, the BJP has made it unnecessarily easy for everyone to come to his or her own conclusions about both Mr Shah and his all-too-faithful party. The CBI issued summons last week to Mr Shah after charging him with murder in connection with the alleged fake ‘encounter’ of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and the death of Sheikh’s wife Kauserbi. This isn’t, by any stretch of the law — and by the CBI’s own track record — a proverbial nail in anyone’s proverbial coffin. But by showing all the signs of being ‘temporarily absconding’, Mr Shah hasn’t helped matters. And by reacting as if Mr Shah has already been drawn and quartered by the CBI, the BJP has made a mountain out of a molehill.

It’s not our case to suggest that the BJP should have turned and rolled over to the charges made against one of its men. Whether Mr Shah’s supporters — or detractors — believe this to be “politically motivated” by the Congress-led government at the Centre is a matter of politics that hardly required the flurry and the fury, not to mention the drama, that’s been generated. A simple denial and the willingness to let the law — and no one else — come to its own conclusions would have done the needful. What matters is not whether

Mr Shah is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘trusted man’ (thereby already polarising the issue) or the gravity of the charges against him, but whether the courts of the land are provided enough evidence to prove Mr Shah’s guilt. Again, the CBI has its work cut out for it.

Instead, what we saw was the hysteria usually associated with anti-democratic elements such as the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, loudmouths who have as much to do with the BJP as an agit-prop mob has to do with mature political parties represented in Parliament. The same display of ‘over-the-topness’ took place when two BJP ministers of state in the Karnataka government were simply accused of corruption. If the BJP can’t make out the difference between an ‘accusation’ and a ‘verdict’, what message is it sending out to the rest of us who still know that being accused of a crime is not the same as being a criminal? Let the CBI bring its end of the ‘presentation’ to the table. If

Mr Shah and his party has nothing to be afraid of, they should stop behaving like guilty parties.