It qualifies as one of the biggest understatements about recent political developments. The BJP says that the arrest of former Karnataka chief minister BS Yed-dyurappa for his involvement in several land scams was a “bad day” for the party. The former chief minister, who is now in hospital after complaining of the by now all too familiar political affliction of chest pain, is awaiting a decision on his bail application. At the same time, to add to the BJP’s dark days, Gujarat Indian Police Service officer Sanjiv Bhatt has been granted bail by the Ahmedabad sessions court despite the state government’s opposition to it. The senior police officer has been in jail since September 30 for having allegedly forced a police constable to sign an affidavit that indicts the state government for its complicity in the 2002 communal riots. As this drama plays out, the BJP’s iron man LK Advani is ironically on a yatra against corruption. While the saffron party may go blue in the face saying that the yatra has nothing to do with the developments in Karnataka, it does take the sheen off a move which was meant to have pushed the government to the ropes.
The transparency and accountability which the BJP has justifiably been seeking of the central government seems resoundingly lacking in its own ranks. It is true that the party finally removed Mr Yeddyurappa who went kicking and screaming when his continuance in office became untenable. But in caving in to his demand that a person of his choice be installed as chief minister, the party negated what would have been an exemplary step. Similarly, the party has been unable or unwilling to call Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi into account for his role in the riots. That Mr Modi cares little for the party leadership was clear in his staying away from its important executive meet and his refusal to allow Mr Advani to begin his yatra from the state.
This was the perfect time for the BJP to pitch itself as a foil to the Congress. Instead, it is busy battling its own demons, most of them of its own making, rather than trip up the government. Its half-hearted attempt to make common cause with Team Anna too does not seem to have worked with the maverick leader trying to dissociate himself from both the BJP and RSS. If the party really wants the voters to believe that it wants to usher in an era of clean politics, it would do well to tell its partymen to stop trying to make a martyr of Mr Yeddyurappa. And also stop giving clean chits to Mr Modi while the case is still on. If the party does not seriously rethink its strategy against corruption, what has been just a bad day so far could turn out to be bad weeks, even months.