The Lalit Modi controversy may have rocked the ruling BJP, but regional political satraps have been conspicuous by their silence on the first scandal to hit the government since it stormed to power last year.
As the crisis snowballed, regional leaders such as the Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD’s Lalu Prasad, TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, the BJD’s Navin Patnaik, BSP’s Mayawati and AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa have stayed away from the growing clamour demanding the resignation of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
The reason for their deafening silence is simple: Most regional leaders are either facing corruption cases themselves or are too preoccupied with battles of political survival in different states.
For instance, the SP chief is facing a CBI probe into a disproportionate assets case and is grappling with the challenge the BJP poses to his party in Uttar Pradesh. “At this juncture, would he take a position where his political vulnerabilities can be exploited?” asked a SP leader.
With the state assembly elections looming large, RJD chief Lalu Prasad faces a similar predicament. “Prasad’s focus is on winning a maximum number of assembly seats. He does not wish to open up another front by hitting out against the central government at this stage,” a RJD leader said.
Some opposition leaders are being cautious and are waiting to see how the crisis unfolds before taking a stand.
Yadav’s bête noire and BSP leader Mayawati attacked home minister Rajnath Singh for ruling out the resignations of Raje and Swaraj on Thursday, but her party remains ambivalent about supporting the Congress demand for the resignations of the BJP leaders.
Odisha chief minister Navin Patnaik, who has a clean record, has also remained silent on the issue. “What does the BJD gain by fishing in the controversy?” asked a BJD leader.