Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jaswant paid the price for not being Advani

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Two leaders, same party, same offence but different verdicts.
Confusing and absurd it may sound but that's exactly what the BJP did by expelling Jaswant Singh from the party for praising Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Interestingly BJP co-founder Lal Krishna Advani had escaped any such expulsion for making similar comments on the Founder of Pakistan about four years ago. Advani though had to resign as the president of the party but was not outcast like Singh has been done in this case.

There are questions as to why BJP has followed double standards in the two cases. Reasons for BJP doing so are many, first Advani had made this comment four years ago after the defeat in 2004 Lok Sabha polls which many thought Congress had won by fluke. Compared to that BJP is in complete disarray in 2009 after going down to the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls. Hindutva ideology driven politics is again coming back in the BJP which was trying to create a 'acceptable to all' image in 2005.

The second and the most important reason Jaswant Singh did not get party's mercy like Advani did was because he was no Advani in the first place. Expelling Advani would have meant doomsday for the BJP as he and Vajpayee were the pillars of the party. They had founded it from the ashes of Jana Sangh. Unlike Advani, Jaswant Singh had no mass appeal and was never a leader who could convert public rallies into votes. 'If Jaswant Singh was a politician in BJP, Advani was politics to the party.'
A third reason could have been the way Jaswant went about with his interpretation of the partition and Jinnah's secular image. What Jaswant did wrong was he did not limit himself to praising Jinnah but also went into the turbulent territory of criticising Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The BJP is infuriated over the mention of Patel's name, one of the biggest names after Gandhi in Gujarat and an icon for the Sangh parivaar.

But the expulsion of a leader who had served the party for 30 years will definitely have an impact on the BJP which seems to be a completely divided house. Having served in the capacities of Finance Minister, Defence Minister and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh by no means in an easily replaceable leader. In a party which is in complete disarray firing a senior leader for his thoughts in his book is not too easy to digest.


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