ARINDAM CHAUDHURI | New Delhi, November 8, 2012
That Congress is digging its own grave is too apparent. That it is a party full of unbelievably corrupt is also something that is established in public perception. And that win-or-lose, Arvind Kejriwal has been the man responsible for giving the maximum dent to Congress’ image in its entire history is also established! However, what is most amusing is how, during this entire fall and fall of Congress in public perception, BJP has remained a mute spectator, gaining nothing out of the whole issue.
In fact, they have been also busy digging their own grave! Every time a state-level leader with a mass following becomes powerful in BJP and acquires a stature, the big guys in Delhi seem to be too intent to kill that rise. Look at what happened to Kalyan Singh, the low-caste leader who actually helped BJP win a majority – the first and only time – in UP. He was thrown out. Look at what happened to Uma Bharti, the lady who unseated and threw out popular Digvijay Singh from power in MP. She too was eventually thrown out. Look at how they have treated Vasundhara Raje, the lady who won them Rajasthan. She has been humiliated. Look at Yeddyurappa – conceded he has been corrupt, but he was the man who won Karnataka for the BJP… He has also been effectively thrown out. And the worst of all, look at Narendra Modi, where those are BJP leaders from Delhi who have spread rumours that he is not a fit candidate to be PM.
Strange indeed are the ways of BJP wherein Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh are the only two who seem to have understood the art of staying alive in the party by not showing their might around too much! It seems that some Delhi-based BJP leaders, who apparently can win the maximum Rajya Sabha elections, are dictating terms in the party, which – unlike the Congress – seemed to be having inner party democracy in reality. For a fact, BJP is not a mother-and-son or father-and-daughter party, where anything and everything can be manipulated. However, the Delhi-based few apparently have become masters at manipulating the Delhi-based 24×7 media – which lives on hysteria and worse – and having their way. Thus, in the middle of all the Congress-bashing – when Kejriwal was in a hurry to prove that he was not a BJP man and therefore, without finishing off his Robert Vadra issue, went looking for something against BJP – Gadkari seemed to have become the collateral damage!
It suited the interests of the Delhi-based leaders of BJP, as well as the media. The Delhi-based leaders wanted Gadkari out of the way ever since he was slotted for a second term, since the fact is that with every passing day, they fear that in the eventuality of a likely BJP win, Gadkari might actually emerge as the real PM candidate. And the media found it convenient to target Gadkari, because writing about Vadra was giving them loose motions! So we have a situation where – too relieved at the chance of forgetting Vadra – not a single journalist actually went through the track record of Gadkari as a Minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government of 1995 to 1999, but filed stories based on half-baked leaks given by not just patriarchs of Congress, but worse, even the senior-most patriarchs from the BJP – who, instead of retiring, are still nurturing ambitions of becoming the PM. The fact is that even if Gadkari made his drivers the Directors of his companies, as long as it is legal, there is nothing that can be proven or held against him. It’s common business practice to have directors who can be trusted – and who will sign on the papers that you want them to! And it’s just a pity that Gadkari had only his drivers on whom he could place his maximum trust! Experts actually believe that the company law board will find nothing illegal in his companies or their board practices.
To give Gadkari his due, he is perhaps BJP’s only real visionary leader at this point of time. He is educated and is a hands-on entrepreneur whose entrepreneurial ventures have mostly focussed on rural employment. He has a child-like enthusiasm for things and has no qualms about being a businessman, and says openly that you can’t do social work on an empty stomach. Gadkari’s stint as the Minister of PWD in Maharashtra saw sweeping changes from the top to bottom, and he created a record in terms of roads built during his tenure, including the Mumbai-Pune highway! Recent controversies apart, very personally speaking, I haven’t come across many political leaders with a social vision like his. He can rattle off the benefits of solar energy to sewage water power generation and can detail down their cost benefit analysis on his fingertips. He can talk of bio-fuel, its costs and its advantages like no politician can. He can explain the benefits of privatisation wherever required with as much ease as he can explain advantages of social entrepreneurship. He is that rarest of rare educated politician who can use terms like IRR with full confidence while explaining cost-benefits of rural entrepreneurship ventures.
Anyone who has ever met him will say that he is amongst the most learned and able communicators in BJP and one with a genuine, social vision for India. He has been a grassroots leader and has not become the President of BJP for nothing. Sure, the BJP can eject Gadkari based on news reports that are Delhi-centric. But can BJP do without Gadkari in the long run if the Delhi cabal keeps throwing out state leaders one after the other? Perhaps no. At a time when BJP seems poised to win the next elections – and there is a clear conspiracy to keep Modi out of the Centre – its Gadkari who might become their real saviour. And why not? After all, who wouldn’t love a man who is enough well read to quote with a smile the profound words of John F Kennedy – “American roads are good not because America is rich; but America is rich because American roads are good.” In such words rest not just his ability to speak but also his vision for tomorrow’s India. I doubt if BJP can afford to lose a leader like him to media-created hype.