A day ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, the BJP sought to derail the Congress’ strategy by mounting a two-pronged offensive.
The first part of the party’s new strategy is focused on turning the tables on the Congress by unearthing corruption scandals involving its leaders while the second part entails shattering Opposition unity around Lalitgate and Vyapam scandals.
This is in addition to the already thought of plan to totally reject the Congress’ demand for the resignation of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly according undue favours to controversial businessman Lalit Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the Vyapam scam. Sushma Swaraj had offered to make a statement in the House about the allegations surrounding her assistance in providing travel documents to Lalit Modi. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy indicated on Monday that the Foreign Minister would indeed be making a statement in the House to this effect.
Bribery case The first part of the BJP’s new strategy was unveiled by party spokesperson M J Akbar who cited a US Justice Department report to assert that a New Jersey-based construction management company bribed Ministers in the Congress government in Goa. He demanded a CBI inquiry into the involvement of Congress leaders in this scam. The construction firm, Louis Berger International, has been indicted by the US Justice Department for paying bribes in India to secure government contracts. The firm has been found guilty of paying bribes to win two major water projects in Goa and Guwahati where the Congress was in power during the relevant period. Taking his cue from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rhetorical use of “son-in-law” to target Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, the BJP spokesperson made a reference to Rahul Gandhi’s assertion that “not an inch of land” will be allowed to be taken away under the new Land Acquisition Act. “May be he (Rahul Gandhi) is referring to the 3,000 bighas of land that his brother-in-law has stolen in Rajasthan. Or perhaps it is a reference to the thousands of bighas in Haryana and Himachal of which they do not want to furnish any details,” said Akbar. This is the second time in less than two days that the Gandhi family, especially Priyanka Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra, has been targeted by the BJP. Akbar then demanded to know that from the bribery scam in Goa, “how much of the loot was shovelled upwards”; implying that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were somehow linked to the scam.
Going regional The second part of the BJP strategy is to reach out to regional parties in the opposition.
At an all-party meeting convened by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the reluctance of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party to join the Congress chorus to sack Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Rajeand Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was evident. Even the Left parties did not seem to be too enthusiastic in supporting the Congress in its resolve that Parliament will be disrupted till Swaraj, Raje and Chouhan resign.
While it is working to soften up opposition parties, the BJP is simultaneously busy setting its own house in order. The Prime Minister called a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance on Monday evening, for the first time in 14 months. The allies, miffed by the BJP’s neglect in the past, were quick to point out that their dominant partner has reached out only because it needs them in countering a resurgent opposition.
“We are happy that 14 months after government formation, the Prime Minister has called a meeting of the NDA,” said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Rout. He reminded the BJP that when Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, there were “regular discussions” among NDA partners. Rout also revealed that the NDA partners had not been consulted on the strategy with regard to BJP leaders under opposition attack. “It would have been better had the allies been consulted,” he said.
Another ally, Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party also said that the NDA needs to work on a “joint plan to counter the opposition charges”.