By Arun Srivastava
Chanakya of BJP, Amit Shah has come out with the implicit advice to Rahul Gandhi to go to a higher court and challenge the verdict of the Surat court. This unsolicited advice coming from the iron man of the BJP has given rise to numerous conjecture in the political circle. What compelled him to come out with this advice? Does he think that Rahul would not move court? Rahul is aware of the legal procedure and he knows he has to challenge his conviction in a higher court. There is no ambiguity. But what made Amit Shah to offer unsolicited idea is really intriguing.
Hus overture is sheer manifestation of edginess and fear that grips his mind, of his mentor Narendra Modi and BJP’s political ecosystem. Their sense of scariness aggravated only after the foreign friends, USA and Germany, of Modi sought to have detailed reasons for punishing Rahul. Germany’s foreign ministry spokesperson said, “We have taken note of the verdict of first instance against Indian opposition politician Rahul Gandhi as well as the suspension of his parliamentary mandate.” He even said “standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles” will equally apply to the proceedings against Rahul Gandhi. It is quite a loaded statement.
Else there is no apparent reason that Shah should come out with suggestion. Shah has even accused Rahul of raising hue and cry instead of challenging the verdict in court. Fact of the matter is both Modi and Shah are scared of the invisible political turns and is impact on Karnataka assembly elections due on May 10.
Shah is not known to offer advice even to his friends, except of course to Narendra Modi. It is his inability to read Rahul’s illusory silence that has made Shah restive. One thing is quite noticeable: Shah chose to express his opinion coinciding with the day, the Congress announced that Rahul would launch his election campaign on April 5 from Kolar in Karnataka, the place where he made the remark for which he was convicted of criminal defamation and stripped off his membership of the Lok Sabha.
Shah even said that Rahul is not the only politician who has lost membership of the legislature, before him at least 17 politicians, including former Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad (Bihar) and J Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu), were convicted by the courts. Indeed bizarre was his design to show Rahul in poor shape. He said those leaders were more capable and had more experience than Rahul. Wonderful. Shah is implicitly trying to connect corruption cases with charges of defamation.
His blaming Rahul that he has been trying to put blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi was merely an attempt to keep his bold image. He even tried to prick a hole in Rahul’s delaying tactics: “He has not appealed to take stay on his conviction. What kind of arrogance is this? You want favour. You want to continue as an MP and will also not go before the court”. Will Shah make public whom Rahul has approached for favour in relation to his case? Instead of making public his perverse frustration and fear, Shah should come out with clinching evidences.
His remark; “The Congress has many big lawyers and some of them are Rajya Sabha members. They should advise him about the legal issues,” is indicator of his edginess. Astonishingly Shah has also been worried of expunging of his speeches made in Lok Sabha. He says: “It is the law of the country that all of his speeches in Parliament would have to be removed from the records from the moment he was convicted. Even if his disqualification notice was served a few days later, it would have made no difference”.
How could he surmise that Rahul has not been consulting them or these leaders would not have been preparing the legal brief? Like Modi, Shah too is frightened of Rahul’s move. They envisages that Rahul may prefer to be sent to jail. The 30 day period to appeal ends on April 22. In his desperation to steer clear of the public condemnation of their act, Shah has been obliquely trying to put the blame for conviction on Rahul’s head by saying “it was Gandhi who tore an ordinance during the previous UPA government which could have helped him now.” Gandhi was disqualified as member after a court in Gujarat ordered two years’ imprisonment in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his alleged ‘Modi surname’ remark.
Yet another revelation from Shah, at this critical juncture, has been quite amazing. He disclosed that the CBI had “put pressure” on him to “frame” Narendra Modi in an alleged fake encounter case in Gujarat when he was being questioned by the probe agency during the Congress-led UPA government”. It was not his simple attempt to refute the allegation that Modi government is “misusing’ central agencies to target opposition leaders. A closer look will make it explicit that it has more wider implication than appears to be. According to him CBI was “putting pressure” on him to “frame Modi ji” (when he was Gujarat CM) in an alleged fake encounter case during the Congress government”.
Winning Karnataka assembly election has turned out to be the survival quotient for Modi. If BJP loses the election, Modi is sure to wilt at the 2024 Lok Sabha election. Senior BJP leaders from Karnataka who till a week back were confident of BJP victory have reconciled to the idea of losing the game. Only yesterday the veteran BJP leader B S Yediyurappa had approved the name of his son to contest from Varuna, against the Congress stalwart Siddaramaiah but today he announced that instead he would contest from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district.
During last week at least three prominent political leaders belonging to BJP and JD(S) have switched over their loyalties to Congress. Further survey released by a leading agency says that the Congress on its own, will get a majority -120 seats out of the total 224 seats in the coming assembly polls in the state.
An internal opinion poll report which came to the party leaders does not present a rosy picture. This report comes just ahead of visit of Modi and Shah to Karnataka. The report is based on the opinions of enlisted party members from across 39 organisational districts covering 224 assembly seats. Based on the report the party will finalise the second list of the candidates.
The important fact that forced Yediyurappa to move his son from Varuna to Shivamogga has been hostile attitude of the OBCs and Dalits towards BJP and especially towards Yediyurappa. Some four days back his house was attacked by the OBCs and stones were pelted. The backward castes voters are aggrieved at changes in reservation policy. In Varuna, the AHINDA, acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits are quite hostile to BJP. They have been traditionally pro Congress. Interestingly the first opinion poll by People’s Pulse and Cicero for South First has predicted that the Congress would emerge as the single-largest party in the 2023 elections.
Even the members from Vokkaligas and Lingayats communities, seen as traditional vote banks of the JD(S) and the BJP, are inclined towards Congress. The situation has suddenly turned tough for the BJP. Even some senior BJP leaders confide that the treatment meted out to Rahul has in fact not gone down well with the people. After the incredible success of Bharat Jodo Yatra, this action has further pushed the people closer to Rahul. Congress consolidation also owes to closing of the rank and file. Only one slogan “ teach BJP lesson for insulting Rahul” has been key word for campaigning. To their dismay, the top BJP leaders may find that Rahul’s disqualification has only made the Congress leader more popular in Karnataka in the course of his campaigning. (IPA Service)