While the controversy around Sushma Swaraj-Lalit Modi gathers momentum, everybody is asking one question; why has her colleague in the union cabinet, Arun Jaitley, not defended her so far?
It assumes significance given that the beleaguered external affairs minister has received support from most of her party leaders. From the party to the RSS, everyone appears to have rallied behind Swaraj except the union finance minister, who’s been conspicuous by his silence.
“We want to make it clear that whatever she has done is right. A person with humanitarian perspective should take the same steps. We justify it and the government completely stands by her,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said justifying Swaraj’s action.
However, opposition is smelling a rat here. Aam Aadmi Party’s Ashutosh was quick to conclude that the external affairs minister had fallen victim to an enemy from within the BJP.
He told a news agency, “There is a gang-war that has started within the BJP. In this war, a target has been placed on Sushma Swaraj because she is a powerful leader within the BJP and is a possible prime ministerial candidate in the future. I think this was a leak perpetuated from within the party.”
BJP’s own MP, Kirti Azad too hinted in the same direction blaming one ‘aasteen ka saanp (expression used to describe an enemy within).” The cricketer-turned-politician wrote on twitter, ”
Even before the last year’s Loksabha elections, the BJP was a divided house with one camp supporting Narendra Modi as the party’s PM candidate while other opposing this move.
The camp, which opposed Modi’s projection as the BJP’s PM candidate, was reportedly led by Sushma Swaraj. Arun Jaitley, according to several media reports, led the group, which supported Modi’s candidature.
Sources within the BJP say that this rivalry between Jaitley and Swaraj never ceased to exist even after both were rewarded with plum cabinet posts. There was one difference though. While Jaitley, who was also given additional charge of India’s defence portfolio until Manohar Parriker’s appointment, has remained a very active minister, the same can’t be said about Swaraj’s role as the foreign minister.
With Modi occupying the centre stage on India’s foreign policies, Swaraj has been forced to take a backseat. When she didn’t accompany Modi to the latter’s Bangladesh trip recently, she became the butt of several social media jokes with users calling her just a ‘meet and greet’ foreign minister, whose job was to ‘see off and receive’ the prime minister.
There’s also this perception that the Modi’s silence or BJP’s support for Swaraj could well have a different motive all together. Sacking such a high profile minister would be hugely embarrassing for the government and provide unnecessary fodder to the opposition parties to launch attacks on BJP on the issue of corruption.
Modi, since becoming the prime minister, has always prided himself on checking corrupt practices in the corridor of power in Delhi. The party spokespersons never miss an opportunity to remind Modi’s famous line ‘na khaoonga na khaane doonga’ to highlight their moral high ground on corruption. Any action against Swaraj would amount to conceding that a senior cabinet minister in Modi’s cabinet had indeed indulged in conflict of interest thereby severely denting the credibility of the BJP government on corruption.
A senior BJP leader summed it up very well, “the PM is supporting Sushmaji not because he loves her. It’s because he is more concerned about his own reputation.”