One man army against Jayalalithaa: Subramanian Swamy finds himself isolated in Modi's BJP
An enemy’s enemy is always a good friend in politics. But what happens when the enemy’s enemy turns out to be a friend’s bete noire? Does he still remain a friend or turns into a liability?
In the wake of J Jayalalithaa’s acquittal by the Karnataka High Court, the BJP and its senior leader Subramanian Swamy may find themselves in an awkward situation. Their relationship status may be getting slightly complicated.
The BJP, it is evident, is happy that the former (and future) Tamil Nadu chief minister has emerged as ‘tested pure gold’ out of the disproportionate assets case. The PM has already congratulated her. The BJP floor managers are seeing in her acquittal the beginning of a beautiful friendship in the Parliament, where AIDMK members can help the government on crucial issues.
But Swamy, the original complainant in the DA case, isn’t happy. “It's not an unusual thing. When you are in a democratic system, then such twists and turns are expected. We can't do much about it because delays are done by the accused. She has now earned the right to be sworn as the chief minister again,” Swamy said after the HC verdict.
Swamy has hinted that he isn’t giving up and may approach the Supreme Court. “If this is lost, then there is an appeal. She lost in the sessions court and went for an appeal. Now let us see what happens in the further appeal,” he said.
In all likelihood, since it is keen on running with the AIDMK in the Parliament, the BJP will not allow Swamy to hound Jayalalithaa. After the verdict, the usually pugnacious Swamy was unusually subdued, giving rise to speculation that he had been asked to hold his fire on the Jayalalithaa issue.
But Swamy has always been a bit of a loose cannon. The problem with such quick-gun politicians is that you never know when they would start firing in the wrong direction, or at their own camp. Lutyen’s insiders believe the troika of Ram Jethmalani, Arun Shourie and Swamy has turned against Modi. And while the first two have already fired their ammo, Swamy could be next.
“Known for his provocative statements in praise and criticism, Swamy had last year said Modi had 'Brahminical gunas' in response to Opposition attack on his brand of politics. Less than a year later, he started questioning his government on its approach towards bringing back black money, the Rafale deal and the black money Bill. Swamy, who last year in an interview had said that being a member of the BJP he cannot file a PIL against the government, recently threatened to challenge the Prime Minister's commitment to buy the French combat aircraft,” according to a report in DNA.
Swamy has, however, changed his mind on the Rafale deal, ostensibly because the government acted on his advice. “The government has immediately responded to what I have said. The old deal as envisaged is being scrapped. It was a deal between Sonia Gandhi and Nicolas Sarkozy (then President of France). No country was buying the old Rafale aircraft, as the radar was old and the fuel consumption too high. I have met the Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, and the old deal has been closed. The bribe taken in this regard may have to be returned by the Indian wrongdoers. In the new situation, India will buy 36 aircraft, which will be built in France. It will have a new radar. It will take two years for India to acquire the modern aircraft. There is no corruption now. There will be no PIL from my end. My work is done,” Swamy told a gathering recently.
Swamy’s plea on the black money issue is listed for hearing in the Supreme Court today. The Modi government has already steered the Black Money bill through the Lok Sabha. It would be interesting to see if Swamy does a Rafale on black money, claiming victory out of political necessity.
Giving up his crusade against Jayalalithaa won’t be an easy political compromise for Swamy. He has pursued the case for almost two decades now. His credibility would be depend on whether he appeals against the HC verdict or forgets his animosity for the political benefit of his new friends.
The choices for Swami are limited. Since he was a one-man party before he joined the BJP, he didn’t bring much to the table in terms of votebank or cadre. His real assets, perhaps, were his Hindutva ideology, interest in economy (it led the Swamy Army to believe he could be Modi’s finance minister), the reputation of a gossip-monger –his private ‘investigations’ in the Sunanda Pushkar, innuendoes on Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi are classic examples of the use of rumours and canards in political warfare-- and a fearless fighter of big battles against powerful politicians, some of
whom happened to be his own and the BJP’s common enemies.
But the game is changing. The BJP is now keen to turn old foes into friends. If Swamy continue to fight his private wars, he would soon find out that his best friends are now his worst enemies.
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