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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Saffron Sleaze by the Sabarmati

Talk about up the creek without a paddle. The BJP is in a blue funk in Gujarat. It has come unhinged by the successful Congress campaign that has sealed a de facto alliance with the Patidars, the Dalits, OBCs, the working class, and farmers. Then there is the corruption factor involving Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, and also Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, who has been fined by the Securities and Exchange Board of India for manipulative (fraudulent and unfair) trading on the stock market.

Like the “vikas” it touts, the entire saffron gang seems to have gone crazy. The Congress has disparaged the “Gujarat model” as one built on wacky priorities. To understand just how puerile this “vikas” is, you need to visit the soul-less Sabarmati riverfront: miles of sterile walkways and patches of lawns on concrete blocks stacked on its banks while the river bed copes with stagnant water channelled from the Narmada Dam.

The BJP seems totally flummoxed as its mother lode slips from its grasp. What to do, what to do, what, what…as Manna Dey sang for Mehmood in the rip-off song “Aao twist kare” from the B-grade film, Bhoot Bangla. But at least Mehmood did the twist with some amount of grace.

By contrast, the saffron party is all jerks and twitches as it seeks a response to the maelstrom of bad news. Sources say it turned to the huge dirty tricks machine Amit Shah built during his stint as home minister. This is the notorious network he used to stalk a young female architect for his “saheb.” It is reflective of the sleazy reputation that has haunted Shah and even put him in jail for his involvement in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter.

Result: a “sex CD” that purportedly features Patidar leader Hardik Patel in a hotel room with a woman.

What the BJP geniuses utterly failed to comprehend is that Patel is single and young, and in his own words, not impotent. He can have sex with whomever he likes; there’s no law against it. It is not an issue at all. Nevertheless, an incensed Patel has gone to town, denying it is him on the disk and taking the fight to the BJP camp, saying things were happening just as he had predicted.

To add to the BJP’s woes, another video went viral; in it, the man who leaked the “sex CD” is shown in the company of BJP Gujarat general secretary, Mansukh Mandaviya, who is a minister in the Modi government. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the BJP is behind the sleaze.

Clearly, the hullabaloo is much ado about nothing. Patel’s personal life is his own business. The circulation of the “sex CD” is a violation of his privacy. He would be well within his rights to sue the man who leaked the CD for defamation; then in public meetings going forward, he would be fully justified to link him loudly to Mandaviya, the BJP minister.

This sorry episode is evidence the BJP leadership, in Gujarat as well as at the center, lacks maturity when it comes to dealing with adversity. Faced with a possible setback, the amateurish bunch that runs the party seems to have lost mental balance.

It is a measure of the party’s intellectual bankruptcy that when the second video was circulated, the implicated minister made a disingenuous attempt to distance the party, saying it is “unfair” to drag the BJP into the controversy. But of course nobody believes this.

In fact, Rahul Gandhi, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani have all backed Patel and charged the BJP with “playing dirty politics.” So the essential objective of the “sex CD” has not been achieved: the four leaders have remained united, more determined than ever to uproot the BJP in its bastion.

Gandhi took the battle straight to the saffron crew, saying it was trying to suppress the voice of the Patidars while Dalit leader Mevani said sex is a fundamental right. Meanwhile, OBC leader Thakore asserted that the fake CD would not save the BJP in Gujarat.

This show of solidarity by its four adversaries has made the BJP look foolish and inept, completely incapable of handling its own affairs, leave alone affairs of state. In its effort to discredit Patel, it has egg on its face.

Game, set and match to the vigorous foursome.

Post Script 1: Not content at being shown up to be infantile, the Gujarat BJP seems to have purveyed another video showing Patel “drinking” with friends including a woman. In it, Patel is depicted with a shaven head. The idea behind that is incredibly stupid; the producer sought to defame Patel in the dry state and also to answer his charge that the first “sex CD” was a fake because at the time it was made, he had shaved his head to protest a Modi visit to Gujarat.

Post Script 2: In the ultimate denouement of its clumsy crisis management, the BJP has appealed an Election Commission decision to disallow the use of character called Pappu in a campaign commercial. Hoping to gain some public sympathy, the party mindlessly leaked the story to a television channel so it featured on a prime time debate. Oops!