People in search of an Opposition party

Jan 11, 2012, 07:19 IST | Ranjona Banerji

The little whimpers coming out of the Anna Hazare camp are almost pitiful now. The problem of corruption remains serious and the disease as we all know is endemic.

The little whimpers coming out of the Anna Hazare camp are almost pitiful now. The problem of corruption remains serious and the disease as we all know is endemic. 

But what the Parliamentary debates showed us, among other things, is that politicians are unimpressed with the sort of 'street power', which India Against Corruption was basing its arrogance on. The reaction in Mumbai demonstrated just how ephemeral that sort of popular support is.

But the biggest headache for the anti-corruption movement mimics that of the people of India who are interested in politics -- the Bharatiya Janata Party. It might even be fair to say that the biggest headache for the Bharatiya Janata Party is, well, you got it, the Bharatiya Janata Party. The acceptance of Babu Singh Kushwaha into the BJP is what did it. The former Bahujan Samaj Party minister is under the scanner for crores of rupees scammed in the National Rural Health Mission in UP and was sacked by UP Chief Minister Mayawati.

Not so diffrent? The 'party with a difference' tag adopted by BJP, 
which perhaps Anna and his team bought into, was once all for 
economic reforms, but they now block foreign direct investment and 
include tainted ministers like Kushwaha into their fold

This 'party with a difference' gig is perhaps what Hazare and his merry band bought into, like some others. All the TV pomp and bombast about being against corruption demonstrated by the BJP's spokespersons seems believable to some. But when it came to Kushwaha, the outrage at all the black money which the Congress has allowed the wicked to accumulate across the world was tempered with some good old-fashioned political logic.

Kushwaha was against the additional quota for Muslims within existing OBC reservations, which is why he and the BJP found common ground. Knowing that there were corruption charges against him, the BJP had not given him a ticket but were using him to fight elections in UP, which everyone knows, dances to a caste and community tune. So, what had the party done that was so wicked? And maybe all the charges against Kushwaha were a Congress conspiracy, since the CBI was involved. And wasn't everyone innocent until proven guilty? (Everyone, that is, except A Raja and P Chidambaram) 

So now, where does that leave the BJP? Hazare's pre-Arvind Kejriwal-Kiran Bedi associates are now advising him to dump the anti-Congress pro-BJP line, so that the bandwagon may go. The party's anti-corruption stance is no longer tenable, even if Kushwaha has generously suggested that his admission into the BJP be suspended until he is cleared of all charges. Five states are going in for election and all is not going well in those states where the BJP has ruled.

Hindutva has become a bit tired, even if Kushwaha's stand appears to be sort of anti-Muslim in a roundabout way. The party with a difference was once all for economic reforms, but now blocks foreign direct investment here there and everywhere. The answer may well have been provided by Madhya Pradesh -- the cow. Long ago, the cow and calf were Indira Gandhi's election symbol, but who remembers. Having passed a tough law against cow slaughter -- and had the Bajrang Dal jump in to bash a potential cow slaughterer (Muslim of course), the MP government has now released all kinds of fascinating facts about cow dung and cow's milk.

The dung can not only save you from Caesarian births (society ladies who want C-sections, you know what to avoid) but also nuclear attacks and gas leaks (like Bhopal), the milk makes children more obedient and everyone who drinks cow's milk is less violent and less likely to be a criminal (a lesson for the Bajrang Dal?). It must be specified that these benefits only come from Indian cows. Not from buffaloes or foreign cows. One could perhaps say that if the cow moos, the lotus can bloom again. Or, that it's all bull.

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on twitter@ranjona

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