At a point in time when the BJP had sought to exploit recollections of the Emergency to political advantage, both the government and party were struggling to come up with any kind of strategy to counter the unrelenting Opposition assault over their failure to live up to the moralising. The immediate target was Vasundhara Raje; Sushma Swaraj was still in the firing-line; there was embarrassment over a court order pertaining to Smriti Irani – and a pinprick courtesy allegations against Pankaja Munde.
The party was clearly facing a crisis (emergency is a term we refrain from using in the present context); its sores exacerbated by a puerile quip from the home minister, near-nonsense spouted by spokespersons on or off TV, but above all no indication of how Mr Narendra Modi and his trouble-shooter Amit Shah proposed to regain the considerable ground lost these past few days. It is possible that some action would have been taken before this edition reaches its readers but the damage has already been done.
Regardless of whether any of the “tainted” retain office or not, it is the shattering of the Modi-myth that is the prime casualty – just 13 months after assuming office (is 13 truly unlucky for BJP-led governments?) his apparent invincibility stands tattered. His troubles may appear less painful than the financial improprieties associated with ministers in the previous government, but his silence and inaction suggest he is as incapable of decisive action as his predecessor. Does Mr Modi also have a remote-controller? A joke circulating on social media might “click” – it says that currently RSS is an abbreviation of Raje, Sushma, Smriti.
That hours elapsed without Vasundhara – or anybody else in the BJP camp – having dared to deny the signed version of a very damning document circulated earlier puts the Rajasthan chief minister in a pickle. Without even “considering” her defence of Lalit Modi she now appears to have been untruthful when claiming ignorance of the document.
Does she merit Constitutional office after that? Tell us, please, Mr Modi. Surely if the lofty ideals propounded both during the election campaign and when taking over the PMO have a ring of sincerity to them, Ms Raje, Ms Swaraj and Ms Irani would have been directed to step aside until they were “cleared” by appropriate probes. The “brazen it out” theory has relevance only for a section of people best not described.
Corruption is not just financial, propriety kicks in. That the crisis is kicking-in elsewhere too is evident from the unflattering comments of RK Singh and Kirti Azad; those MPs fear an impact on upcoming polls in Bihar. The Modi wave, inevitably, had to dissipate – is the cookie starting to crumble?