Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Manohar Parrikar takes on Dilli4
Goa’s BJP leader and former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is not given to making off-the-cuff remarks. He is a grassroots level activist who has an impeccable (and enviable) record as a party member, leader and commitment to good governance. His integrity quotient is exceptionally high. His commitment to ideology is unimpeachable. He is a technocrat who understands the pulse of politics and popular aspirations. (I have commented on him in an earlier post.)
Parrikar told a local TV channel (and I am quoting PTI): “At present Advaniji's innings is matured. It is like Sachin Tendulkar. However matured innings he may play, sometime he will have to stop playing. It is like a pickle which takes a year to mature. But if it is kept for two years or so, it gets rancid.” He also said: "Advaniji's period is more or less over... Another couple of years and after that he should act as a guardian or mentor for the party. He should be available whenever we need him. His capability and experience should be available for BJP."
I presume Parrikar spoke in Konkan. And the reference must have been to a local idiom. But the gist of what he said is clear to all: Advani has had his innings; he should now retire; and, a fresh, young lot should take over the leadership of the BJP at the national level. He has stated the obvious, but he is the first to articulate it in so many words. By doing so, he has exhibited integrity and honesty. He has shown courage, which is now considered rare in a party increasingly consumed by sycophancy and factionalism.
Dilli4 will be most displeased with Parrikar. He has shown them up. Dilli4 worked the media all of Tuesday to give a twist to Parrikar’s statement and make him sound rancid. Dilli4 met with some success, which prompted Parrikar to issue a ‘clarification’ that is really a reiteration of what he said: "Advaniji is my icon. The media is distorting my comments. I only asked for a young person -- between 40 and 55 years of age -- to be the party president. I stand by my comments." To drive home his point, he added, "There is a lot of wrong projection about BJP which can be cleared with a new face."
Notice the emphasis on ‘young person’ and ‘new face’. He has been blunt and truthful. And absolutely right in his assessment. Dilli4 needed to be told where they get off.
But Dilli4 is not giving up without a fight -- not yet. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who is among those in the BJP who suffer from an acute manifestation of foot-in-mouth disease, was deployed for ‘damage control’. Rudy told media: "Manohar Parrikar has compared Advani to Sachin Tendulkar and said that just as Tendulkar is progressing by and by and his game is improving with experience.... He has used the same metaphor for Advani. If beyond this some other words have been used for analysis, then it is wrong."
Really? Since when has Rudy been appointed arbiter of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? By whom?
Meanwhile, two associated developments in the BJP which reflect the prevailing state of affairs in the party and therefore merit mention.
First, Bishan Singh Chufaal has been appointed president of Uttarakhand unit of the BJP. Bachi Singh Rawat has been sacked for the party’s electoral performance in the Lok Sabha poll. We are now told Chufaal will lead the BJP to greater glory. Let’s wait and watch. 2012 isn’t too far off.
Second, Jaswant Singh has questioned why LK Advani kept quiet for a month on his expulsion from the party before saying that he had disfavoured disciplinary action against the author of Jinnah’s controversial biography. "It is to be examined in what context or reference he (Advani) has said this and that too after a month,” Jaswant Singh told mediapersons in Jaipur on Tuesday.
Interestingly, Jaswant Singh also said his son Manvendra is no more in the BJP. Asked whether Manvendra, former BJP MP from Barmer, was in the party, Jaswant Singh said "No he is not.” He said no member of his family was with the BJP now. Rajasthan BJP president Arun Chaturvedi told PTI, “It has to be ascertained whether Manvendra renewed his party membership during the recent membership drive in Barmer.”
Manvendra has not said anything on the issue.