By Soroor Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
In just over a decade another national president of the Bharatiya Janata Party is in the soup. In March 2001 the then party chief, Bangaru Laxman, was caught on camera accepting bribe from fake arms dealers. The sting operation was then widely televised. Also who fell in trouble was the then Samata Party––now Janata Dal (United)––chief Jaya Jaitley. Both the parties were the constituents of the ruling National Democratic Alliance. At present they are together ruling Bihar under the leadership of Nitish Kumar.
Bangaru was subsequently convicted by a special CBI court on April 27, 2012 and was sentenced to four years in prison. Thus it was a disgraceful exit for the first Dalit party chief.
So if Bangaru Laxman became the first president of any national party––which was in power then––to end up in jail a decade later, Nitin Gadkari has another distinction. If the stories which appeared in the media on Oct 23 regarding the dubious funding in his companies are true he would be the first national president of the Hindutva party to get involved in such a case.
Reports appearing in newspapers have raised questions over the source of funds for Purti Power and Sugar Ltd, which is controlled by Gadkari. Media investigations claim that major investments and large loans to Purti Power were made by a construction firm Ideal Road Builders (IRB) group, which had won contracts between 1995 and 1999, when Gadkari was PWD minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra.
Only on Oct 17 last India Against Corruption activists, Arvind Kejriwal and Anjali Damania, levelled serious charges against him. Though the BJP strongly refuted all those allegations what is strange about them was that Gadkari was charged with joining hands with the leaders of ruling Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra.
If there is even an iota of truth in the IAC leaders accusations it is something very unusual. How can the president of the biggest opposition party in the country be hand in glove with those in power in the country, yet still criticizing the latter on the corruption front.
Usually indulging in corruption is the prerogative of those in power. Those in opposition are disadvantaged lot. They try to find fault with the policy and style of functioning of the ruling party or combination. They bring out charges of corruption and try to enlighten the masses with them. But here both Gadkari and Sharad Pawar of the NCP were accused of joining hands.
While Bangaru got a boot, it is to be seen whether Gadkari actually starts his second innings or not. Only recently the party went out of way to give him the second term as the national president.
Though the party leadership strongly stood behind him when the IAC levelled charges against him on Oct 17, the RSS seems to be embarrassed by what appeared in the media on Oct 23. While there are only few voices which are coming out to support him the Rajya Sabha MP of the BJP and former Union Law Minister, Ram Jethmalani sought his immediate removal. The party is in total disarray and the issue has rendered many top shots speechless.
While the Bangaru Laxman episode took place when the party was in power and there were enough top leaders to indulge in image makeover today the situation is entirely different. There is already tussle for power at the top.