The likes of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian, Shashikant Das and Arvind Kejriwal can relax. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is now the open target of maverick BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy.
Jaitley has always been a target of Swamy, but now the gloves are off. What previously used to be part of his private conversations has now become public. The “nominated” MP is using his favored medium of communication—Twitter—to tweet and re-tweet anything against Finance Minister Jaitley. Though he has not named the finance minister in his own tweets, the references are more than clear.
Consider some of Swamy’s tweets:”People giving me unasked for advice of discipline and restraint don’t realize that if I disregard discipline there would be a blood bath”
This is clearly in response to Jaitley’s tweet posted a day ago in which he stood in defence of Arvind Subramanian and Shashikant Das. Swamy’s words “… if I disregard discipline there would be a blood bath” contain a certain threat and a clear warning not to escalate things.Another statement by Swamy is even more direct and below the belt: “BJP should direct our ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian clothes while abroad. In coat and tie, they look like waiters”. Jaitley is the only Indian minister currently touring abroad. He is in China and was seen wearing suit and a black tie. An attack like this, that too from someone within the ruling Indian establishment, would obviously be noticed by the Chinese authorities also. Though it will not impact the bilateral proceedings, it surely is an avoidable talking point.
And then, “People asked me why no Congis spoke up during Emergency and during 2004-14 against TDK Today the same people are asking me to keep silent!!” Swamy has linked his uncontrollable outspokenness with the democratic value of intra-party free speech.
Ironically, all this comes at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is abroad, in a different time zone, focused on different things. Modi clearly has his task cut out for him when he returns home.
This kind of free and frank speech, if left unchecked, will severely dent the BJP’s image. More so, there is a fear that this virus could spread to other leaders from the party and motormouths from the Parivar, who could use Swamy’s outspokenness as an excuse. After all, there could not be different sets of rule to discipline for different people.
Most BJP leaders are at a loss on how to respond to Swamy’s latest barbs, or whether to respond, at all. Jaitley is considered to be the most influential minister in the Modi government, and Swamy the most favored MP of the RSS.
There is total confusion in the ranks of the BJP. They certainly don’t like what Swamy has been saying, or endlessly tweeting and retweeting; even targeting journalists, anchors and media houses. “NDTV claims I made personal allegations against BJP senior leaders. NDTV anchor is a Liar. Which personal allegation? Which leader?”Swamy says. Then a retweet of one of his followers’ tweet, “Sources = Jaitley – His #Presstitutes at work.”
Swamy has a lot to say on some countries’ NSG vote against India. Here, he has found an unlikely ally in Arvind Kejriwal. The Delhi chief minister retweeted Swamy’s tweet: “On NSG, the vote against India by Swiss and Brazil also needs investigation.”
Some BJP leaders are uncomfortable, unhappy, or angry, while some are quietly relishing the situation. But even ones who are relishing the situation are not sure as to where Swamy would train his guns next. The confusion in the BJP ranks is growing by the hour for two reasons—first, the deliberations relating to Swamy versus Jaitley are limited to the top and have not filtered downward; second, no one really knows whether Swamy was acting on his own as an unguided loose missile, whether he was acting at the prompting of someone powerful in the Sangh Parivar.
The other question that sundry BJP leaders are asking is—who will tame Swamy and how? On Swamy’s barbs against Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Subramanian, the party officially distanced itself from him and dismissed the remarks as his personal views. But this time round, the matter has gone a bit too far. Swamy is turning out to be quite a problem and the party will have to deal with him like that, said a source.
Firstpost had earlier written about the nature of the Swamy-Jaitley hate relationship, which had sharpened after Jaitley virtually blocked his candidature to fight 2014 parliamentary elections from Delhi.
Influential sections in RSS believe that his commitment to the Hindutva cause is unflinching, and his commitment to fight it out against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi is absolute. By his own admission, Swamy is busy with his rounds of meetings on the Ram temple. He addressed an anti-Emergency meeting organised by the Kerala BJP on 25 June (the Emergency was imposed by Indira Gandhi on 25 June, 1975) in Trivandrum and on 26th in Mumbai.
But it is time for some in the BJP to ponder whether it was prudent on the part of the party leadership to nominate Swamy in the Rajya Sabha in last Budget session. His stint in Parliament has just begun, and there are another six years to go.