New Delhi, Oct. 8: The BJP is apparently unfazed by the double-barrelled attack from two important representatives of the socio-economically disadvantaged groups, Mayavati and Ajit Jogi.
While the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister labelled Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee a “kattar Brahman (die-hard Brahmin)” after the CBI raided her houses, the Chhattisgarh chief minister called the CBI chargesheet against him a part of a “campaign to drive out an Adivasi chief minister”.
The BJP is likely to fine-tune its line of defence against Jogi’s charge in a meeting of central office-bearers here on Friday and Saturday. But its Chhattisgarh unit president Raman Singh believes the chief minister has no moral or political leg to stand on.
“A case of forgery against him has been going on in the Shahdol trial court for the last 12 years because he faked his tribal antecedents. He was not a chief minister then, so where is the question of us hatching a conspiracy to oust him'
“As far as the CBI inquiry in the other forgery case is concerned, it is Mr Jogi who asked for it from the Prime Minister. Now the tables have turned on him. The Congress has done a great service to us by projecting him as the CM. We don’t need another issue,” Singh said.
BJP spokesman and general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was “improper” of the Congress to compare the chargesheet against Jogi with the one against Murli Manohar Joshi in the Babri demolition case. It was “unthinkable” that someone accused of multiple forgery could hold a constitutional post. The principal charge against Joshi was “only” unlawful assemblage, he said.
Naqvi took strong exception to Mayavati’s diatribe against Vajpayee and the BJP. “It was highly irresponsible and motivated” and “only showed the frame of mind she is in”, he said. “After all, the CBI raids on her residence were carried out on the directive of the Supreme Court and the investigating agency is directly reporting to the apex court,” he told newsmen.
Despite the outward nonchalance, there was anxiety in the BJP on how the Mayavati-Jogi offensive would be received by certain social sections before the Assembly elections. Singh and Naqvi felt “caste could no longer be used as a shield against corruption”. But others said going by the recovery staged by Laloo Prasad Yadav after the fodder scam, it was to be seen if the CBI manoeuvres would work in the BJP’s favour or not.
“Had the CBI confined itself to Jogi, it would have given a lot of strength and substance to our campaign. But in tandem with the raids on Mayavati, it has blunted the edge,” said a party MP. He believed the message that could percolate down the line was that the “upper caste” BJP government was using the CBI to “fix” Dalits and tribals.
Though the BSP is not a contender for power in the poll-bound states, it has a sizeable presence in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi. This is why the BJP’s central leaders went “soft” on her even after the third-time alliance in Uttar Pradesh ended acrimoniously.
The leadership was toying with two proposals: one, to thwart an alliance between the BSP and the Congress, which it managed to ensure; and two, to have a “tacit” understanding with the BSP by getting Mayavati to field “effective” candidates in Congress strongholds and cut into the latter’s Dalit-Muslim base.
After Mayavati’s declaration today she would work to have the BJP defeated in the elections, the party was less sure if the second part of its blueprint would be implemented.