The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Real magnanimity does not trample even upon a worm. The Bharatiya Janata Party, if it does not change its ways, may fail this test. It has not stopped gloating over its sting operation on Mr Ajit Jogi, the outgoing chief minister of Chhattisgarh. The success of this operation has become an occasion for greater rejoicing than the electoral victory in Chhattisgarh. There can be no defence for what Mr Jogi was attempting to do. He has been caught with his hands in the till, as it were. But it is also beyond doubt that the Congress has acted against Mr Jogi with exemplary swiftness. Acting on the principle that even Caesarís wife should be above suspicion, the Congress suspended Mr Jogi forthwith. The party did not wait for proof or to hear Mr Jogiís version of events. The president of the Congress, Ms Sonia Gandhi, has made it amply clear that in so far as she is concerned, Mr Jogi is persona non grata. The former chief ministerís access to the Congress president is shut. Ms Gandhi has recognized that the Congress in its present plight cannot afford to harbour in its ranks a person under the shadow of corruption. Mr Jogi has not only lost an election in Chhattisgarh, he has also made the Congress lose its credibility across the country. He has brought disgrace upon defeat. But for the BJP, the disgrace has become more important than the defeat since they believe that Congressís disgrace will provide them with more political mileage.

There is something bizarre and perverse about the BJPís apparent glee at having nailed Mr Jogi. The BJP leadership obviously believes too literally in the saying that public memory is short. But is not so short that it should forget that a few weeks before the election, the BJP had objected to the tapes which showed Mr Dilip Singh Judeo accepting bribes. Sometime ago the BJP had been vociferous in its condemnation of the Tehelka tapes that cast serious doubts on the integrity of Mr Bangaru Laxman of the BJP and Jaya Jaitley of the Samata Party among others. Since then the people running Tehelka have been hounded and harrassed. All this only suggest that the BJP is in no position to claim the high moral ground on corruption. Given its own track record of disapproval of sting operations, the BJP can hardly pat itself on its own back for having carried out a sting operation. In the moral landscape that surrounds most politicians and all political parties, the BJP cannot afford to forget that it lives in a glass house. Stone throwing may not encourage magnanimity among its rivals when the wheel of fortune turns against the BJP.

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