BJP plays to defensive poll field

Read more below

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 11.07.08
  •  

New Delhi, July 11: The BJP wants to nettle the UPA with pinpricks but has refrained from playing the numbers game to try and topple the government.

Instead it’s playing garden-party cricket. One general secretary summed up the mood: “If the catch comes, we will not drop it.”

What he left unsaid was that the party would neither bowl effectively nor set an attacking field.

So, spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad bowled gentle medium pace, saying the BJP expected the Prime Minister not to take the support of “MPs convicted of murder charges” to save his government.

Although he did not name the MPs, he was clearly referring to Suraj Bhan of the Lok Janshakti Party and Syed Shahabuddin and Pappu Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, who are serving sentences in various jails.

This attempt to whittle down the UPA’s strength by three votes comes after two days of verbal bouncers at the Left, which is trying to ensure the collapse of the government.

The strategy bolstered charges that the BJP did not want the government to fall over the nuclear deal, which could water down the impact of the price rise and Hindutva issues like terrorism, Ram Setu and the Amarnath row.

And sure enough, on a day the UPA scrambled to rustle up the numbers, many BJP leaders were dismissive of the trust vote, asking what difference it would make if the elections were delayed by a few months.

“We stand to gain if this government drags on like this. Inflation has continued to move upward, issues are tumbling out every day — like the Amarnath row — and the Left is doing everything to discredit the Congress,” a party official explained.

Senior BJP leaders admit in private that they don’t want to be clubbed with the Left and share the blame for pulling the government down over an international agreement.

“We will oppose this government; we will discredit the Congress leadership. But we don’t want a nuclear deal-centric election. This deal will certainly help the Congress somewhat blunt the anti-incumbency factor,” a party MP said.

Besides, party sources said, the pro-US lobby in the BJP was keen to see the deal carried through.

Ever since the Left withdrew support, the BJP leadership has been trying to argue that the real issues are price rise, terrorism and the “insult to the Hindu religion”. And even a lobby in the RSS is happy with the defensive field placing.