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Bull's Eye

Early September, commenting on the Uttar Pradesh crisis, and L.K. Advani's exertions to bring about a mid-term general election, this column said: "Sometimes ...

Bull's Eye
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Early September, commenting on the Uttar Pradesh crisis, and L.K. Advani's exertions to bring about a mid-term general election, this column said: "Sometimes conspiracies spin out of control to devour their authors." Last week, it pointed out that the BJP was moving on two tracks. It continues to do so.

On one track, the RSS last Monday endorsed the VHP's plans for a fresh agitation to expedite the Ram temple. The Archaeological Survey of India's excavation report emboldened them. VHP leaders have demanded the PM's resignation. But they closely consult Advani. Shaky prospects in the coming state elections have impelled the rss to go for the jugular. The focus on Ayodhya is expected to swing votes their way. Time will tell.

On the other track, the Supreme Court's observations on the Gujarat government are unprecedented. The more the PM prevaricates in removing Modi, the greater the damage he will inflict on his own and his government's credibility. If Modi is not removed, the BJP's future in the next general elections could be sealed. The BJP's past denigration of two constitutional authorities, the Election Commission and the National Human Rights Commission, if followed by scant regard for the Supreme Court, will carry its own message to even sympathetic voters.

On September 19, the special court in Rae Bareilly will decide whether charges should be framed against Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others in the Ayodhya case. Minus conspiracy, the chargesheet is considerably diluted. Nevertheless, even the charge of provoking the mob could be politically damaging. If charges are framed, no matter how minor, it is likely that Murli Manohar Joshi will resign. That would compel Advani to follow suit.

Meanwhile, the CBI investigation of Mayawati continues. More serious than the Taj corridor case could be implications of certain property purchases of the former chief minister that are under scrutiny. The probe could hamper Mayawati during the polls.

It could very well be under such conditions that the state elections are held. If the results prove negative, it would spell the end of Advani's instrument, Venkaiah Naidu, as party president. A new team will take over, which would have a good eight months to prepare for the general elections. It could attempt, among other things, to bring about an Ayodhya settlement. If the genuine concerns of Muslims are addressed, a settlement is not impossible. To clinch it, Mulayam Singh could play a crucial role.

Thus the two tracks continue to run parallel. Will they converge or part?

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