April 04, 2020
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Why It Doesn’t Wash

How many ways can a political party be caught with its pants down?

Why It Doesn’t Wash

How many ways can a political party be caught with its pants down? One, when a member is actually taped on video with his trousers off with a woman in bed. This happened to Sanjay Joshi, then general secretary in charge of the BJP’s organisation. At the 2005 national council meet of the BJP in Mumbai, the infamous Joshi sex tapes were delivered to the rooms of some delegates and journalists, including yours truly.

A complete violation of the man’s privacy, one must say. Problem was that, as an RSS pracharak, Joshi had sworn to lead a life of celibacy. He went underground for some years and has now been resurrected and asked to oversee the party’s Uttar Pradesh campaign. So much for the hypocrisy of pracharaks. The BJP, too, positions itself as the upholder of public morality. Its women leaders are often the very picture of the sindoor-wearing, Karva Chauth-observing Bharatiya Nari. Its women’s wing plays to the values and stereotypes associated with traditional Indian women. And an important religio-political icon of the Sangh parivar is Bharat Mata.

In spite of all the Sangh parivar humbug and its own moralising, the BJP has shown itself without a moral centre.

Now, some good men in the party have in one stroke not just violated the standards of private morality the party would like to uphold, but have done so in a public space that’s a hallowed institution of our democracy. Is there a collective staggering shame at the image of legislators sitting in the Karnataka assembly watching clips of pornography? Probably, there’s greater regret in the party that they got caught.

Reports say the mobile on which the porn clips were watched was passed to many, not just the three who got caught. The fact that one of them was the minister for women and child development should make us hang our heads in shame. The question is not of the private affairs of public men but of their attitude to public responsibility.

The BJP once claimed to be the party of Bhagwan Ram and “a party with a difference”. Now it’s an outfit without a moral centre in spite of all the RSS humbug. Karnataka itself has provided quite a spectacle of gross corruption, of a mining lobby that holds politics to ransom, of politicians who snatch and grab, of factional fights. And yes, they also watch porn.

The day after the porn show, the advocate-general of Karnataka, B.V. Acharya, resigned citing pressure from the BJP regime to quit as special public prosecutor in the disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalitha. Presumably, the BJP would like to keep Jayalalitha in good humour. Coalition politics is, after all, about quid pro quos.

The BJP today makes deals, its leaders rake in whenever possible. Just look at the record of regimes of Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in Uttarakhand (now replaced by B.C. Khanduri) or Arjun Munda in Jharkhand. It is after all a party whose ex-president Bangaru Laxman was caught taking a cash bribe of Rs 1 lakh. Pants don’t come off only when the trousers are unbuttoned.

E-mail your columnist: saba AT outlookindia.com

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