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Will BJP And Arun Jaitley Practice What They Seek To Preach?

That leaders of his own party were busy collecting electoral brownie points over the Balakot air strikes, doesn’t seem to matter to the blog minister.

I had jotted down my response to Arun Jaitley’s latest blog a couple of days ago, then shelved it, due to the tense Indo–Pak situation. I felt it wasn’t the right time to publish anything that is, even slightly critical of the incumbent government and the prime minister, the feeling was, India should be seen to be speaking in one voice. Then, last evening, Arun Jaitley in a series of tweets, lambasted the opposition, ostensibly for politicising the developing situation, post-Pulwama and Balakote air strikes.

The joint statement by leaders of the opposition Arun Jaitley alludes to, had expressed support for the government in the standoff with Pakistan, but had asked, that leaders of opposition be kept in the loop on the developing situation, as is the norm.  That leaders of his own party, the BJP, were busy, the prime minister downward, trying to collect electoral brownie points over the air strikes at Balakot, doesn’t seem to matter to Arun Jaitley.

Last week, Congress President Rahul Gandhi appointed Lt Gen DS Hooda (Retd.), to head a committee that would advise the party on National Security Policy. Hooda has had a long and illustrious career in the armed forces, is credited with supervising the cross – border surgical strikes in 2016 & brings with himself a vast body of experience, no one can fault his appointment.

Then and not unexpectedly, came Arun Jaitely’s blog, advising Lt Gen DS Hooda on what the latter should advise the Congress President, shorn of all the prose, the blog basically meant to convey three things:

  1. Do not politicize national security
  2. Do not trivialize national security
  3. Stamp down hard on illegal immigration.

Basically, the advice Arun Jaitely has tried to pass on to the Congress President is sound and is the way it should be, but have the BJP and Arun Jaitely practiced what they seek to preach ?

For this let us have a look at a couple of events, from when the Bharatiya Janata Party was in opposition & match them with what Arun Jaitely is advising.

“Do not give an impression to the world that India is divided on how to fight terrorism. When the world is rallying around India, the Opposition in India should not be striking a discordant note”, advises Mr. Jaitley, but during the Gujarat 2017 assembly elections, Narendra Modi internationalised domestic politics by accusing former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice President Hamid Ansari and many other distinguished citizens of India, of conspiring with Pakistan, against himself and the Bharatiya Janta Party.

Mr Jaitely had to read out a clarification in parliament later.

Mr. Jaitely proceeds to advise the principle opposition party, on not trivializing matters of serious national concern. “Do not trivialize a serious national concern on terrorism as has been done by the Congress Spokespersons in the past two days”, he says & yet just a day after the 26/11 operations in ended in Mumbai, the Bharatiya Janata Party had tried to capitalize on the gruesome terror attacks in the Delhi assembly elections, by issuing full front page advertisements, depicting splattered blood stains.

A day earlier, Mr. Narendra Modi, then the chief minister of Gujarat, had landed in Mumbai & proceeded to the Hotel Taj and held a press conference on the street, opposite the Taj, at a time when operations were still on and commandos were fighting it out, inside the hotel. If the BJP’s conduct during 26/11 wasn’t politicizing terror, what is?

We then come to Jaitley’s homily on illegal immigration, “Do not encourage indiscriminate illegal immigration into India and block steps which are taken to stop it. It hurts national security”, and yet the Bharatiya Janata Party vociferously opposed the Constitution (One Hundred Nineteenth) Amendment Bill 2013, more commonly known as the Indo–Bangla Land Border Agreement, negotiated by Dr Manmohan Singh.  The Indo–Bangla Land Border Agreement sought to rationalize the adverse enclaves held by both countries, deep into each other’s territories and thus help in clamping down on the vexatious issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh to India. In letter submitted to the secretary of the Rajya Sabha and simultaneously posted it on his Facebook page, Jaitley put down his opposition to the land swap as under.

“My opposition to this Bill is on the ground of legislative competence of the Indian parliament to amend the Constitution & thereby alter the territories of India. The power to amend the Constitution is restricted by Article 368 of the Constitution. This implies the basic structure of the Constitution cannot be altered. My opposition is based on the ground that post 1973 when the basic structure doctrine was introduced by the Supreme Court, the territory of India is an inherent part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Territory of India is a part of the Constitution. It cannot be reduced or altered by an amendment to the Constitution”.

By the convoluted logic Jaitley placed on record in parliament, even the merger of Sikkim into India, wouldn’t have been possible. The BJP simultaneously whipped up passions in Assam, against the exchange of territories in the state, with BJP leaders hoisting the national flag, at various places along the border. When the BJP finally came to power, Modi resuscitated the same bill and even then, fearing a backlash in Assam which was due to go to the polls, the BJP kept Assam out of the land swap accord, it was only after the Congress threatened to block the bill in the Rajya Sabha, if the entire land swap issue wasn’t sorted out with Bangladesh in one go, that even Assam was included and the bill was passed.

After parliament passed the Indo–Bangla land swap bill, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj stated in parliament that the bill was passed in the very form that it was negotiated by Dr. Manmohan Singh, without even a comma or full stop being changed and walked up to Dr. Manmohan Singh to congratulate him. The bill was passed, but only after years had lapsed in the interim. Jaitley meanwhile quietly deleted his Facebook blog on the topic.

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