Advani is a father figure in the BJP: his words, no matter how unpleasant, cannot be shrugged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the past two weeks Advani has conveyed two terse messages, albeit indirect, tangential and nameless, to Modi. One, in which he did not rule out declaration of an internal emergency as “forces that can crush democracy have become stronger in India”. Although he did not name anyone, there was hardly any mistaking that the remark was aimed at Narendra Modi who has alone acquired a near-absolute power over the government with a crushing majority in the Lok Sabha and over the party with Amit Shah as president. Obviously Advani’s remark could not have been targeted at Congress, because with its presence miniaturized in the Lok Sabha it hardly looks like the “forces that have become stronger in India that can crush democracy”.
On Sunday Advani delivered another message to Modi: “In our Jan Sangh days – even before that, in RSS shakhas – we were taught honesty is the best virtue… Protecting people’s trust is the biggest responsibility for a political leader. ‘Rajdharma’ is what morality demands of a political leader.” It was the second time and second father figure of BJP reminding Modi of raj dharma. In 2002 after the Gujarat riots, the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had asked Modi to follow rajdharma, expecting him to work for the protection and progress of people of all communities. Advani’s remark cannot be detached from the context of the LalitGate affair in which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje have been charged with violating rules and norms for granting favours to former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi who is the kingpin of the IPL betting scam. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not spoken a word on the correctness or otherwise of the actions of Swaraj and Raje. The epithet of ‘Maun Mohan’ which Narendra Modi used to hurl at former prime minister Manmohan Singh has boomeranged on him. The Congress now calls him ‘Maun Modi’.
We wish Narendra Modi heeds Advani’s message and takes action against Swaraj and Raje. Sushma Swaraj has absolutely no defence. She has acted privately on behalf of the country! Who is she to tell the British government that India would have no objection, no bitterness if they issue travel documents to Lalit Modi? How can a minister bypass her ministry, finance and home ministries, and the Prime Minister to pick up the phone to speak to a foreign government claiming to represent India? Even Prime Minister Modi is not authorized by any article of the Constitution or rules of business to act privately to represent India to a foreign government. Why did Swaraj have to bypass everyone if she was doing the right thing and only helping an “Indian in distress” as BJP apologists are saying? Her secrecy raises serious doubts about her intention. Similarly, Raje swears a witness affidavit in a UK court favouring immigration of Lalit Modi, telling them her statement should not be known to the “Indian authorities”. The defence of BJP spokesmen – she meant the then Congress-led UPA government and not ‘India’ when she mentioned ‘Indian authorities’ – is pathetic. To a foreign nation, India, Indian government and Indian authorities are one and the same, regardless of which party is running the government. Both Swaraj and Raje have misrepresented India. Advani suggests in other words: they have flouted the RSS teaching: honesty is not the best virtue for them. And Modi is losing people’s trust by keeping ‘maun’ and letting the two continue in their offices. Advani has no powers over Modi to make him follow rajdharma. But he will not stop conveying to Modi that “I warned you in advance”.