Shortly after the Narendra Modi led BJP government completes the one year mark hailed as corruption-free, the ruling party has been drawn into a raging controversy after four of its Ministers, all women, coming under the fire for allegations of corruption and impropriety.
The BJP had won single handedly in the Lok Sabha elections last year decimating the Congress and establishing the Modi regime. But it wasn’t the highly exaggerated ‘Modi appeal’ or the Sangh Parivar’s extreme fanaticism but the increasing resentment towards the UPA government and the Congress that has compelled the people to choose the BJP government. The vigorous campaigns initiated by Modi against the Congress sparked by the civil protests led by Anna Hazare over the financial irregularities and graft by the Ministers of the UPA government forced even the traditional allies of the Congress to break away from the party. But the recent corruption allegations against four of its Ministers namely Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje, Smriti Irani and Pankaja Munde have landed the NDA government in a tight spot.
India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajastan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje are facing trouble for their links with former IPL Chief Lalit Modi. Modi who faces several charges of financial impropriety has been wanted by the Enforcement Directorate. He fled the country in 2010 citing threats to his family and has since stayed there. Swaraj has been facing flak for putting pressure on the British authorities in 2014 for helping Modi obtain the travel papers to Portugal for the treatment of his cancer stricken wife. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had strongly backed Swaraj rubbishing the allegations against her. Raje is also facing trouble for giving undue favours to Modi after a letter bearing her signature supporting his immigration application in the UK surfaced. She has been BJP’s trump card in Rajasthan leading the party to its biggest victory winning three fourths of the seats in the state Assembly. Raje had also created a record by helping the party win all 25 seats in the 2014 parliamentary elections. She had signed the affidavit while on a visit to Britain under BJP senior Minister Nitin Gadkari. The document that surfaced has also revealed Raje saying that she would assist Modi only on ‘the strict condition’ that her assistance ‘will not become known to the Indian authority”. Congress leader Sachin Pilot said that BJP’s ‘double standard’ has been exposed and that Raje should ‘resign without any delay’.
The Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani has been under fire after a Delhi court accepted a complaint filed against her for allegedly furnishing false information about her educational qualifications in affidavits she had filed before the Election Commission in 2004, 2011 and 2014. She had claimed to have a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2004, but subsequently filed in 2011 and 2014 that she studied only the first year of a B.Com course. Another BJP Minister in Maharashtra Pankaja Munde, daughter of senior BJP Minister Gopinath Munde, was accused of a scam in the purchase of food items and other materials for government-run schools for tribal children. She allegedly cleared 24 government contracts worth Rs 206 crore on a single day without inviting tenders for any of them. Munde has denied any wrong doing and said she was ready to face any investigation. The Opposition has demanded fair probe into the matter and resignation of all the accused Ministers. The BJP despite all the allegations against its Ministers back them. But the party has still not been able to rightly defend the claims. While the previous UPA government was in trouble due to their links with the corrupt and the criminals, these developments show that the NDA government is no different. The beef ban, Yoga promotions, over emphasis on learning Sanskrit and Geetha and the much hyped ‘Surya Namaskar’ are all part of deliberate attempts by the Hindutwa forces to distract the public consciousness from the fact that the regime too is not free of corruption.