Has PM Modi Done In his Finance Minister?
PM Modi and FM Jaitley
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with a reputation for speaking in two voices, has clearly done a great disservice to his Finance Minister Arun Jaitley by comparing him to veteran BJP leader L.K.Advani who he said had come out squeaky clean from allegations in the hawala scam. But as the PM knew, perhaps better than the party MPs he was addressing, that by this comparison he would also draw attention to the fact that Advani had resigned from the Lok Sabha over the charges in 1996 and not contested the elections for two years.
The Opposition took up the issue almost immediately. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “"By drawing a parallel with Advani, the Prime Minister is giving a hint to Arun Jaitley that he should resign, get himself cleared and come back. I read it as a signal to Jaitley that you also do the same thing".Congress MP Digvijay Singh tweeted, "Modi: 'I am sure Arun Jaitley would come out clean as Advaniji did in Hawala case'. But would Jaitley resign as Advaniji did ? No question!"
Aam Aadmi party held a big demonstration to press for the Finance Minister’s resignation.
The BJP tried to refute this by pointing out that both cases different but no one was listening. Not even MP’s within the party with Shatrughan Sinha joining colleague Kirti Azad in demanding the Finance Minister’s resignation. He said that Jaitley should heed PM’s advice and follow Advani’s footsteps. He went on to describe Azad who just held a press conference releasing a video of charges against DDCA, as a hero. He tweeted, “KirtiAzad-hero of the day.Humble appeal to friends.Avoid knee jerk reaction/coercive action against friend who's fighting against corruption”
Significantly, Advani had spoken about his 1996 decision to resign earlier this year when charges of aiding and abetting Lalit Modi had created a crisis in the BJP involving Rajasthan chief minister Vasudhara Raje and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. Silent currently, the veteran leader had said then, “The decision to quit was mine. I feel political credibility is essential. People vote for us and we have to live up to their trust. In my life, I have always listened to my conscience.” He said that he had resigned even though colleague A.B.Vajpayee had asked him not to. “But I knew I had done nothing wrong… so I had no fear of anything. At that time, Narasimha Rao’s (Congress) government was trying to drag my name into the issue,” he had said just a few months ago.
Opposition MPs said that the issue of resignation might not have surfaced at this stage had the PM not given them a handle by comparing the current charges to those levelled against Advani nearly two decades ago. As a senior MP told The Citizen, “what was the need to do so, this was an old case, there have been many other cases with more similarities to the present recently. He did seem to be pointing to the fact that Advani had resigned, rather than the case per se.” Whatever be PM Modi’s intentions, he has managed to ensure that even BJP MPs join the opposition clamour for Jaitley’s resignation.