Prime Minister's explanation is not acceptable and BJP will take it to people's court

Persisting differences in the stance of the two Leaders of Opposition, Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha, led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari to lay down the “party line” on the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) affair: the Prime Minister's explanation was not acceptable, the party remains dissatisfied and will continue to raise the issue among the people.

Although he said he did not perceive any differences and there was “no contradiction” between the stands taken by the two leaders, he clearly came down on the side of Mr. Jaitley when, without an if and a but, he said he was far from satisfied with the statements made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament. “The CVC issue is not over. We will take it to the people's court. I am dissatisfied [with his responses].”

Earlier, Ms. Swaraj's articulation had been clearly different. She had said she “appreciated” the Prime Minister owning responsibility and it was time to “let matters rest” in the case after the Supreme Court had quashed the appointment of P.J. Thomas as CVC last September. The court had said the process of selection had been vitiated as the fact of his involvement in a corruption case had not been placed before the high-level selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Mr. Jaitley, on the other hand, had said he was “dissatisfied” with the Prime Minister's responses in Parliament.

Mr. Gadkari was responding to questions from reporters at a press conference he held here on Wednesday to announce a nationwide party campaign against corruption, inflation and black money. Of course, as soon as a question was put to him on corruption in Karnataka, the press conference ended as chief party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said “no more questions” while ushering Mr. Gadkari out. But before that he fielded a volley of questions on the CVC affair and the two different “lines” in the party.

On the BJP refraining from demanding the Prime Minister's resignation after he accepted “responsibility” and said he was also “accountable” for the fiasco, Mr. Gadkari said: “Sensitive persons can decide [for] themselves.” After all, he had said as Minister of the Department of Personnel and Training that had drawn up the short-list of names to be considered for the CVC's post, along with their bio-data, he was “accountable” for the DOPT lapse (in not mentioning the palmolein oil case against Mr. Thomas).

Mr. Gadkari noted the Prime Minister had also tried to “pass the blame” on to his former Minister of State, Prithviraj Chavan, who is currently the Maharashtra Chief Minister. Mr. Gadkari wondered at the state of affairs with the Centre blaming a Chief Minister who blames the Kerala government for not carrying out the vigilance requirement necessary before appointing him Chief Secretary. Contrary to what Ms. Swaraj had said on Twitter that matters should now be allowed to rest, Mr. Gadkari made it clear the party would continue to rake up the issue in public.

BJP's Twitter ban?

Had Mr. Gadkari asked his party leaders not to tweet? He told the questioner it was a suggestion from him, but the BJP was a democratic party. The indication was he was not going to order anyone to stop, but some party leaders later said the addiction to quick comments on Twitter would “phase out.”

For the BJP, it was time to go to the people to exploit the credibility crisis the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was suffering from with the Supreme Court pulling up the government on a daily basis.

“It was a total failure of the system and a total failure of governance. The UPA will have to answer the people,” Mr. Gadkari said.

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