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|August 13, 2001|
They say it is the beginning of the BJP's end.
Speak to a cross-section of the Sangh Parivar biggies. And you find them completely dissatisfied with the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
Some even say the saffron cause has been hurt, and not helped, with the BJP coming to power in New Delhi.
The UTI scam has affected a large chunk of the party's middle-class vote bank. With over 20 million investors in the US-64 scheme, most of them based in urban and semi-urban areas that have traditionally supported it, the BJP lost a lot of goodwill thanks to its decision not to offer UTI a second bailout.
Which could be why this senior RSS leader, opening his heart to us, lamented: "It would have been better if the BJP had not come to power at the Centre. That way they would not have forfeited the benefit of doubt that they could provide a better government than the Congress. Now nobody will trust them when they talk of a clean government."
Significantly, the performance of BJP state governments too has been dismal. Leading the pack is Keshubhai Patel in Gujarat. Senior Sangh Parivar leaders are unanimous the party will fail to win even one-fifth of the seats if Patel is left in charge.
In Punjab, where the BJP shares power as a junior partner with the Akali Dal, the coalition is headed for a rout. Ditto for the BJP-led coalition in Uttar Pradesh -- an opinion poll by a leading weekly predicts a conquest of the BJP in the coming poll.
With such writings on the wall, you would think the BJP leaders, whom insiders call 'lotus-eaters', would sit up and take notice. But no, not them! Such is their mental and physical paralysis that they don't even blink!
Could this be why the perennially grimacing Sonia Gandhi is beginning to wear a smile these days?
His day in ParliamentBSP Lok Sabha member Rashid Alvi was in full flow the other day.
During the debate on the UTI scam, he turned on Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha.
"You started out as the man of a controversial industrial house," he said. "But now that you have named them in one of the biggest scams, you have lost their confidence. Be warned. Soon you stand to lose your job as FM!"
Sinha could only grin and bear the barb.
A couple of days later, Alvi focussed on Telecom Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. "You were ready to surrender to them [the said industrial house]. And you were all set to refund them the license fees they had forfeited till the media intervened...."
Paswan too, like Sinha before him, could only squirm as Alvi launched his onslaught.
Sushma's little list
Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj has furnished a list of scribes to Doordarshan and All India Radio. Only these selected few will now be called for various current affairs programmes.
A little birdie tells us most are either friends of Sushma or her husband Swaraj Kaushal, an Opposition member of the Rajya Sabha who never misses a chance to criticise the Vajpayee government -- of course, in areas which do not fall in his highly ambitious wife's jurisdiction.
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