Uploaded on June  06, 2007

Over the last few days we have been subjected to a graceless BJP show of bad conduct. Day in and day out BJP folk have been harping on alleged flaws in the UPA’s presidential candidate and her family.

One of the things the BJP and its parent organisation are good at (besides building up communal frenzy, of course) is vicious mud slinging against their opponents. True to its old habit, the BJP went on a fault-finding mission against the UPA candidate from the day the alliance fielded her.

We hold no brief for Ms. Pratibha Patil, or anybody else. However, we are sure that the BJP, as usual, started its anti-Patil campaign with mala fide intent. It even went to the Election Commission demanding declaration of assets by Ms. Patil. It failed to thwart her with this tactic. Then someone went to court against her. The court rightly dismissed the plaint.

The BJP was terribly upset by the fact that Ms. Pratibha Patil’s husband is a Shekhawat and can potentially undermine the BJP candidate’s (also a Shekhawat) support base. India being as caste-ridden as it is, this is no idle fear. Then there is the malaise of regionalism, which has led BJP ally Shiv Sena to part ways with it and vote for the fellow Maratha Ms. Patil. That bothers the BJP no end.

Whatever the case, we expect dignified conduct when it comes to electing the President of India. BJP conduct has been anything but dignified. It always starts a mudslinging match without realising that it is a game that two can play. When the other side starts playing the game, it is the first to call for a truce.

This is exactly what is happening today. Now that the UPA has taken up the BJP candidate Mr. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s record for public scrutiny this party’s enthusiasm has suddenly evaporated. Recently a TV channel dug out the fact that Mr. Shekhawat during his chief ministership of Rajasthan had used his authority to drop a court case against himself. The court had even issued summons against him. To his discredit, Mr. Shekhawat was also dismissed from police service in 1957 for bad conduct. Thanks to BJP’s enthusiasm for character assassination of the opponent its own candidate has been put in the dock.

In the not so distant past the BJP had been raising accusing fingers at Congress leaders in a cheap, disrespectful manner. Fed up with their antics the Congress Party brought out the official records of the arrest and release of Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee when he was still a student. The "patriotic" Mr. Vajpayee was on record obtaining release from British captivity by betraying fellow students. He had pleaded that he was not part of a group of young freedom fighters but an innocent bystander mistakenly caught by the police. He declared before the officials that he had nothing to do with the country’s freedom struggle. That cooled the BJP enthusiasm and Mr. Vajpayee sanely made an appeal that personal attacks should not be part of the political culture.

All said and done, let it be clear that we don’t support a public figure getting involved in shady deals and corrupt practices, be it Patil or Shekhawat. Corruption and misconduct have no place in public life.

 Mohd. Zeyaul Haque

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