New Delhi, Feb 18: Is Markandey Katju helping the NDA strengthening its front? Not unlikely. The way the Press Council of India chairman is attacking non-Congress leaders (Narendra Modi being the latest victim), it seems he is doing the anti-Congress forces more good than harm. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, also a lawyer himself, made use of the opportunity by hinting that the former Supreme Court was playing a role to facilitate the Congress.
Katju, it may be mentioned here, criticised chief ministers of Bihar and West Bengal in the past on issues like governance and freedom of press. About Modi, he said he did not believe that the Gujarat CM was not involved in the Gujarat riots of 2002.
Taking a dig at Katju, Jaitley said: "Retired judges must remember that the rental for occupying a Lutyen's bungalow post-retirdment has to be political neutrality, no political participation." The PCI chief, however, did not spare the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. He said Jaitley should resign from politics since he is not fit for it.
But whatever be the war of words, political observers feel that the BJP was trying to cash in on tn the episode politically. The party has found a chance to bring anti-Congress forces together by showing solidarity for chief ministers like Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee. Kumar, although an ally in the NDA, is known for his anti-Modi stand while Banerjee is currently leading a life of political isolation after she pulled out from the UPA government last September. The BJP believes that Katju's attack against all the three non-Congress CMs could narrow the gap between Kumar and Modi and between Banerjee and BJP.
Through this 'uniting against a common enemy' strategy, the BJP will try to project itself as the leader of the anti-Congress front and accordingly, can gain an upper hand, both inside and outside the Parliament, if the situation so demands. Congress leader Digvijay Singh's supporting Katju could boost the ties between the non-Congress leaders further.
Both Jaitley and Modi would also feel grateful to Katju for giving them a chance to reassert their respective positions in the party. While Jaitley showed through his retaliation that he was as close to Kumar as he was to Modi, the Gujarat CM, who is aspiring to play a bigger role in the national politics, conveyed through supporting Jaitley a positive message to both the Bihar and Bengal chief ministers about the prospects of a future alliance.
Words can do wonders. Somebody has rightly said.