Has the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) top brass issued an informal warning to its maverick leader, Subramanian Swamy, after his tirade against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and top functionaries of his ministry? There is no formal warning to Swamy yet. But, looking at the pattern of Swamy’s tweets and public comments over the last two days, one get a sense that Swamy has somewhat softened his stance on Jaitley.
On Friday evening, replying to a tweet, Swamy said, he made “no remarks on Jaitley. This lie is media driven."
This seems to a strategy by Swamy to play safe before the BJP leadership and pass the blame to the media on this.
Earlier, Swamy had targeted Jaitley in a series of tweets but without naming him.
Jaitley was the only minister touring abroad when Swamy made this comment and he was in a ‘coat and tie’. Jaitley had criticised Swamy’s attacks on Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian and Economic Affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das, terming it unfair and urged Swamy to exercise restraint. But the 76-year-old leader then gave an indirect but explicit warning to Jaitley that there would have been a “bloodbath” if he disregarded discipline.
Swamy had also made it clear that he is not answerable to Jaitley and would explain to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president, Amit Shah, when required. “Jaitleyji, kya bole kya nahi bole iss se mujhe kya lena dena. Will talk to the party president and PM when required, right now it’s not needed as I’ve said what I had to say,” Swamy said when reporters cited Jaitley’s remarks to him.
Swamy’s attacks on Jaitley, one of the major power centres of BJP, and his trusted sentinels in finance ministry — Chief economic advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian and economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das — has indeed caused Flutter in the party circles and an embarrassment to the leadership, perhaps prompting them to think it was time to draw the line.
Both the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the party’s ideological parent, were largely fine with Swamy’s attacks on Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan (which ultimately resulted in Rajan deciding not to take up a second term). There were many unhappy faces on Rajan’s political comments and criticism of Modi government on certain areas.
But, there does not seem to be agreement even from RSS on Swamy’s attacks on same side that could prove counter-productive to the party, especially at a time when PM is on a foreign tour and the political headwinds are somewhat favourable for the party to pursue its large agenda on economic reforms (mainly GST) and consolidation of its presence across the country benefiting from the weakness of its rival, the Congress party.
The displeasure of BJP and RSS with Swamy’s finance ministry attacks could also be due to the fact Swamy’s allegations do not really hold much water. In the case of Das, Swamy has not offered any strong evidence to prove that Das allegedly facilitated P Chidambaram’s land deal in Mahabalipuram. In the case of Subramanian too, where Swamy has accused the CEA of siding the US companies during a 2013 testimony to US congress, Swamy is on weak grounds as Firstpost noted in this article .
BJP would not want the problem to escalate the Swamy problem beyond this point since it could set free other motor mouths in the party, especially the Hindu hardliners, who would take Swamy as an example and excuse to initiate similar episodes, causing further distractions to the party and the government.