Not long ago,Subramaniam Swamy was an incorrigible accuser. He made the wild and unsubstantiated allegations of Sonia Gandhi being a “foreign spy” and stopped short of labelling all Muslims as traitors. These days, when he addresses the media, satraps in the government quake in their boots.
If the 2G scam is the UPA-II’s nemesis, it is because ofSwamy. Whenever it appears that the scam has felled its last perpetrator, the economist- cumpolitician whips out some damning document out of nowhere to put another powerful politician in the dock. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram will agree.
The CBI filed the FIR in the2G scam two years back in October 2009, on the directions of the Central Vigilance Commission. But the FIR did not mention any name and it pressed the pause button on its probe after registering the case.
The Janata Party chief first wrote a series of letters starting from November 2008 to the Prime Minister, drawing his attention to what could turn out to be India’s biggest loot patronised by one of his cabinet colleagues, A. Raja. He received assurances from Singh but no follow-up action.
Swamy then went to Supreme Court and also filed a criminal complaint against Raja in a Tis Hazari court in December 2010. The apex court asked the CBI to prepare a detailed note on its probe and began monitoring it.
The CBI was forced to resume its probe in right earnest. Raja’s arrest on February 2 this year was a logical culmination of Swamy’s charges against him.
Swamy has now called for the prosecution of Chidambaram who as finance minister, he alleged, was in collusion with Raja. The government, as usual, is dismissive. The apex court has taken note of Swamy’s plea and will hear the matter on October 10.
Swamy also had a hand in the recent dust-up between Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. The finance ministry’s secret note questioning Chidambaram’s role in the allocation of the 2G spectrum came into the public domain only after Swamy placed it before the Supreme Court.
All about Janata Party chief Subramaniam Swamy
Consistency and credibility have never really been Subramaniam Swamy’s virtues. He has accused Sonia Gandhi of smuggling antiques, Harkishan Singh Surjeet of corruption, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Congress leader Arjun Singh of conspiring to derail the Rajiv Gandhi assassination trial, Vajpayee of getting drunk at an official function, and much more, without ever proving these charges. Yet, Swamy is now in the news for digging up hard evidence exposing the sins of commission and omission of UPA ministers in the 2G spectrum allotment scandal.
Maverick for many, evil incarnate for his detractors, Swamy is the epitome of opportunism in public life.
Swamy believes in alliances of convenience than in everlasting friendships. It could be Sonia Gandhi one day and the RSS the next. All that matters to him, it seems, is his immediate objective. Unlike most politicians of his vintage, Swamy, in his career of four decades in national politics, was never keen to build a constituency or shape an idea. He was always out to get someone, bring down a government or finish off an enemy, even if that enemy was a potential ally.
Now he is a great friend of the Hindutva forces, an avowed soldier of the Sangh Parivar and a true ally of the BJP in his singleminded pursuit of the 2G scamsters. But not long ago, on March 29, 1999, he held a tea party at The Ashok in Delhi, where Sonia Gandhi was his guest of honour. The sole purpose of the party as Jayalalithaa described it then, was to bring down the first Sangh Parivar government at the Centre, which was not even a year old.
Vajpayee is a terribly consistent friend who never forgives his foes. He had fallen out with Swamy when they were together in the Jan Sangh during the Emergency, when Swamy’s evasion of arrest gave him a hero’s halo. Despite Swamy’s Ph.D. from Harvard, his communication skills in English, Hindi and Tamil and his links abroad, the Sangh chose Vajpayee as foreign minister and L.K. Advani as information and broadcasting minister.
Then, ideology never shackled Swamy in his pursuit of power. He soon left the Parivar and ploughed the socialist fields of opportunistic politics in the Gangetic plains with Chandra Shekhar. Though he was the Jan Sangh’s Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh in 1974, and had later won two Lok Sabha polls from Mumbai North- East, he could become a cabinet minister only in 1991, that too briefly in the Chandra Shekhar government, propped up by Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress.
So WHEN he won the Madurai seat in 1998 with Jayalalithaa’s blessings (see the side story for his innumerable fights and patch-ups with the mercurial matron of Madras), Swamy thought that he would become a powerful minister in the Parivar government. But Vajpayee did not want him anywhere near his cabinet room.
So, Swamy turned secular, organised the tea party, orchestrated the political earthquake, got Jayalalithaa to withdraw support and aligned with Sonia Gandhi to bring the Vajpayee government down, of course, all this over important national issues.
The then defence minister George Fernandes’s arbitrary and unreasonable sacking of the navy chief, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, came in handy along with allegations of corruption.
It took several years for the prodigal son to return to the Hindutva home, and coincidentally, it happened only after Vajpayee faded away from the Parivar power structure. In late 2006, Subramanian Swamy was enthusiastically welcomed back to the Hindutva fold by the former RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan at a function to launch Swamy’s book, Hindus Under Siege, at the India International Centre. Since then he has been attacking Sonia Gandhi and her family, including her sisters.
SWAMY, as if to reaffirm his long lost Hindutva credentials, recently wrote a venomous newspaper article, ‘How to wipe out Islamic terror’, which sounded more like inflammatory communal propaganda inciting violence against a religion than any analysis: “Remove the masjid in Kashi Vishwanath temple and the 300 masjids at other temple sites â€¦ Implement the uniform civil code, make learning of Sanskrit and singing of Vande Mataram mandatory, and declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus. Rename India Hindustan as a nation of Hindus and those whose ancestors were Hindus.”
To be fair to the man who now wants to steal the voting rights of the minorities, he has always been consistent in his opposition to the anti-Brahminical politics of Periyar in Tamil Nadu. When Jayalalithaa got the Kanchi Shankaracharya arrested for murder, Swamy defended the alleged murderer, which probably helped him build bridges with the RSS again. Right or wrong, reasonable or rabidly communal, Swamy always barges into the news rooms, grabbing eyeballs and headlines, shaping the agenda for the demise of yet another government.