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A Swamy For The Gandhis: Modi's Plan For 'Congress-Mukt Bharat'

BJP's latest campaign against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi is headed by new Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy

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Congress members in the Rajya Sabha rose in unison on Wednesday when BJP’s Subramanian Swamy told the Upper House that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had been named in the court proceedings into the allegations of corruption in the AgustaWestland deal in Italy.

This was only expected.

After the BJP sensed an opportunity to pin the top Congress leadership after a reference to “Signora Gandhi” in an Italian court order, BJP members gave notices for full-fledged discussions on the AgustaWestland deal, in which former IAF chief S P Tyagi has been alleged to have received bribes.

After the Bofors allegations involving the later Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, this is for the first time that a whiff of scandal is being sensed against the former First Family.

This is no small incident. After the collapse of the Congress system in the late 1980s, and the emergence of many non-Congress governments, including BJP’s, an elite consensus had emerged in Delhi not to target the First Family. So, while the UPA 2 was regarded as the “most corrupt government of Independent India”, the buck stopped at Dr Manmohan Singh’s table, not Sonia Gandhi, even though she was the moral authority behind the government.

It’s precisely for this reason that the present charge of wrongdoing against the top Congress leadership puts the main opposition party squarely on the backfoot.

The present mood in the BJP – to go all out against the Gandhis – is closely linked to PM Narendra Modi’s "Congress-mukt slogan". Even as a Chief Minister, Modi used to routinely hit out at "Sonia Behen" and "Rahul Baba" for "bringing disrepute to Gujarat", in his election campaigns. It was Sonia who had called Modi "maut ke saudagar" (for his alleged role in the Gujarat riots).

The Modi-Amit Shah duo's plank against the Gandhis has taken off despite many well-wishers of the former First Family in the BJP. The Gandhis had managed to create an ecosystem whereby the Opposition BJP couldn’t touch them even with a bargepole.

Subramanian Swamy’s nomination as a Rajya Sabha MP (despite his antipathy for a few BJP bigwigs) was the clearest indication yet that the Modi government, and indeed the BJP, under Amit Shah, has declared an all-out war against the Gandhis, notwithstanding the Gandhis' "frenemies" in the BJP.

The Congress, which was planning to corner the BJP on a host of issues including the Uttarakhand imbroglio, suddenly appears nervous and tentative. Whether Modi’s – and BJP’s - anti-Gandhi plan plays out outside Parliament, too, in the days to come, remains to be seen.