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The 'Methodical Madness' Of Subramanian Swamy

Sutanu Guru tries to find a common thread in the many actions and utterances of the 'maverick' economist-turned-activist-turned-politician-turned-lawyer-turned-anti-corruption crusader

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Maverick is just one of the more polite term used by his legions of critics. Some other pejoratives that Subramanian Swamy has attracted in his remarkable career are loose cannon, bull in a China shop, anti-Muslim bigot, attention seeker....the list can go on. But when the Supreme Court ordered a four year jail term for Sasikala, Swamy added another feather to his cap. It was Swamy who had first filed an official complaint in 1996 against the late J. Jayalalithaa and Sasikala on charges of corruption and disproportionate assets.

When it comes to the case, Swamy has been dogged and relentless in his pursuit. But does that make him a lifelong activist against Jayalalithaa? Not by any stretch. In 1998, the AIADMK led by Jayalalithaa joined the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee after fighting Lok Sabha elections as an alliance partner. Within a year, Subramanian Swamy organized a "tea party" meeting between Jayalalithaa and the then newly anointed official boss of Congress, Sonia Gandhi. Jayalalithaa withdrew support and the Vajpayee government lost a vote of confidence. And yet, it is the same Swamy who has used arguably offensive and derogatory words to describe Sonia Gandhi.

In fact, the most defining battle of Swamy's career is perhaps his pursuit of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the alleged scam involving National Herald. In 2012, Swamy made startling revelations about events in National Herald, a newspaper founded by Jawaharlal Nehru. By 2009, the paper was virtually extinct. But it owned extremely valuable real estate in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bhopal and Lucknow among others. Swamy accused the two Gandhis of forming a private company called Young India and using Congress party funds to take over the lucrative real estate assets. Most media pundits and so called Luytens Delhi denizens mocked Swamy for his "frivolous" and "attention" grabbing allegations against Sonia and Rahul.

But an undeterred Swamy went ahead and filed a case. To the shock of Congressmen and many in mainstream media who ha e thrived under Congress patronage, a lower court in 2014 ruled that there indeed was a "prima facie" case made out against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, along with some of their aides like Sam Pitroda. Motilal Vora and Suman Dubey. The enormity of the issue has been underplayed in the media, but the fact remains that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are now accused in a case of cheating and fraud and are out on bail.

Some Congress sympathizers accuse Swamy of nurturing an irrational hatred for the Gandhis. In fact, they claim that all this is a result of his militant Hinduism. Indeed, Swamy is openly fighting for the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. He is an outspoken critic of Islamism. In fact, an opinion piece he wrote some years ago on the issue was "decreed" to be so full of anti-Muslim bigotry that even his alma mater Harvard University refused to host him. But then, it is the same Swamy who is waging a battle for justice for victims of the notorious Hashimpura massacre. In 1987, close of 50 Muslim men near Meerut were shot in cold blood by UP cops. After a series of protracted trials, the accused ha e been acquitted and most activists have given up. But Swamy is doggedly pursuing the case to bring the UP cops to book and deliver justice to families of the Muslim men who were shot dead. Why would he do all this if Swamy was just a plain anti-Muslim bigot?

Call him entertaining or exasperating. But "mavericks" like Swamy play an important role in a noisy and imperfect democracy like India where the high and mighty often use the weak Justice delivery system to escape scrutiny. Swamy keeps many of them on their toes! In a tweet after the Supreme Court verdict, the irrepressible Swamy said that now that Sasikala is in jail, he will focus on Sonia & Rahul Gandhi, P Chidambaram and his son Kartik and Ratan Tata! Expect more judicial fireworks!