CBI chief ruckus: BJP is barking up the wrong tree

Here’s one more instance how the BJP is trivialising its role as the main Opposition party by opposing every move of the government for the sake of opposition. On Friday, it expressed its strong disapproval of the government’s decision to appoint Ranjit Sinha, a 1974 batch officer, as the CBI chief. Sinha will take over charge from CBI director AP Singh whose tenure ends on 30 November.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively, have asked him to hold in abeyance the appointment of Sinha. The argument: the Select Committee's report on the contentious Lokpal Bill has just been tabled in Rajya Sabha. It recommends that the director of the investigation agency would be selected by a collegium comprising the Prime Minister, leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India. When the new selection process is ready what’s the point selecting someone on the basis of the one that is set to be discarded?

Is the strategy of the BJP flawed? PTI

As usual, the BJP says it suspects foul play in the government’s move. The CBI director stays in office for two years. If he is close to the government, then the agency becomes open to political manipulations. The party has been alleging for some time that the UPA has lost all moral right to stay in power and has been surviving because of the CBI. It is wary of the undue advantage of the government would derive by having its man in the top job.

There’s no denying that the CBI has been a tool of political manipulation, but the party’s argument is flawed on several counts. The Select Committee has just made its recommendations. It has to be discussed and cleared in Rajya Sabha and it goes to Lok Sabha next. Given the propensity of our leaders not to allow Parliament function, is there any guarantee that it would be cleared quickly? Assuming both the Houses manage to clear the bill, it will still take some time for the bureaucratic formalities leading up to the notification to be completed. Can the country afford to keep such an important organisation headless for that long?

Moreover, why presume that the next CBI head will be government stooge? The Chief Vigilance Commissioner shortlisted three out of 61 aspirants after due consideration, before finally approving the name of Sinha. If one goes on questioning every move of the government, there would be no end it. The government’s rebuttal of the BJP’s position is on similar lines.

V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the PMO, said, "Due procedure was followed by the government. The CVC sat and discussed three names that were finalised. The prime minister considered Sinha as the senior-most. It was a fair selection, following a due process. Where is the question on unfairness in this?’’ He accused the BJP was behaving irresponsibly.

It’s justified. BJP’s adherence to adversarial politics is eroding its credibility as a reliable political alternative to the Congress. With Congress in so much trouble, what with charges of corruption and misgovernance, it should be riding high on public support at this point. But why does it appear that the faster the party moves, the more its looks rooted to where it was five years ago? It is something for the BJP to reflect upon.