BJP has flipped under Narendra Modi: ‘Sins’ of corruption, nepotism get red-carpet welcome now

Decade in power, BJP has flipped: Sitharaman’s “all are welcome” take on the tainted to Modi’s defence of "unconstitutional" electoral bonds.

ByAnusha Ravi Sood

Published Apr 03, 2024 | 7:00 AMUpdatedApr 03, 2024 | 3:34 PM

Prime Minister Modi along with other BJP leaders at the BJP national convention meet

  • How it started: “A party with a difference!” 
  • How it’s going: “A party with a difference?”

The words are all the same. Yet, in 10 years, an exclamation has turned into a question mark. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has changed on some counts and flipped entirely on others.

It is Modi’s changing stance on things that have driven the metamorphosis that BJP has undergone.

Once taboo, political dynasts and leaders tainted by allegations of corruption are no longer a no-no for BJP. All are acceptable, all are welcome with electoral calculations in mind.

From bowing before the Constitution after his re-election in 2019 to now defending electoral bonds that have been deemed “unconstitutional”, Modi has changed his stance as well.

Also Read: The Prime Minister may huff and puff, but Tamil Nadu remains lukewarm

From 2014 to 2024: Everybody is now welcome

When he became the face of BJP’s election campaign and then assumed the chair of prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi spoke of two big “evils plaguing India”: Corruption and dynasty politics, aka nepotism. He vowed to eradicate both deeming corruption as a “sin and disease.”

Ten years down the line, under his unquestionable leadership, corruption and dynasty politics are not just tolerable to BJP but welcomed warmly — with a red carpet rolled out. 

In his Independence Day speech last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi deemed “corruption”, “nepotism”, and “appeasement” as three sins that harmed the country.

Yet, throughout the 10 years in power, BJP has welcomed leaders — from Himanta Biswa Sarma to Ajit Pawar — it previously accused of corruption.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, BJP even allied with parties that it previously mocked for “parivarwaad” (nepotism). From JD(S) in Karnataka to RLD in Uttar Pradesh, BJP is an ally of “parivaarwad” parties.

At least that is what Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in an interaction with a news channel’s anchor recently. Sitharaman, unabashedly said: “BJP is welcoming everyone.”

When the anchor asked: “Those tainted by corruption?”, “Those who have 9 CBI cases against them?”, Sitharaman simply said “the party is welcoming everybody” ,leaving even the anchor stunned.

Barely a day before the finance minister said the party welcomed everyone, including the tainted, Narendra Modi in another interview justified the “unconstitutional” electoral bonds. “If a (money) trail is available today, it is because of the presence of bonds,” Modi said, leaving out the fact that the trail was public only due to the Supreme Court’s intervention. His government had vehemently opposed pleas seeking transparency in the scheme.

BJP, as it turned out, was the biggest beneficiary of the electoral bonds schemes — something that has been deemed the “biggest scam in the world” by economists like Parakala Prabhakar.

Also Read: BJP, Congress use lawyers’ letter citing ‘pressure’ on judiciary

Nepotism no longer a no-no

For years, BJP has continuously mocked “father-son-grandson” parties. It hasn’t spared “political dynasts” as well — right from Rahul Gandhi to Udhayanidhi Stalin.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the same BJP has gone knocking on the doors of fathers, sons, and grandsons to forge alliances, and has welcomed “dynasts” from other parties.

From TDP in Andhra Pradesh to JD(S) in Karnataka, factions of Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra to PMK and TMC in Tamil Nadu, “family-run” parties are no longer a no-no.

From Anil Antony in Kerala to Jyothiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh, all “dynasts” that were “bad” in Opposition parties are “good” for BJP.

Nepotism isn’t an “imported” concept for BJP either. For a party that went to town against “nepotism”, “dynasty politics”, “one-family rule”, BJP is facing rebellion in Karnataka for complete dependence on one family.

For the first time, BJP leaders are up in arms publicly against BS Yediyurappa, with his one son as the BJP state president (BY Vijayendra) and another as a Lok Sabha candidate (BY Raghavendra).

The BJP candidate list for Lok Sabha elections — whether in Karnataka or Maharashtra — is filled with “dynasts” for candidates.

From anointing himself the champion of a war against corruption and nepotism, Narendra Modi has come a long way in making space for those accused of corruption and dynasty politics in his party.

Does BJP of 2014 recognise BJP of 2024 anymore?