MUMBAI: Even as BJP president Amit Shah’s book ‘Why BJP in Politics’ was being released at Pune last Sunday, complaints were filed against at least four party MLAs at various police stations across Maharashtra. The charges ranged from misbehavior with women to extortion and corruption.
A couple of days before the book release at Pune, Shivdutt Sharma, a road contractor from Yawatmal, had filed a complaint against Raju Todsam, the BJP MLA from Arni. Todsam’s admission that it was his voice in the audio clip released by Sharma, which had conversation about the bribe to be paid by the contractor for pending bills to be cleared, added to the embarrassment of the BJP leadership.
“The officers at the site must have conveyed some message regarding me to you. Please listen carefully and do accordingly,” Todsam was heard telling Sharma in the audio clip that went viral. Todsam told Sharma that his bills won’t get cleared if he oblige. Next, the contractor was heard pleading that he can’t pay `20 lakh to the MLA as he has to take care of his son who is lying in coma in a hospital for the last seven months, over which Todsam is heard saying, “I don’t care about your son”.
Towards the end of the conversation, when Sharma threatens the MLA to go to the police and press, comes the arrogant reply from the MLA, “Why don’t you go to the CM instead?” Mallikarjun Reddy, BJP MLA from Ramtek, was the next in line. Just a day ahead of the book release in Pune, a group of women had lodged a complaint against him. The women, who are part of a self-help group, had approached the MLA with a request for intervention in a case of financial misconduct by a microfinance company. However, the MLA allegedly tried to conveniently ignore the request leading to a scuffle. About a week before that, a senior BJP leader and former minister Eknath Khadse too had seen a case being filed against him by activist Anjali Damania. Damania had alleged use of filthy language by the leader while referring to her at a public rally.
On the day of the publication of Shah’s book, a video went viral in the social media wherein BJP MLA from the posh Juhu in Mumbai, Ameet Satam, was seen physically assaulting hawkers and abusing police officers. Satam claimed he was trying to clear a road of hawkers, which the police were not doing despite repeated requests.
“I have not committed any crime. Action should also be taken against police officials for allowing hawkers to use cylinders on the roads against the High Court orders,” Satam said. He also said allegations are bound to be levelled when action is being taken against wrongdoers, even as the complaint filed with the police by Azad Hawkers’ Union said the legislator was misusing his position to get the civic body to round them up. Some hawkers said two men had approached them prior to the incident, asking them to start paying to Satam or be prepared for consequences.
The cases are being seen as power gone to the heads of the BJP MLAs, even though the party president has written in the book that, “Our electoral success and attainment of power will never go into our heads. For us, political power is a matter of great responsibility and not an opportunity to enjoy privileges and luxurious lifestyles.”
Shah’s book talks about the parameters of measuring success of political parties. The book argues that internal democracy, philosophy or the ideology, and performance of the party while in power are the three parameters of measuring success of the parties. It goes on to tell how the BJP excels on all the three counts. However, the behavior of BJP workers appears to be contradictory.