With BJP Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy targeting Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, especially after the latter disapproved of his attacks on Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, a section in the party believes Jaitley’s position is being undermined and action should be taken against Swamy.
When he returns from China Monday, Jaitley is likely to intensify efforts to ensure that he and his ministry are not subjected to further attacks from Swamy. One of his confidants told The Indian Express: “Swamy’s threats through tweets cannot be dismissed as an independent voice since he happens to be a party member.”
Last Thursday, after Swamy named Das in a tweet, Jaitley also took to Twitter and launched a counter: “An unfair and false attack on a disciplined civil servant in the Finance Ministry.”
Swamy also took a direct swipe at Jaitley when he defended his attack on Subramanian and told reporters: “Jaitleyji kya bole, kya nahi bole iss se mujhe kya lena dena (What do I have to do with what Jaitley said or did not say). I speak to Prime Minister and the (BJP) party president when required.”
WATCH VIDEO: Keystrokes: Subramanian Swamy
After the BJP distanced itself from his remarks, Swamy had another go at Jaitley who was in China. “BJP should direct our Ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian clothes while abroad. In coat and tie they look like waiters,” he tweeted. He later claimed that his remarks were not aimed at Jaitley and it was mediapersons “who named him”.
His targeting of Jaitley has divided the party. One section has taken the line that “Swamy is irrepressible and he is his own man”. BJP spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said the party does not subscribe to Swamy’s views.
But a large section of the BJP has not condemned Swamy or launched a strong defence of Jaitley.
The party camp sympathetic to Jaitley considers Swamy’s politics “toxic” and points out “as happened in December 2015, when (Delhi Chief Minister Arvind) Kejriwal targeted Jaitley over corruption in the DDCA, he is again left alone to fight his own battle” .
They point out that neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor BJP president Amit Shah have condemned Swamy’s barbs directed at Jaitley.
Within the BJP, there are some who find Swamy a “useful tool” to settle scores with Jaitley and others who think that the Swamy-Jaitley war of words is against the interest of the party. But both have kept safe distance, silent, as if waiting for a cue from the top brass. According to a senior source in the government, the PMO has discussed the issue of Swamy’s Twitter attacks.