Satya Pal Malik’s Remarkable Critique of BJP Leadership

It holds significance for the leadership of the BJP to comprehend that Malik’s tenure as the governor of J&K occurred during a pivotal phase in the history of the former state. Moreover, his prominent position as a high-ranking BJP leader accentuates the potential implications of any harm befalling him on the party itself.

While the uprising within the BJP ranks in Karnataka, led by figures like Jagadish Shettar, has constituted a notable setback, the statements made by Satya Pal Malik during an interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire on April 14 represent a particularly striking setback, not only for the party but also for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Satya Pal Malik, a current BJP member, not only held the position of governor across four states from 2017 to 2022, including the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, but also previously served as the vice-president of the BJP.

In both the Thapar interview and an earlier interaction with DB Live on April 11, Malik directs his criticism primarily towards Prime Minister Modi. Notably, his unequivocal retraction of a previous statement about Home Minister Amit Shah has garnered attention from certain media quarters. Despite his laid-back demeanor, Malik strategically incorporates occasional commendations for Modi, as seen in his stance on the Article 370 reading-down issue, thereby portraying a balanced perspective.

Let’s look at some important excerpts from the interviews.

On corruption

He says he was approached by the CBI to give a ‘background’ on the alleged bribe of Rs 300 crore that he could have received for sanctioning a hydel power project and an insurance deal from a Reliance company for government employees in J&K.

On Pulwama

He said Pulwama was the result of incompetence and that if the home ministry had given the aircraft asked for by the CRPF to transport their personnel from Jammu to Srinagar, the Pulwama incident would not have happened.

On J&K generally

The main cause of anger in J&K is the taking away of their statehood and not the dilution of Article 370. Referring to PM Modi’s knowledge about Kashmir, he said: “He is very ill-informed person”.

On Adani issue

He maintained that Rahul Gandhi should have been allowed to speak in Parliament and that Modi had not answered Gandhi’s accusation/query regarding the source of Rs 20,000 crore. He said the Adani matter had become a public issue.

The defence

The leadership of the BJP has maintained a relatively subdued stance, possibly indicating covert negotiations with Malik aimed at pacifying his concerns. The government’s primary apprehension seems to revolve around the allegation that the Pulwama incident resulted from the denial of aircraft for airlifting CRPF jawans, along with insinuations that the BJP exploited Pulwama for electoral gains in the 2019 general elections, rather than focusing on accusations of impropriety and ineptitude.

Employing a forceful approach, which is within the capabilities of the Modi administration, is unlikely to yield favorable outcomes with Malik. Even if legal actions are pursued under the Official Secrets Act, Malik retains the potential to inflict significant harm upon the party, of which he remains a member, as well as the nation, by divulging unrestrained revelations even within confidential proceedings that may eventually become public.

Attempting to incarcerate a former vice-president of the BJP and a governor could be perceived as vengeful, potentially carrying repercussions in the court of public opinion, given his standing as a politician unblemished by corruption. Such a trial could extend well into the 2024 general elections.

Additional challenges arise from the disclosure of alleged advice, “chup raho” (remain quiet), which does not seem to breach the Official Secrets Act. The revelation that the CRPF requested airlift assistance, which was declined, echoes media reports from 2019. An article by The Print on February 17, 2019, titled “Convoy to Kashmir can’t be stopped even if aircraft are available…” indicated media awareness of demands for airlift. Given its public circulation and Malik’s acknowledgment in his interview with Thapar, prosecuting him under the Official Secrets Act for the airlift issue becomes problematic.

Other accusations mainly pertain to purported corruption, perceived high-handedness, and alleged incompetence, which could potentially be addressed through defamation proceedings. Prolonged litigation in pursuit of a defamation charge would likely prove futile. A court-monitored investigation into the charges leveled by Malik, a course he might advocate, could prove detrimental to the BJP.

It is imperative for the BJP leadership to recognize that Malik held a critical role as the governor of J&K during a pivotal period in the region’s history, and he was a prominent figure within the BJP. Any harm inflicted upon him would inevitably impact the party and possibly the nation, particularly within the context of the Pulwama and Balakot incidents.

Muhammad Wasama Khalid is a Correspondent and Researcher at Global Affairs. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at National Defense University. His interests include history, politics, and current affairs. He has been published in the London Institute of Peace and Research, South Asian Journal, Diplomatic Insight, International Policy Digest, Eurasian Review, Gauri Lankesh news, Sri Lanka Guardian, Global Village Space, Global Defense Insight, Global Affairs, Modern Diplomacy, Kashmir watch, Kashmir Media services, other news and Lindro.it. He tweets at @Wasama Khalid and can be reached at Wasamakhalid@gmail.com

Wasama Khalid
Wasama Khalid

Muhammad Wasama Khalid is a Correspondent and Researcher at Global Affairs. He is pursuing his Bachelors in International Relations at National Defense University (NDU). He has a profound interest in history, politics, current affairs, and international relations. He is an author of Global Village Space, Global Defense Insight, Global Affairs, and Modern Diplomacy. He tweets at @Wasama Khalid and can be reached at Wasamakhalid@gmail.com

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