With or Without You: Why Does BJP Tolerate Subramanian Swamy?


With or Without You: Why Does BJP Tolerate Subramanian Swamy?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


f a search for the Indian politician whom everyone loves to hate were to be held today, there’s no doubt Subramanian Swamy’s name would feature as one of the top contenders. Liberals have no love lost for Swamy because of his never-ending stream of conservative rhetoric, especially when it comes to matters like LGBTQ rights; his political rivals must be worried he’ll come after them in an anti-corruption case, like he’s done with Sonia Gandhi, RaGa, Jayalalithaa, and others; and his own party, the BJP, probably wishes that Swamy would just shut the hell up.

The loudmouthed Rajya Sabha MP has a knack for quotable quotes; the only problem is he often ends up scorching his own party with his verbal fire. This week, as the entire nation reacted with shock, horror, and outrage to the terrorist attacks in Pulwama, even Rahul Gandhi announced that he would support the government in this difficult time. Not Swamy. In typical fashion, Swamy offered a backhanded compliment by saying the BJP had “failed in Kashmir”, but that it was “capable of retooling itself to smash Pakistan”. To an outsider, it might look like rebellion, but it’s par for the course when you’re both the BJP’s ace in the hole and the thorn in their side.