The second innings of UPA has been nothing short of tumultuous, marred by massive scams in every sector from rural job schemes to military purchases. When allies themselves are eyeing the jugular of the Centre, relief comes from an unexpected quarters — a divided BJP that is struggling to keep its house in order.
The saffron party, which in the late ‘90s emerged as a credible alternative to the Congress that had ruled the country from Independence with the exception of a few years, is now forced to spend more attention in keeping the organisation intact than serving the role of an effective opposition.
The recent Assembly elections handed a couple of emphatic victories to the party. However, it was more the corruption and anti-incumbency factor that helped it in Goa, and in Punjab it was the bigger ally Shiromani Akali Dal that led the charge. Though it managed to slightly better its performance in Uttar Pradesh, it still to an unenviable third position; inconsequential but definitely better than the Congress which was decimated.
Elsewhere in the country, nothing is working for the party. In Rajasthan, the party constantly faces revolt from senior leader and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje. In the latest episode, the party had to despatch its fire fighters to prevent the royal from walking out of the party with a substantial number of followers and MLAs.
The party’s national leadership has been having sleepless nights ever since it forced BS Yeddyurappa, who led the party to its first government in the south, to quit as chief minister owing to graft cases against him. BSY agreed to quit on condition that his pick Sadanada Gowda was made the CM. However, the Lingayat strongman changed his mind soon and wanted to be reinstated — a demand the party leadership couldn’t concede to as it required a moral high ground to battle the Congress government at the Centre.
Ever since, it has been a war of nerves and words in Karnataka. BSY keeps threatening to quit from the party and form his own organisation and the leadership keeps shuttling between Delhi and Bangalore with varying combinations of carrots and sticks as the situation demands.
The Reddy brothers and their associate Sriramulu, who fell foul with the party after their role in illegal mining scam put the party on the defensive, have made a powerful comeback. The brothers proved their name is bigger than the party in Bellary by defeating the official BJP candidate in the bypolls. As the foursome threatened a split, a shocked leadership had to placate them.
However, what is happening in Karnataka is nothing compared to the challenge that is to emerge from Gujarat — the showcase state for the party. Ever since RSS nominee Nitin Gadkari took the helm, Gujarat Chief Minister and a top prime minister candidate Narendra Modi hasn’t been the most co-operative.
The bachelor swayam sevak CM is not happy with the way Gadkari is leading the party and has attacked his strategies in his meetings with the leadership. Gadkari’s response has been to play down the importance of Modi in the bigger picture.
The most recent example of the duo’s spat spilling out into public view was during the Assembly elections when Modi refused to campaign for the party in UP — and Gadkari entrusted the job to Modi’s arch rival Sanjay Joshi. The chill has continued ever since.
With the party’s national executive meeting barely a month away, Modi has maintained a deafening silence on his attendance. A second term for Gadkari being the main agenda of the conclave, the former’s absence will be a thinly veiled banner of revolt.
No doubt the BJP generals are fully capable of leading the assault on Congress; the question is whether they can survive the civil strife within the party.
The writer works for Postnoon.
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My interests lie in current affairs, social issues and political analysis. A strong believer of independent thinking and healthy scepticism.