Every effort of embattled BJP chief Nitin Gadkari to wiggle out of the Spurti quagmire has backfired and the proverbial final nail on the coffin was stuck by the I-T raids on the company stakeholders’ offices. As the negative publicity brought by its appointee became too big to be pushed under the carpet, even the all powerful RSS could not help him.
Rajnath Singh’s return could not be more spectacular. Gadkari’s term at the helm was a disaster. Revolt after revolt broke out in the party’s state units — its Karnataka situation is the worst scenario.
It was not long ago that the party’s national leadership was forced to kneel down before the Bellary brothers and revoke all disciplinary actions against them and their confidants. Late realisation of its mistake and the subsequent tough posturing before BS Yeddyurappa have resulted in its sole government in the south hanging to power by a wafer-thin majority. The Lingayat strongman enjoys considerable support among the party’s cadres and has the ability to spoil it for the saffron party. And more than anyone else, one person stands to gain the most — Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi’s chance of being the party’s prime ministerial candidate got a major boost with Gadkari out of the way. Modi and Gadkari had clashed several times in the past with the pracharak CM skipping the party’s national executive meetings in protest.
The harbinger of Gadkari’s dwindling elbow room was the May conclave where the party body had to drop Modi-baiter and Gadkari loyalist Sanjay Joshi.
With an outspoken Hindutva hawk like Rajnath Singh at the helm of the party, Modi will look like a moderate (though he is anything but one). Singh’s elevation also spares Modi of worries about strengthening the party before laying siege to Delhi — the former has proven his mettle with excellent organisational skills during his previous stints.
Modi has also greatly benefitted from Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the number two slot in the Congress. While junior’s tearjerker speech might have sent the nation reaching for tissue paper boxes, the ‘anointment’ has effectively ruled out the possibility of any leader of calibre rising to the top in near future.
Every time Rahul has tried to take on Modi politically, his rhetoric failed to scratch Modi’s image, let alone dent it. Sonia’s last best shot — maut ka saudagar (merchant of death) — boomeranged and Modi emerged stronger than ever. The recent state elections underscored the Gujarat’s CM’s upper hand in this unequal fight.
Modi’s success has been in forcing his most vehement critics to come out with praise for him through good governance. Congress leaders, civil society activists and even leading Muslim figures have turned fans.
With booming business opportunities in Gujarat proving to be too lucrative to be ignored, most countries which blacklisted him in the wake of 2002 riots have quietly backtracked, the UK being the latest to join this list. In the US too, the number of voices calling for going soft on Modi is increasing by the day.
Though kin of victims of 2002 massacres in Gujarat continue to wage their legal battles, a series of clean chits by courts have boosted Modi’s credentials.
Gadkari was a weight that was dragging the BJP down (no pun intended), and freed of that, the main Opposition party is in a better position to put its house in order and pose a credible challenge to the ruling combine in the 2014 General Elections.
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