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A House Divided


Under the guise of normalcy, BJP remains a Party marred with factionalism and squabbling
PANKAJ SHARMA | Issue Dated: August 5, 2016, New Delhi
Tags : Chhatisgarh | Raman Singh | Yashwant Sinha | Shatrughan Sinha | Kirti Azad |

It is a different thing that the iron hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party chief Amit Shah are busy creating a perception for the past two and a half years that Bharatiya Janata Party is a cohesive and united political outfit with a difference, but the fact is entirely contrary to this. BJP is a party today boiling with serious differences and rivalries from within and there has not been any other two and a half years in its history when the level of unrest was so high.

In May 2014, Modi became Prime Minister despite no senior leader of his party wanting him to be at the helm of affairs. Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and even Arun Jaitley were not in favour of Modi taking over the reins of the nation. Modi won over Jaitley, totally sidelined Advani and Joshi and politically compelled Rajnath Singh, Gadkari and Swaraj to dance to his tunes to share the fruits of power. Today, Advani and Joshi are still no-nos, Jaitley and Gadkari are allowed to exercise a little more power than other ministers in running their ministries, and Sushma and Rajnath work under the strict vigil of the Prime Minister’s Office. It is not difficult to understand how much Modi's Home and Foreign Ministers must be sulking even now.

Jaswant Singh, one of the tallest leaders of BJP, went into a coma after feeling totally frustrated because of the humiliation he suffered. His supporters in Rajasthan are still upset as they have been sidelined. The Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, though, has come to terms with the Modi-Shah duo, but is also one of those who is sulking within. Similar is the situation in Madhya Pradesh where chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan is unhappy because he had no say in the recent elections for Rajya Sabha from his state; and when it came to the Union Cabinet reshuffle, Modi gave important positions to those who are known for their Shivraj bashing. Chauhan is also upset over giving undue importance to Kailash Vijayvargiya by appointing him BJP's National General Secretary. Senior leaders such as Babulal Gaur and Sartaj Singh are openly issuing statements against the central leadership of BJP.

In Chhatisgarh, Chief Minister Raman Singh’s arrogance has been strongly opposed by leaders like former Union Minister Ramesh Bais. Raman Singh has got his third term as Chief Minister but the law and order situation has become a cause for serious concern in the state. The stories regarding financial irregularities of the Raman government are getting vast media coverage and the anti-Raman camp feels that the central leadership ignores all complaints against the Chief Minister.

Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Kirti Azad are no insignificant names in BJP’s Bihar as well as national politics, and their strong dissent against Modi and Shah cannot be ignored. The trio has been raising policy-related issues since Modi took over, and their passion has reached a level where they too can play a Navjot Singh Sidhu any day. In Bihar, C. P. Thakur, Ashwini Choube  and Sushil Kumar Modi are striking a discordant note.

Pankaja Munde, the daughter of influential leader Late Gopinath Munde, and Poonam Mahajan, the daughter of stalwart leader late Pramod Mahajan, also feel  deeply uncomfortable. Apart from facing the heat from its ally Shiv Sena, BJP in Maharashtra has serious threats from these two high profile daughters. BJP in Modi’s Gujarat is also boiling because most of its leaders feel that chief minister Anandiben Patel’s tenure has weakened the party’s electoral chances [Anandiben Patel had resigned before this issue went to print: Ed], making a number of senior BJP leaders angry in Gujarat. Congress, which, is out of power in the state for two decades, won 22 of the 31 district Panchayats in the elections held recently. The Party in the national capital has the highest level of infighting among various groups. Senior leaders Harsh Vardhan and Jagdish Mukhi feel isolated, and families of influential leaders such as Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma are unhappy because they too feel that they have not been getting required importance.

Then there are people like Yogi Aditya Nath, Sadhwi Niranjan Jyoti, Sadhwi Prachi and Giriraj Singh who show their capability every other day to give a damn to any party discipline. Modi’s inability to control them makes his colleagues sometimes angry and sometimes suspicious of the intentions of their own Prime Minister. The inclusion of Subramanian Swamy in the Rajya Sabha has disturbed the harmony between Modi and his colleagues like Jaitley. The animosity between Swamy and Shah is also well known.

After M. J. Akbar’s inclusion in the Union Cabinet giving him important assignments in the MEA, the other minister of state in the same ministry, General V. K. Singh, is no more a friend of Modi. Former Home Secretary R. K. Singh and former Police Commissioner of Mumbai Satya Pal Singh also find themselves highly underutilized.

BJP, therefore, is a house divided from within. And with a heavily sliding economy, Prime Minister Modi has to face serious political challenges in the months to come.

The author is the Editor of News Views India.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017