The biggest attraction of the BJP – everybody has a shot at its top post – is in danger of turning into a repulsive force if recent talk in the party is any indication. Narendra Modi undertook the biggest electoral campaign in history and is likely to win it for the BJP.
Talk has surfaced, however, of Modi not being a done deal just yet. The results of the 2014 Lok Sabha election will be out on 16 May with two weeks for the formation of the next government by end May.
Amethi diary: And the winner is
The anti-Modi buzz could be empty talk but you never know with Indian politics.
Rs 1000 crore to keep it to 160
Word is that Rs 1000 crore has been made available to a top BJP senior to try and keep Modi from the prime minister’s post should the party be in a position to head the next government.
This seems to be coming from business friends of BJP politicians who fear irrelevance in a Modi disposition. Past party presidents like Murli Manohar Joshi, LK Advani and Venkaiah Naidu, current president Rajnath Singh and a host of others may not have anything important to do if Modi leads the BJP to substantial victory.
Friends of these politicians have been buoyed by reports that bookies think Singh is most likely to be the eventual BJP PM choice. This can only happen if the BJP stops at 160 seats. Modi’s target is 272.
Two key men
Two men worth tracking round-the-clock in the BJP are Modi’s Man Friday Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh’s aide and party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi. Shah does the dirty internal work that keeps Modi sparkling in public.
Shah puts people in their place in the BJP with the simple message that they do as he says or risk expulsion. Trivedi does similar work for Singh. The BJP president considers Trivedi a son – he performed the duties of father in Trivedi’s 2009 marriage.
Those in the know say money could be a big factor after 16 May should the BJP fall short of the required numbers. Sudhanshu Mittal was more important than Shah or Trivedi in the past but he has been low key after the death of his mentor Pramod Mahajan.
The Rajnath factor
The canny and ambitious Rajnath Singh has emerged as a person of interest for those not keen on Modi in the BJP and elsewhere. The foes of Modi talk of three Singh moves as proof.
Singh’s confidant Sudhanshu Trivedi welcomed Janata Dal (U) Rajya Sabha member Shabir Ali into the BJP after clearance from Singh but it fell through when Modi supporters objected to Ali’s entry. Then, Singh took on MNS chief Raj Thackeray after the MNS said it would support Modi for the PM’s post.
Singh said they didn’t need the MNS. Thackeray snapped back that his support was for Modi and not Singh. Third, Singh has said he would not be part of a Modi government should there be one.
Plus, Singh can apparently count on support from Uttar Pradesh politicians like Amar Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav and even Mayawati to stop Modi.
The Uttar Pradesh plan
The BJP tally from Uttar Pradesh is crucial to Modi’s efforts. He didn’t trust anyone there especially as it is the BJP president’s home state. Modi brought in Amit Shah who used his own version of the Gujarat model.
Shah works through the police and intelligence networks in Gujarat and he did the same in Uttar Pradesh. He ignored the BJP network and spent days with intelligence officers and policemen friendly to the party.
All of Shah’s inputs on the BJP came from intelligence officers. The weak links were weeded out, troublemakers warned to fall in line and solid Modi supporters rewarded.
Selection of candidates too was based on what the intelligence men told Shah. Modi expects to be through if UP can deliver 50 or more seats.
The Modi-Mamata tango
BJP seniors don’t quite know what to make of Modi’s recent attacks on Mamata Banerjee. Mamata is only the second chief minister Modi has personally taken on – Nitish Kumar was the first.
But while Kumar is not likely to have many seats to play with, Mamata could have a big chunk. She then becomes important in the numbers game. Therefore, some BJP seniors wonder if the Modi-Mamata spat means something else entirely.
More from the author
Modi, Rahul, Mayawati: The cabinet India needs!
The US has lost its clout in India
What I learned from covering 12 elections
At last, a super year for Indian TV
Aam Aadmi Party is like the Tehelka of politics
Rahul Gandhi may be the last of the Nehru-Gandhis
Vijay Simha is an independent journalist and sobriety campaigner based out of New Delhi.
Vijay blogs here and may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.