Has the BJP finally turned the tide?

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 11, 2013 09:23 hrs

One of the greatest strengths of the BJP is that the dynasty doesn’t rule in the party and there is a vibrant democracy within its ranks. This is in stark contrast to the Congress where everyone has to prostate themselves in front of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty just to survive.

Parties like the NC, DMK, BJD, JD(S) and Shiv Sena are also dynastic in nature. The BSP, AIADMK and Trinamool are authoritarian one-person shows where dissent is crushed. It’s quite funny that one of the most democratic parties in independent India is rubbished so much by one and all.

But ironically the BJP’s biggest strength has also ended up as its biggest weakness. Too much democracy means that everyone wants to be Chief Minister and everyone wants to be Prime Minister. No central authority is respected.

A major state it lost thanks to this was Uttar Pradesh. Kalyan Singh was its most popular leader and became the first BJP CM of UP. The party lost him thanks to intense infighting. After him, Ram Prakash Gupta (how many people have even heard of him?) was CM for under a year and he had to make way for Rajnath Singh.

The end result is that BJP seems to have lost UP for good. That also affects the national government for UP has the highest amount of Lok Sabha seats for any state.

The other state that it is on the verge of losing is Karnataka. BS Yedyurappa’s rebellion, exit and formation of a new party have all severely dented the BJP. This was laid bare in the recent municipal elections. The opinion polls for the Assembly paint a bleak picture for the BJP.

The story has been the same in most states. Vasundhara Raje faced problems in Rajasthan. In Gujarat, CM Narendra Modi’s biggest opponents were not from the Congress, but the VHP and RSS.

At the national level things were no different. LK Advani’s spat with the RSS led to him losing credibility and he was no match to PM Manmohan Singh in the 2009 general elections.

When Modi emerged as the first choice for the PM’s post, everyone seemed out to get him: the RSS, Advani, BJP leaders and more importantly the then president Nitin Gadkari. The Gadkari-Modi spat was quite an ugly one.

It seemed that the BJP was in no position to cash in on the anti-incumbency wave at the Centre. When activist and AAP founder Arvind Kejriwal brought Gadkari crashing down to earth on corruption charges, it seemed curtains for the BJP. This was more so because the BJP seemed intent on giving the tainted President another term.

In a surprise move, Gadkari was ousted and Rajnath was put in his place. Rajnath’s past history with Modi is well known and no-one expected things to change.

One must say that he surprised everyone.

Rajnath immediately asserted Vasundhara’s authority in Rajasthan and she in turn reached out to her detractors. Now the BJP is set to do well in the LS polls in the state in 2014 and cash in on the anti-incumbency of the Congress’ Ashok Gehlot-led government.

While Rajnath is too late in Karnataka for the Assembly polls, he still keeps talking of a patch-up with Yedyurappa. If both parties do disastrously in the May elections, they still have time to get together and salvage something for the LS polls.

Rajnath’s biggest surprise is that he seems to be unilaterally backing Modi for the PM’s post. While they may not declare it outright (a wise move, no matter what the Modi baiters say), Modi has already emerged first among equals.

This was evident in the BJP National Conclave where Modi took centrestage. He was subsequently inducted in the national parliamentary board and his aide Amit Shah was made general secretary.

The BJP finally seems to be turning the tide with Rajnath quelling all dissent and Modi doing what he does best: Talking and wooing the voters.

Modi’s speeches at SRCC college, a media conclave and at FICCI have all been received well by the industry, citizens and netizens.

The momentum is currently with both Modi and the BJP.

The last time when a BJP party president backed someone for the PM’s post like this was when Advani threw his support firmly behind AB Vajpayee. We all know how that went.

It may be said that the Vajpayee-Advani partnership brought NDA an unbroken stint from 1998-2004.

It remains to be seen whether the Rajnath-Modi partnership can produce a similar result, but one must say that the chances are much brighter now.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at

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