Modi’s u-turns, treatment of Jaswant: Why BJP is looking shaky

Two quick u-turns usually bring you back to more or less just about where you began. But on Sunday, the Bharatiya Janata Party's deft flip-flops, first on the matter of party membership to Pramod Muthalik of the 2009 Mangalore pub attack fame and then on the Har Har Modi call, appeared to have left the party suddenly miles off course.

]Veteran BJP leader LK Advani and party's PM candidate Narendra Modi. Veteran BJP leader LK Advani and party's PM candidate Narendra Modi. Neither rethink came spontaneously. On Muthalik, there was outrage and derision on Twitter, alongside reports that senior party leaders had raised eyebrows too. At least one senior leader, Goa chief minister Manohar Parriker, openly scorned the decision to admit Muthalik, who he said would not be allowed to join any campaigning in Goa.

On Har Har Modi, the decision came after several days of hand-wringing by Hindu leaders and immediately after Shankaracharya of the Dwarka peeth Swaroopanand Saraswati used some strong language. He actually telephoned RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. If the RSS does not endorse man-worship then it had very well put a stop to the use of the slogan, the Shankaracharya is reported to have said. The Shankaracharya had a warning too: "People say no one can stop Modi. But if such activities continue, God will stop him."

Nobody knows if the BJP believes the Shankaracharya's word will sway voters in Varanasi. But there was enough disquiet among believers of the Hindu rashtra for Modi to take to Twitter on Sunday evening and request his followers not to use the slogan. Soon after, the BJP declared that Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi had never been an official party slogan.

The Shankaracharya and Twitterati could hardly have more dissonant voices, but they had the same effect on the BJP on Sunday evening. And gave us three reasons why the BJP should consider some course corrections:

One, suddenly, the prime minister in waiting, widely reported to be controlling the entire gamut of campaign activities for the BJP, appeared unsure, undecided and a good deal less in control than a few hours previously.

Just what led to the hasty flip-flops? Nobody doubts for even a minute that the Gujarat chief minister was not in the know about Muthalik's induction. The Sri Ram Sene man, a long-time associate of the Sangh parivar in different capacities, had in fact threatened to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Dharwad against state BJP president Pralhad Joshi. His induction, like those of even relative small fry such as the daughter of an NCP minister in Maharashtra, would have been duly passed through and vetted by Team Modi.

As for the Har Har Modi slogan, you cannot really argue with the Shankaracharya's logic, even if you don't have an opinion on worship of humans: "Why was Modi not opposing it from the very first moment?" The slogan has been used widely at rallies and on social media. In that sense, both u-turns can be seen as Modi's, not the party's.

Two, the taut relationships at the very top of the BJP now appear to be fraying at an alarming pace. And that is doubtless leading to mis-steps and stumbles on the final leg of the Modi juggernaut.

LK Advani has already chided the party for becoming a one-man organisation. Then, barely hours after the tension over party patriarch's candidature began, the Jaswant Singh episode had party seniors in a huddle. Sushma Swaraj, having first very vocally reiterated her opposition to the induction of B Sriramulu into the BJP -- she first said it set a bad precedent, tweeted her thoughts, then upon the induction she was at pains to repeat herself, and finally wrote a missive to party president Rajnath Singh stating her views -- also spoke out about the treatment meted out to Jaswant Singh, former defence minister, external affairs minister and finance minister in the NDA regime.

The decision on Jaswant was said to have been taken first by Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and then backed by the central election committee of the party, based reportedly on winnability. Vasundhara and Jaswant Singh were never known to be close, but the outcome of the Barmer seat heartburn is that the murmurs are now not only about tickets and candidature. Swaraj has grabbed every chance she gets to establish her identity as somebody who will speak out whatever the consequences, even if it means taking on Modi and the thers. According to reports, she has felt snubbed and slighted in the new "Modi-fied" party, and apparently believes that the party has become a ruthless machine with no regard for seniors who built the organisation.

Much has been said about the internal rivalries within the BJP, and specifically about the rising voices unhappy at Modi's unchallenged leadership, but Sunday's U-turns make one thing plain: The BJP seniors' public spats are now dangerous for the NDA -- their cohesion or lack thereof could make or mar Mission 272.

And three, finally, the BJP stood exposed on Sunday as being increasingly like the political parties it mocks. Unsavoury politicians with dodgy records in public life become the toast of all parties during election season -- perceived winnability has little to do with what Twitter believes is acceptable.

On Sunday, even as senior party strategist Arun Jaitley wrote on his blog that senior leaders should prove their discipline and loyalty at times like these, and that he should simply learn to take no for an answer, even as Jaswant himself said he was not furniture to be "adjusted" around after the elections, when Muthalik was being welcomed into the party by Karnataka unit of the BJP, the party with a difference became another Congress party with its Kalmadis and its Ashok Chavans, its turncoats and its opportunists.

It's really besides the point if Jaswant deserved that ticket and whether his winnability quotient beats that of the Congress rebel Vasundhara picked for Barmer instead. The message that went out in the way the Jaswant Singh incident was handled was one of how the party tackles an unhappy parent or grand-uncle.

A senior party worker who is believed to stand for integrity and honest plainspeak, who went on Hardtalk during Kargil to demolish Pakistan, was publicly humiliated. Not the best tidings for the BJP, and for Modi, with just days to go for polling. more  

View all 9 comments Below 9 comments
--- User attached no message to his email or the message is encrypted --- more  
--- User attached no message to his email or the message is encrypted --- more  
Sikha Jai ji, I feel that BJP has been divided in two ideologies ie Old BJP
and Modified New BJP (Controlled by Mr Modi). BJP Workers have accepted
this truth and feel that very soon the division may come in existence. BJP
controlled by Mr Modi is ignoring aged and old dedicated elders which can
not be justified at any level. Therefore, it is not bearable at any stage.


On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 5:20 PM, Shikha Jain
<support@localcirclesmail.com>wrote:

> more  
Hello Sir,
I think you know the politics better then me. I want a revolution in our
country. So please support us. We all need a clean and clear India not a
dark zone. Thanks for reply. Give your full attention.
With Warm Regards
Sudhanshu more  
Mr Sudhanshu you are 100 % correct. more  
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