Rajnath Singh has become the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but that crown is full of thorns. The question is whether Rajnath Singh will be able to apply his new ‘authority’ on Narendra Modi ? And will Lal Krishna Advani and leaders close to him give Rajnath Singh the opportunity to take decisions independently? There is factionalism and rebellion rearing its head within the BJP in many States. Will Rajnath Singh be able to neutralise the ‘volatility’ in these States? This question becomes important because in the process through which Rajnath Singh was declared the BJP President, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) destroyed the dignity of the post of the President. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wanted to make Gadkari the party President, but due to the opposition of Lal Krishna Advani, it could not succeed, and so Rajnath Singh was declared the President. Rajnath Singh was neither the first choice of the Sangh nor the first choice of any group of the BJP, but he was still chosen as the President. Rajnath Singh is not a unanimously elected President; instead he is a ‘Compromise President’ and as such, a ‘Compromised President.’ Such a candidate cannot become a powerful President. There are many such leaders in the BJP, whose stature much bigger than that of Rajnath Singh, and they do not listen to anybody. The reality is that it is because of the insistence of the RSS that Rajnath Singh was made the President, so that the RSS could keep the BJP in control. This is the biggest thorn in the crown of Rajnath Singh. Such a President gets the throne, but ‘legitimacy’ does not follow.
It seems that the BJP has become a cursed party, otherwise how would it be possible that whenever a situation seems to be created in favour of the BJP because of the faults and ‘misdoings’ of the Congress, then something or the other surely happens which vitiates the favourable scenario for the BJP all together. The Government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee did wonderful work, but still the BJP lost the elections. A situation was again created in 2009 when it seemed that party would surely win this time around. BJP leaders even started addressing Lal Krishna Advani as Prime Minister, but at the last moment, factionalism within the party came to the front and the destruction process was completed by the intelligent advisors of Lal Krishna Advani. The BJP lost the elections again. The preparations for the 2014 elections have started now. Besides, elections are going to take place in five important States, but again an intensive trend of self destruction has emerged in BJP. A new confidence was discernable in the functionaries, supporters and voters of the BJP just a short while ago, but the RSS played such a trick that the functionaries, supporters and voters of BJP have again become disappointed and relatively inactive today.
Who would be the next President ? There was a fierce battle on this between BJP and RSS. Because of the pressure of the RSS the Constitution of the BJP was changed, so that Gadkari could again be made the President. The leading lights in Delhi did not like Gadkari, because the RSS had given him full freedom. Such leaders of the BJP who did not have a RSS background were also against Gadkari. But the RSS was adamant about making Gadkari the President of the party. A series of conspiracies and cabals began in the BJP. The dissenters in BJP gave ‘proofs’ against Gadkari to the media, and even handed over the documents of the Purti Group. Pressure was built up that Gadkari should resign, but still the RSS did not remove him from the post of the President and neither did Gadkari offer to resign. Gadkari’s most crucial and fatal ‘fault’ was that in the three years that he was President, he made more enemies than friends. A situation was created against him, but no one had the courage to go against the RSS. Just one day before Gadkari was to be re-elected as the President, Income Tax raids started at his office. He was summoned for investigation. Lal Krishna Advani became active, he suggested the name of Sushma Swaraj to the RSS, but this did not resolve the matter and the RSS remained adamant. After this Mahesh Jethmalani announced that he would file his nomination against Nitin Gadkari. If elections would have taken place then Gadkari would surely have lost – there was so much opposition to his continuation. So the RSS, now on the back foot, held a dialogue with Lal Krishna Advani in Mumbai, there was a compromise and Rajnath Singh was elected BJP President.
Gadkari’s most crucial and fatal ‘fault’ was that in the three years that he was President, he made more enemies than friends. A situation was created against him, but no one had the courage to go against the RSS. Just one day before Gadkari was to be re-elected as the President, Income Tax raids started at his office. He was summoned for investigation. Lal Krishna Advani became active, he suggested the name of Sushma Swaraj to the RSS, but this did not resolve the matter and the RSS remained adamant. After this Mahesh Jethmalani announced that he would file his nomination against Nitin Gadkari. If elections would have taken place then Gadkari would surely have lost – there was so much opposition to his continuation. So the RSS, now on the back foot, held a dialogue with Lal Krishna Advani in Mumbai, there was a compromise and Rajnath Singh was elected BJP President.
Let us first understand under what circumstances RSS had made Gadkari the President of the party. Nitin Gadkari a BJP leader known to no one outside Maharashtra. He was not a party ‘thinker’ either. He was and is a businessman. People within the BJP say that he just had one quality : that he had been funding the running the headquarter of the RSS. The BJP had lost the election of 2009. After losing from a winning position the leaders of the party had withdrawn to their homes and there was disappointment among the functionaries of the party. The RSS felt that this was the best opportunity when BJP could be totally brought under its grip. A statement was made by Mohan Bhagawat, the RSS chief, that the BJP has become sick and needed surgery. Nitin Gadkari was made the doctor and sent to the BJP for conducting the surgery, but he could not bring any positive change in the party. The tragedy of the BJP is that it is trapped in the vice like grip of four leaders who are seated in Delhi without people’s support. They are called D-4 by the people of the party. The four leaders of Delhi are Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Anant Kumar and Venkaiah Naidu. Gadkari had
the responsibility of infusing new life into the party, to revive the ideology of the party and bring enthusiasm among the functionaries of the party, but he was unsuccessful on all these counts. Even after bring the President for three years, he could not acquire the stature of a national level leader. The reason behind this is clear : he did not have the capability of taking over the mantle of leadership of the BJP and neither could he acquire the necessary skills. The RSS had identified the sickness of the BJP properly, but it had selected the wrong doctor.
The ‘sickness’ of the BJP to which the RSS referred is still prevalent today. After removing Gadkari. the credibility of D-4 of Delhi has increased even more. The nature of Rajnath Singh is ‘simple’. He is not a leader who does politicking by making someone angry. He is not a combative sort of a leader. This was probably the reason that Lal Krishna Advani and other opposing leaders of the RSS agreed on the name of Rajnath Singh. The misfortune of the BJP now is that it has a leader who is in the grip of a few leaders seated in Delhi, who do not contest elections, but instead ‘manage’ elections. With the announcement of elections, these leaders become the most powerful. This party sidelines the RSS and takes its own decisions. The last time when elections were fought under the leadership of Lal Krishna Advani, then all the decisions were taken by Arun Jaitley, Lal Krishna Advani and their ‘aides’. Rajnath Singh was then the President, but he did not even know about anything and the decisions were already made. Rajnath Singh did not interfere in election strategies that were made. Arun Jaitley is the most important strategist, but he would not go those meetings where Rajnath Singh would be present. How to distribute the tickets, how the promotions would be done, what will be the strategy, the party President was excluded from all these things. A war room was made for the election, but Rajnath Singh did not have the permission to be part of that war room.
It is a known fact that with the announcement of elections, and after the announcement of the Prime Ministerial candidate, the importance of the party diminishes and it becomes a personal fight for the candidate announced for the post of the Prime Minister. Which leader is to be brought in front, with whom a coalition has to be forged, who has to be side lined, all these decisions are taken by the candidate for the post of the Prime Minister and his close aides. The active functionaries remain angry with this working style of the BJP. Gadkari made efforts to change this working style. He took all the decisions during the Uttar Pradesh elections himself, but was not successful. He committed a few mistakes as well. He took a few such decisions where defeat was attributed to him. Will Rajnath Singh be able to save the party in the 2014 election or will what happened in 2009 be repeated again? This question arises because if Narendra Modi is made the candidate for the post of the Prime Minister, then what utility would be left for the President of the party? The President of the BJP has some more problems too. There is a communication gap between the senior leaders of the party. They do not even speak to each other. In these circumstances, the party needed a strong President, but the way in which the RSS brought in Rajnath Singh at the last moment and made him the President has increased the problems for Rajnath Singh. The most important challenge before him is to end the contradictions and the dissensions within the party.
However it is difficult to understand the contradictions and dissensions of BJP. It is not a simple situation of who is fighting with whom : the situation is such that all are fighting against each other. One fight is going on between the leaders of the BJP, and that fight is of supremacy. There is a race on in the BJP for the post of the Prime Minister.They feel that because of corruption and inflation, the party would win the 2014 election without making any efforts. So the line of dreamers who want to become Prime Minister is becoming lengthy. Conspiracy and groupism is at its peak inside the party, but its effects are yet to be seen fully. For the time being the fight is happening on other levels. There is a tussle going on between the BJP and the RSS. The RSS wants that the BJP runs according to its directions, gives priority to its ideology and decisions, but many leaders of the party oppose the RSS, because they feel that the ideology and working style of the RSS is not just narrow, but is also inappropriate for the political and the social environment today. A few leaders even want that there should be no interference of the RSS in the party, and the party should be completely separate from the RSS.
With personal rifts, distrust, conspiracy, indiscipline, disintegration and disappointment of the functionaries widely prevalent, the defeats in one election after another seem to have become the BJP’s fate. In such a situation the party has got an ‘old’ President to run the party. Rajnath Singh cannot be said to be ‘new’, because Rajnath Singh was the President of the party before Gadkari. Rajnath Singh was a President who did not have too much of power, because the four leaders of Delhi famous by the name of D-4 had set themselves up as the pillars of the party. There are important challenges facing the BJP. Legislative Assembly elections are going to take place in five States and the BJP will face the test of saving their Government in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and the challenge of garnering a majority in Rajasthan, Delhi and Jharkhand. In the meantime the preparation for the 2014 election has started. The Congress has ‘launched’ Rahul Gandhi. The BJP has to give to give an answer to this as soon as possible. Narendra Modi has turned out to be the biggest people’s majority leader and Rajnath Singh will have to build a coordination with him. Lal Krishna Advani is the senior most leader in the party, but Rajnath Singh is not his favourite President.
The BJP is perhaps the most important Opposition party of the country. In democracy, the importance and responsibility of the Opposition is more than that of the party running the Government. It is not an easy task to become the head of the Opposition party. This becomes even more difficult, when there are ongoing battles between the leaders of the party. There is a need of foresight to stay in control in such a situation. Such vision gives strength to the faith of the people, but there is a battle going on between the senior leaders of BJP – everyone can see that. Each leader wants to leave behind the other leader to become the candidate for the post of the Prime Minister in the next election. There is a cold war going on between the leaders living in Delhi. Those people who have gone out of the party, they too are getting involved groupism. A few leaders want to join in this race as per their convenience by combining with the RSS. The greatest loss of the battles going on in the BJP is to the people of the country.
There is a golden opportunity before the BJP. The people of the country are suffering because of the strategies of the Government. The Government is on the back foot with inflation, unemployment, corruption and continuous scandals, but the BJP is not being able to take the advantage of this opportunity. The people of the country are suffering. The Government is implementing strategies which are creating problems for the people one after the other. It is disappointing that no option can be seen to the Government. That the hopes of the people in the new BJP President will rise – it would be wrong to surmise this. Groupism has become a lot more pronounced now and this is the reason that the BJP has left the issue bothering of the people far away. Neither does it have a strategy, nor does it have an ideological and economic road map. The situation of groupism in the party is such that a lack lustre President has been made a President again. It has to be said with a lot of sorrow that BJP seems bent on destroying its relevance, capability and credibility.