As Gadkari rises, a new scenario is likely for BJP in 2019
The fast changing political developments and the defeat of the saffron party in three north Indian states, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and the way some of the senior BJP leaders, especially the former party president and Union Minister for Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari has been firing his salvo against the party president saying that the party leadership should own up to the failu
The fast changing political developments and the defeat of the saffron party in three north Indian states, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and the way some of the senior BJP leaders, especially the former party president and Union Minister for Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari has been firing his salvo against the party president saying that the party leadership should own up to the failures seems to have pushed the BJP into a defensive situation.
The BJP is likely to take up the recent developments seriously and bring to focus on how to meet the challenge ahead of the Lok Sabha elections at the upcoming BJP conclave at New Delhi in January. The session certainly would be a brainstorming one.
In fact, the party has been facing rough weather politically soon after the Gujarat elections where it had to struggle to come back to power. It’s strategies in Karnataka elections marked the revival of the anti-BJP front. It may now even think of exploring possibilities of roping in support of some like minded parties small or big as part of damage control measures and see that they are back in driver’s seat after the Lok Sabha elections.
While the TDP has launched a massive attack against the BJP which has forced the party to cancel the scheduled public meeting on January 6, 2019 which was to be addressed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the saffron party has been facing flak from its own party workers who have started questioning the Prime Minister. At a recent live interaction Modi had with party workers of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry at “Mera Booth Sabse Mazbooth,” a party activist commented that the thinking among the people was that the Union government was showing more interest in collecting taxes and not in the welfare of the people.
He also said that the middle class was not happy with the decisions taken by the government in last four and half years. He further said that the genuine tax payers were not even able to get loans to meet their requirements. The Prime Minister almost fumbled in his response and moved over to a question by another worker.
Following this, the BJP central leadership decided to ensure that only workers selected by the party will be allowed to interact with the Prime Minister during such live shows. The selected workers will have to send questions in advance to the party central office in New Delhi and they would be allowed to ask them only after it was cleared by the high command. This had come as a weapon for the opposition parties which are trying to unite against the BJP.
The party was further embarrassed with the way the Union Minister made comments directly aiming at Amit Shah. Gadkari took the opportunity to take a dig at the party president when he was asked by the audience at the Intelligence Bureau annual endowment lecture to express his views on the performance of IAS and IPS officials. He said, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan” while saying that the leadership should own up to both, he took a jibe saying, “If I am the party president and my MLAs are not doing well, my MPs don’t perform, then who is responsible?”
This has given rise to speculations that the he has left little to the imagination. Whenever the Modi- Amit Shah jodi saw electoral success one after the other, the credit was given to their unbeatable Chanakya like strategies. An opinion had gone around that no one can beat them and that things would be rosy enough for the BJP to stage a comfortable come back in the 2019 elections. It is also interesting to note that no one from RSS had reacted to these comments of the Union Minister. Does this mean that the RSS was supporting what Gadkari had said is the million-dollar question? What is significant is the meetings where he spoke had nothing to do with politics.
But once the graph of the duo started going down and the opposition intensified its efforts to unite all anti-BJP forces, the BJP leadership seems to be on the backfoot and analysts say that Gadkari who is known to be the blue-eyed boy of the RSS is emerging as the next face of BJP just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.
For almost four years, Gadkari was more equal than others in the party and government. He was the only leader in the party who got the ministry of his choice. As Union Transport minister he had earned a good name for his qualities like taking quick decisions. It was said this had become possible as he was the only minister in the Modi cabinet who was not under command control and was allowed to function independently. He was also known for his outspoken attitude and is among the few if not the only one to speak his mind at the Cabinet meetings. All this was possible because of the closeness and confidence Gadkari enjoys from RSS top brass.
Analysts say that the rift between Gadkari and Modi took a new turn even since the PMO had suddenly called for a review report of the ministry headed by Gadkari with special reference to road construction in Haryana and Rajasthan. Though there is nothing wrong in the PMO calling for review report, what perhaps rubbed Gadkari on the wrong side was the tone and tenor of the demand. The PMO had set a deadline saying that the report should be submitted by the evening.
Taken aback by this, Gadkari had to send his officers by two helicopters for an aerial survey to fill certain gaps and submit the report the same day. What had further upset him was the refusal of permission to enable him attend World Hindu Congress in Chicago in September on the pretext that BJP national executive was scheduled around the same time. This meeting was supposed to be a high profile one and was addressed by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
The RSS-trained Gadkari came out openly against the leadership when he got the first opportunity to speak at some meetings soon after the BJP lost elections in the three states. He has also been of late facing trouble in getting funds released for various road projects.
His comments, party insiders feel has given credence to the opposition campaign that the saffron party will see a drastic fall in numbers in 2019 because of all round economic distress, both in rural and urban areas. While one will have to wait and watch the developments to unfold in the coming months, Gadkari has certainly emerged as the rallying point in BJP.