Fri Mar 07, 2014


NEW DELHI: A high powered rebellion is cutting into the Bharatiya Janata Party, with top leaders L.K.Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi amongst those questioning prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s style and substance in more ways than one. The RSS and other leaders are stepping in to intervene but the confrontation is only building into what could become an open fight.

Varanasi has become a seat of conflict, with sitting MP and veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi holding on to his seat even as Modi and his supporters work to wrest it away. Joshi who has been visiting Varanasi more in the last few weeks than in the last five years, plastered the entire city with his posters to make it clear to the electorate that he was still the BJP candidate. In a counter move, Modi’s supporters clearly encouraged by Man Friday Amit Shah have put up huge posters and boards across the city, asking people to sign in favour of Modi. They said they will collect five lakh signatures in the next few days and send it to the party bosses to ensure that Modi contests the elections from Varanasi.

The BJP is supporting Modi on this and efforts are already underway to persuade Joshi to return to his old constituency Kanpur. But till last heard, the old leader was not biting Modi’s bullet, and insisting on retaining his constituency.

Sushma Swaraj has also openly attacked the BJP decision to bring in the BSR Congress in Karnataka. She has written to the party president Rajnath Singh, even as the letter was ‘leaked’ to the media, opposing the merger of the mining Bellary Reddy brothers into the BJP after they had left on corruption charges to float their own political party. Sushma Swaraj has also found fault with the BJP’s decision to ally with the Haryana Janhit Congress and thereby legitimise the inclusion of Venod Sharma, father of Manu Sharma who is in jail in the Jessica Lal murder case.

The letter opposing the decisions by Swaraj, makes it apparent that the BJP president is no longer consulting the top leaders of the party who were not just the decision makers just a few years ago, but also the chief campaigners for the party. Most of them are now left twiddling their thumbs, learning of important decisions through state leaders or the media. Sushma Swaraj’s decision to go public was prompted by the last.
There is no backing off by whosoever is taking the decisions in the party on this, only an effort to sit down with Sushma Swaraj and convince her of the necessity of allying with the questionable individuals and their parties in Karnataka and Haryana.

Modi ignored Advani’s comments in the meeting, and also seems to be ignoring Joshi who has always been a little more isolated and independent than the others since Atal Behari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister. However, again there has been no real effort to make him see reason with the BJP unleashing a “Modi army” to insult its own leader. Shah who is managing Uttar Pradesh owes allegiance only to Modi, sources said, and is not bothered who is sidelined or pushed aside in the process. “For him a yes from Modi, is a yes, and he faithfully moves to implement it,” the sources said pointing out that this approach cannot work in politics.

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