Monday November 19, 2018
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Rebellion in BJP and need for inner-party democracy

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It was as though the Bihar debacle provided the BJP stalwarts and veterans like L K Advani and others the perfect opportunity that they were waiting for to target PM Narendra Modi for his ‘dictatorial’ style of functioning. As they say, one should hit the iron when it is hot and that is what the former did with their joint statement issued on the eve of Diwali, two days after the results of Bihar Assembly polls were announced.

The hard-hitting, to the point joint statement issued by Advani, Yashwant Sinha, Murli Manohar Joshi and Shanta Kumar minces no words in its attack on the powers-that-be, urging the party leadership to fix the responsibility for the Bihar fiasco.

“To say that everyone is responsible for the defeat is to make sure that no one is held responsible,” the statement signed by Sinha says, adding, it seemed no lessons were learnt from the Delhi drubbing.

“The principal reason for the latest defeat is the way the Party has been emasculated in the last one year… The review should cover the way the party has been forced to kowtow to a handful and how its consensual character has been destroyed.”BJPletter800

It is a sad commentary on a party that took pride in being ‘different’ from others.

Repeated barbs from Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha on PM Modi for his style of functioning showed that the stalwarts were not alone in taking on the latter. Bhola Singh, BJP’s septuagenarian MP from Bihar, went to attack the top leadership by asking, “Who is Amit Shah? He and the PM are who they are because we entrusted them with all our power… The top leadership alone, which took all the decisions, has to take responsibility for the defeat.”

So why are the BJP’s disgruntled leaders washing their party’s dirty laundry in public?

When the rebels alleged the consensual character of the party was destroyed, it became apparent they were left out in the cold and that they were not a part of the decision-making process. It’s only a few that call the shots, they rued.

It is a sad commentary on a party that took pride in being ‘different’ from others. We are “the party with a difference”, they would proudly claim.

The principal attack of the BJP on Congress has been that it is being run by one family, voices barely get the chance to be heard, showing that there is no inner-party democracy in India’s Grand Old Party. Therefore, when two or three people started taking all the important decisions in the former, it was natural that seniors would register their grievances at the time of their choosing.

Two back-to-back setbacks in Delhi and Bihar have, to an extent, weakened PM Modi and Shah’s absolute hold over the party, aiding the Advani camp to stage a comeback. The Modi camp must understand that a country like India cannot be run by a party where only a few individuals rule the roost. Democracy and diversity are in our DNA and therefore, an undemocratic political party will before long find itself isolated, devoid of any support if it stopped listening to others, especially to its own people.

PM Modi must pay heed to what the old guard has to say to him before it’s too late or maybe he has already burnt his bridges. The BJP must show that it is indeed different from others by respecting voices of dissent.

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism, flickr

Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)