Rajnath’s elevation

BJP’s problems far from over

VIEWPOINT

ANIL ANAND

 Nitin Gadkari is out and is replaced by  Rajnath Singh who is perceived to be a more grassroots level worker and a political leader in traditional terms. The dhoti clad son of the soil has taken charge from someone who had tried to tackle the BJP affairs in a rather entrepreneurial fashion. The obvious attempt was to change the party culture surprisingly with the backing of a more traditionalist outfit such as the RSS.
Decidedly, the round one is over for the BJP and the party top brass must be heaving a sigh of relief having got rid of  Gadkari, in the face of corruption charges being leveled against the group of companies in which he purportedly has some interests. But all is not over yet. It is the beginning and not the end in the ongoing fierce battle on the leadership issue.
The jury is out and various factions within the BJP have already set out evaluating the gains and losses of the round one. Most of those on the party’s national firmament must be rejoicing, at least for the time being, having got rid of  Gadkari. They must be fancying their chances of a bigger role in the party affairs and correspondingly in the new formulations after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But fact of the matter is that the truce is momentary and victory is temporary.
Why so? The broader question of who would lead the BJP in near future still hangs the balance and remains unaddressed. Notwithstanding  Rajnath Singh’s stature and experience as a hot boiled politician trained in the rugged political fields of Hindi hinterland, it is not going to be easy for him. It is going to be an uphill task for him to balance between his own growing political ambitions and that of the galaxy of leadership which the saffron party boasts of every now and then.
At best,  Singh’s return as the BJP chief can be described as a stop-gap arrangement. Whether he is aware of this fact or not is another question, but the fact of the matter is that all those dreaming of assuming the mantle of either the BJP leadership or becoming the Prime Ministerial candidate before or after the next General Elections, are fully convinced that the present developments are a temporary phase.
This observation can be aptly analysed in the backdrop of the manner in which the leadership change took place. The fast paced developments led to the change in the context within the matter of hours. This is reflected from the manner in which the managers of  Gadkari had to hurriedly change the press release after the IT raids and were forced to remove the term “re-election” related to him with a more-broader explanation of the presidential elections.
Those wishing to see the back of  Gadkari must be happy. But in the overall context, it does not augur well for the BJP and the Sangh Parivar as a whole. The entire situation leading to sudden elevation of  Rajnath Singh to the top slot in the party is borne out of crisis and the resultant hard-bargaining and is not the outcome of cold and calculated discussions.
The leadership issue that has been staring the BJP for the past quite some time is still wide open.   Singh might have taken the centre-stage at a crucial juncture but he should not be oblivious of the fact that his party, back-seat driven by the RSS, will keep on looking for a future leader. Comparatively young, he will have to pull all stocks to prove his mettle to remain at the top.
From all available indications the leadership issue is going to haunt the BJP as hard as it has been doing during the past three years or so. The biggest challenge facing the party will be about the role of Gujarat Chief Minister  Narendra Modi who is being looked upon as a hot favourite for the Prime Minister’s post for the NDA. The larger than life image created by  Modi for himself with a USP of ‘vikas purush’ will be difficult to handle by the new party chief who himself is nursing the ambition of having a go at the top post of the country if his party led alliance is voted to power. And there are half a dozen others with whom he and  Modi will have to cross-path. It will also be interesting to see as to how the relations between the two develop in the coming months.
Scepticism and caution are the watch words within the BJP, read the top leadership, after the advent of  Rajnath Singh as the new president. If the party insiders are to be believed, his elevation has given jitters to all his possible rivals as to how the events will unfold in the near future.
What could be more worrying for  Singh and the party as a whole is that many BJP leaders, including some top ones, remain to be a in a negative mode. Many of them have already reached the dead end of their political careers but they still have their sight on higher slots. They have ambitions but no future. Much will depend on whether this hard reality dawns on them and whether they are prepared to play the role of mentors to strengthen the organisation or will continue to nurse their personal ambitions till the end. 
In this entire game, the RSS has been the biggest loser. The RSS top brass committed a blunder by putting all their eggs in one basket. In this case  Gadkari.  Normally quick to disown controversial characters, the RSS leadership, surprisingly, went out of its way to back the beleaguered former BJP chief till the last. They may have found an alternative in  Singh, who also enjoys the confidence of Nagpur headquarters of the RSS, but situation with  Gadkari at the top would have been different for them.
The comparatively light weight, Gadkari was more suited to the RSS as they could have “super controlled” him as a BJP insider described. In the case of  Rajnath Singh, he will have to do some tightrope walking in striking a crucial balance between the RSS lobby and those working to extricate the party from its influence but at the same time played a crucial role in  Singh’s re-elevation to the top.   

Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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