Some months ago, when she was nominated the party’s candidate in Bhopal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was perhaps the most vocal supporter of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.
During the Lok Sabha Elections, in an interview, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sadhvi Pragya was a symbol of protest against the fake narrative of 'Hindutva terror'. He even compared his own earlier turmoil (as the CM of Gujarat) with that of Sadhvi Pragya, and said that it was a conscious party decision to field the Sadhvi.
This was because, he explained, she was being branded as a terror accused without a shred of admissible proof against her (so far), and with many forgetting that she was merely an accused.
Yet, it was the same Narendra Modi who was left with no option but to declare publicly that he "won't be able to forgive Sadhvi Pragya" for her remarks supporting Nathuram Godse.
He also expressed his deep disappointment at other BJP leaders who jumped onto the bandwagon and supported the "Nathuram Godse statement" made by Sadhvi Pragya wherein she reportedly called the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi a patriot.
The rebuttal from the topmost echelons of the BJP was swift and caustic. Narendra Modi appeared at a press conference along with Amit Shah who declared that disciplinary action could be initiated against BJP leaders for statements supporting Nathuram Godse.
The story doesn't end with Sadhvi Pragya.
The BJP is one of the strongest parties when it comes to political strategy and actual ground-work — but public communication by some of its motormouth netas went haywire before and during the elections. After the party's huge victory, it is now high time that very strict codes of conduct are put in place regarding all public communication.
It is not for nothing that this government is being termed 'Modi 2.0' — Narendra Modi is the biggest and the most important asset that the BJP has today. The election was in truth fought in his name and a huge number of the voters pressed the blue button against the lotus symbol actually voting for Modi in their mind.
Today, Modi is synonymous with the BJP for many of its supporters.
Therefore, any step, any policy, any statement or any action that puts Narendra Modi in an embarrassing position is akin to putting the entire party under duress.
Now that Narendra Modi has taken over the reins of the government with an overwhelming majority, some party leaders should take utmost care about what might put him on a sticky wicket. Irresponsible statements to the media by certain leaders is a massive concern. The netas who are confused about what could embarrass the Prime Minister should be politely asked not to interact with the media — at least for the time being.
The Prime Minister himself has been asking the party’s motormouths to refrain from addressing the media with their wisdom. PM Modi recently said as much addressing the last National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Parliamentary meet. Though he delivered the words with a smile and in his characteristic casual tone, the gravitas was lost to none. There are media reports that Modi has warned his alliance partners and party leaders, and minced no words in cautioning them against making controversial remarks to the media.
Just Say No: Despite the PM’s clear direction to not babble in public, it is surprising that some BJP leaders are still doing so. (Photo: PTI)
"Media ke logo ko bhi pata hota hai ki 6 namune hain, vaha subah pahoch jayo, gate ke bahar khade raho, nikal ke kuchh to bolega (Some journalists know that there are these six characters (politicians) in the party who would make some controversial remark and they (journalists) would get their story scoop just by waiting for them by their gates)," Modi said with his trademark sarcasm.
Some journalists today are also politically tilted — some, very brazenly so. Therefore, any loose remark by a BJP leader is played ad nauseam on some TV channels — just to drive home a point.
In other words, these politicians scored — and could again score — a self-goal.
Yet, despite the Prime Minister’s clear stand on the issue, it is surprising that the party’s communication department does not seem to have a clear strategy yet on controlling certain leaders. This is where the BJP must get to work — immediately. Social media can now be even more dangerous than TV. Once you tweet or put up an embarrassing Facebook post, it's like a flying arrow — that will ultimately boomerang on you.
Not a sweet tweet: Giriraj Singh's tweet on Iftar reportedly provoked NDA allies. (Photo: PTI)
Take, for example, this recent 'Iftaar party' tweet from BJP MP Giriraj Singh.
कितनी खूबसूरत तस्वीर होती जब इतनी ही चाहत से नवरात्रि पे फलाहार का आयोजन करते और सुंदर सुदंर फ़ोटो आते??...अपने कर्म धर्म मे हम पिछड़ क्यों जाते और दिखावा में आगे रहते है??? pic.twitter.com/dy7s1UgBgy— Shandilya Giriraj Singh (@girirajsinghbjp) June 4, 2019
Reports suggested that the tweet created a needless political debate which ruffled the feathers of the NDA allies. Chirag Paswan, chairman of the Parliamentary committee of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), an ally of the BJP in the NDA, also reacted angrily on Twitter against the jibe by Singh.
लोक जनशक्ति पार्टी के स्थपाना से ही सबका साथ,सबका विकास,सबका विश्वास का मूल मंत्र पार्टी के आत्मा से जुड़ा हुआ है।मुझे खुशी है की इस मूल मंत्र को आदरणीय @narendramodi जी ने भी दोहराया है।त्योहार मनाने से समाज में समरस्ता आती है।इस तरह के प्रश्न भारत की परम्परा पर उँगलिया उठाते है https://t.co/PcStDbJjcF— Chirag Paswan (@ichiragpaswan) June 4, 2019
The BJP top bosses had to step in to quell yet another needless debate and, reportedly, Home Minister Amit Shah called up Giriraj Singh asking him to put a stopcock on the free flow of such statements.
At the end of the day, it was another unnecesary comment, another needless embarrassment for the party and particularly Prime Minister Modi. It was yet another example where a little bit of restraint, just a little bit, could have gone a long way.
It's time that some BJP leaders understand they are not working in isolation but are part of a giant political organisation — one which is scripting history in India.
These leaders have no right to disappoint the people of this country — and, more specifically, those who have given this historic mandate to the National Democratic Alliance and PM Modi.