Right foot forward
Old guard revolt: Can Modi split BJP just like Indira did with Congress?
In this rebellion, we may have the seeds of a BJP (M) in the making, a la Congress.
- Total Shares
On last Sunday evening in Delhi, I was the solitary "mourner" at an impromptu bash in the house of a senior journalist in Delhi, who and his fellow journalists were celebrating their accurate prediction of the Bihar results. I agreed to be included since alcohol helps as much to uplift the spirit as it does to dissolve sorrow. Somewhere down a few pegs - an easy equilibrium is struck - when both sets hit the same wavelength. So after a few drinks - we were discussing how knives would soon be out in BJP. Leading commentators also wrote to the same effect ("Modi to face the heat" or "the bumpy road to 2019") But, little did one expect such quick "viagra-fication" of the old guard (average age 82).
Of course, as expected Shourie was the first to get off the block. While it may have been clear he was being the spokesman of a certain section - who from "sour grapes" turned into the "we told you so" rabbis - few did anticipate that he was the forerunner for the octogenarian band to follow. Whether planned or coincidental - the timing couldn't have been more opportune with Modi taking off to the UK - a visit if cancelled he would appear like a tin-pot dictator who had to return home to quell a rebellion.
Though irony may die a thousand deaths - Congress would be naive not to capitalise on the developments - whether with Chidambaram talking of fireworks before Diwali (though Tamil Diwali was over this morning) or Surjewalla complimenting the BJP "elders" for speaking out what the nation already knew but was afraid to say. One cannot also grudge the "liberal" detractors of BJP rejoicing over what could potentially be the fall of the pin-striped chaiwallah.
Without taking off on "conspiracy theories" - which may not be entirely unfounded - that would have required a master scriptwriter with multiple producers, directors and actors - it may be said there was a well laid out plan to waylay Modi - which he and Amit Shah (under Jaitley's ill-advised counsel) naively walked into. If Advani & Co were genuine well-wishers of the party - they wouldn't have taken the battle public even while building pressure internally for some heads to roll. But, to seek the replacement of a general immediately after a defeat or a captain after losing a series - smacks of malice and destructive intentions.
Hopefully, a person as astute as Modi - with his own network of intelligence - would not have been unaware of the forces working against him - though he might have erred on the timing and intensity of the strike. So, what are the options before him? I would appear that so far - in the last 18 months - he has tried to balance and accommodate various interest groups within the "Parivar" hoping that they would sort themselves out over time. It doesn't require supra-mental powers to decipher Modi would have banked heavily on the Bihar results for putting to rest opposition both outside and within the party - a miscalculation that tragically backfired for which he has only himself, Amit Shah and, perhaps to some extent, Jaitley to blame. So what are the options ahead of him? Seeking a compromise - and coming to an understanding with RSS and other hostile groups within the party may not be a solution.
Modi one reckons is a "lambe daur ka ghoda". He has bided his time to become the PM and he isn't a politician in a hurry. So, in the short term, he has to play for high stakes - like an Indira Gandhi who took on the "syndicate" and gambled with splitting the party. This might mean his going back to the people - even with the possibility of losing the polls to a hurriedly cobbled-up Mahagathbandhan. But, then he would every chance of making a comeback with a vengeance - having purged the BJP of its baggage and deadweight (be it of RSS or the "Old Guard") - building from scratch a true right wing party tailored for modern times and modern challenges.