By Soroor Ahmed
When the Bharatiya Janata Party chief J.P. Nadda said in Patna on July 30 that all the regional parties would soon be finished, he left one thing unsaid: that is, all the state-level strong leaders of his own party too would be marginalised.
Incidentally, just a day later Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in the same meeting of BJP front organisations held in Bihar’s capital that his party would go with Janata Dal (United) in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2024 and 2025 respectively.
More than a fortnight later when the BJP reconstituted the Parliamentary Board and Central Election Committee, it simply excluded all the chief ministers. The only existing one, Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan as well as the former party president and Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari, were shown the door.
If the aim was to promote younger lot, why was former Karnataka chief minister, B S Yediyurappa included when he is 78-year-old? Actually, he was sent packing a year back on the ground that he is too old and unable to carry on the leadership in the state which is going to poll in the summer of 2023. It was then alleged that he headed a very corrupt government and may lead the party to disastrous defeat in the coming poll. If this was the case, why was he suddenly included in the Parliamentary Board?
At the same time, one may ask, if the chief ministers have been excluded, why has deputy CM of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, been included? The general impression is that he has been taken into the team to compensate for the loss of another prominent leader from Nagpur, Nitin Gadkari. Nagpur is the headquarters of the RSS and both the leaders are considered close to the Sangh bigwigs.
Only on July 7, 2021 Prakash Javadekar, who also hails from Maharashtra, was dropped from the Narendra Modi cabinet. No valid reason was given as to why he along with another Union minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad from Bihar, were removed.
Political observers are of the view that Shivraj Singh Chouhan was excluded not just because the party wants to clip his wings after his reinstatement as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh on March 23, 2020, but also because the leadership wanted to send a message to his Uttar Pradesh counterpart, Yogi
Adityanath. The party has now got an excuse that since there is no chief minister in the Parliamentary Board, how can Yogi be included.
While Yediyurappa has been included because of the mess in Karnataka unit of the BJP, Fadnavis has
been consoled after he was asked on June 30 to take oath as the deputy chief minister, though earlier in the day he had openly said that he would be supporting the breakaway faction of the Shiv Sena from outside. It was humiliating for a former chief minister to work under Eknath Shinde, who had worked as a minister under him.
Sarbananda Sonowal was inducted because he is the only tribal leader from Assam and had been removed last year after serving as the chief minister for one full term. He was taken into the Narendra Modi cabinet on July 7, 2021.
The saffron party has already cut to size former deputy chief ministers of Bihar and Gujarat, Sushil Kumar Modi and Nitin Patel, by showing them the doors. The latter even broke down last year when he was not made the chief minister and subsequently not even included in the cabinet of much less experienced Bhupendra Patel.
Similarly, much junior and less experienced partymen were made chief ministers in Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
The central leadership also wanted to show Yogi his place in the summer of 2021. There was much murmuring in the party for the way the Yogi government handled the second wave of corona virus, which took a huge toll on life. It was actually the RSS top brass which intervened on his behalf as it was of the view that in Yogi there is a budding prime ministerial material for future – he is more than 20 years younger to Modi.
It was a compulsion to go to poll with Yogi in UP, but after the Assembly election victory he was once again told in not so many words that, at present, there is no vacancy for him at the top echelon of the party. So, he should not be so over-ambitious.
The Communist parties in the then Soviet Union and China were famous for purging the organisations. Those at the helm of affairs would not let others grow very fast so that they may threaten the leadership itself.
Regarding regional non-BJP satraps or the chief ministers of opposition parties, the less said is better. After toppling the governments of the main opposition party, Congress, in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the BJP went on to play a similar game in Maharashtra. In Rajasthan it simply failed, though it has not totally given up the plan.
According to media reports, another such a move is underway in Jharkhand. In Bihar, if the Janata Dal
(United)’s allegation is to be believed, its leader Nitish Kumar had nipped in the bud the BJP’s move to overthrow his government. This is for the first time in the last several years that the BJP has been beaten on its own turf.
But as old habits die hard the BJP has not given up its efforts to unseat the opposition government. If Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s charge is to be accepted, he was asked to become Eknath Shinde. The raids started on him only when he refused to oblige the saffron brigade.
Many independent analysts are of the view that this over-centralisation of power in the hands of a few
is not good for democracy.