SOROOR AHMED writes on the possible disintegration of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance or the NDA in the backdrop of the ever newer disclosures of alleged role of Hindutva activists in organised bomb blasts in Malegaon and other places in the country.

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SOROOR AHMED writes on the possible disintegration of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance or the NDA in the backdrop of the ever newer disclosures of alleged role of Hindutva activists in organised bomb blasts in Malegaon and other places in the country.

Apparently the BJP may be putting up a brave front, but the arrests of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and senior serving and former army and air force officers to be followed by those of several party functionaries, including an MP, have landed the Hindutva-turn-Moditva outfit in hell lot of trouble. The irony is that these developments have been taking place so close to the parliamentary election that the Sangh Parivar has not been left with any other card to play. While some of its leaders think it prudent to defend all those accused in these series of bomb blasts – not just at Malegaon as it is being made out but at many other places – some others are simply keeping mum, or have been rendered speechless.

The BJP is in complete disarray and its leaders are speaking in a different tone. They do not appear to have evolved any strategy – whether to defend the perpetrators of these heinous crimes or condemn them. The big question is: if there is turmoil within the Moditva brigade, what will be the future of the rump National Democratic Alliance. The recent developments have alarmed many of its constituents. While parties like Telugu Desam, National Conference, Trinamool Congress, etc., have either parted their ways or have already been maintaining a safe distance from the NDA, the likes of Biju Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) are seriously thinking in terms of drawing out a new course of action. Whether they will really jump off the NDA bandwagon before the parliamentary election or not is a different matter, but they certainly feel very much disturbed. Many of their leaders think that these bomb explosions are even worse than the systematic demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.

The recent anti-Christian riots coupled with the sensational revelations of the Sangh Parivar’s involvement in the bomb blasts have greatly dented the personal image of the Orissa chief minister, Navin Patnaik, whose father Biju – on whom he had named his party – refused to have any truck with the BJP way back in 1989. In about last one decade with the BJP, Navin had earned a lot of disrepute and gained little or nothing. It was under his rule that the Sangh Parivar grew further strong in that state, which has at least one-third tribal population.

Unlike Navin, who was novice to politics at the time of his father’s death, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has 35 years long experience of both the state and national affairs. As Union Minister during the V P Singh and Vajpayee governments, he has the experience of working both in a secular and a communal governments. Now since he has been in power in Bihar, with the BJP as a junior partner, for the last three years, he seems to have realised something different. Though he has not shown any sign of panic, there is enough evidence now that he has been trying to distance himself with the Sangh Parivar. On November 12, that is, just 12 days before his government completes three years in office Nitish shared dais with arch-rivals, the Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad and the Fertilizer Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, in the re-launch of the Barauni Fertilizer Plant. What came as a big surprise is that all the three leaders spoke on the issue of development of the state and hit out at the Thackerays. Earlier last month it was Nitish, who led an all-party delegation to the Prime Minister pressing him to take action against the Thackerays. Both Lalu and Paswan accompanied him.

Some other recent steps taken by him have embarrassed the BJP. He unilaterally announced the resignation of all the five Lok Sabha MPs of Janata Dal (United). Though both Lalu and Paswan also criticised this move yet it was the BJP spokesman and former Union minister, Rajeev Pratap Rudy, who chose to speak out against him. The BJP rank and file are furious as they feel cheated by the way the party has been left in the lurch by none else but the man who has been the partner for the last 11 years.

On November 1 Nitish flew back from Delhi to Patna while he was on the way to Sonepat to attend a high-profile NDA rally. The apparent reason was that the Shiv Sena executive president, Uddhav Thackeray, was to address that rally. The BJP bigwigs were foxed by this move of Nitish. The leadership is often embarrassed by the repeated anti-BJP diatribe by different Janata Dal (United) leaders. While the Janata Dal (United) spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP, Shivanand Tiwary, last month hit out at the BJP for the communal politics, another Rajya Sabha MP of the party, Dr Ejaz Ali, went to the extent of appealing to all the secular parties in the NDA to leave the alliance. The BJP leaders are of the view that it is Nitish who is instigating them to make such statements.

Be it Navin or Nitish, both seem to be caught in a fix. If they desert the BJP, what should be the alternative? They both know that it is not the assembly election, which is going to take place early next year and decide their fate. In fact it is the do-or-die battle for 81-year old Lal Krishna Advani, who is in the autumn of his political career. But both Navin and Nitish survive on the support of the BJP MLAs in their respective states. Their governments will collapse if the BJP pulls out. At present it cannot be imagined that Nitish will, all out of sudden, join hands with Lalu or for that matter Paswan – though they have shown some signs of coming closer – yet the recent developments only indicate that the Bihar chief minister does not feel at home with the BJP as a junior partner.

In contrast, for Navin there is no other alternative. His opposition in Orissa is the Congress Party, with which he cannot have any truck. If he joins hands with the Congress, he will lose the political space. As the third alternative is not so strong, the maximum he can do is to go alone.

The problem with the secular constituents in the NDA is that it is difficult for them to be with the party whose functionaries are so openly involved in triggering bomb explosions and even justifying the action. Yes, they joined hands with the BJP five years after the demolition of Babri Masjid and helped it form the government in 1998. But the five years period and the projection of the so-called dove, Atal Behari Vajpayee, paved the way for such an alliance.

That was the phase of Hindutva. Now is the age of Moditva. With LK Advani at the helm of affairs and Narendra Modi waiting in the wings to take over, the secular elements in the NDA look somewhat confused.

It seems that Nitish personally is now not so much interested in seeing Advani as the Prime Minister. He knows that once the BJP man is at the top of the government, it would not be easy to arm-twist the saffron party in Bihar.

Navin and Nitish are at present two secular stalwarts in the NDA. If they really want to distance themselves then the NDA will be left with just the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal – that is pre-1996 position.