By Kalyani Shankar
Both the Congress party and the BJP – the two main national parties- are facing internal problems in the states where they rule. The basic difference between the two parties is the Congress is on the decline while the BJP is growing to replace Congress in its heydays.
Once proud of its exemplary discipline and organizational unity, the BJP is at present facing internal feuds. It is not that other political parties have not seen their leaders working at cross purposes. But it makes news when this happens in BJP.
Why is it happening when the party is claimed to be passing through a golden period in its history? Although Narendra Modi has emerged as the strongest Prime Minister since the days of Indira Gandhi, the second wave of the Coronavirus outbreak has dented his image though he continues to be popular. The vaccine policy, bed shortage, and oxygen shortage have added to the confusion. The Modi magic has not worked in the recent Assembly elections.
The first problem is that the BJP has admitted many defectors in poll-bound states. But there is heartburn among the old BJP workers that while they had been slogging for years those who entered the party yesterday are getting the rewards. This is what has happened in U.P. Karnataka, Assam, Uttarakhand. And West Bengal.
In U.P, the stakes are very high as it is the biggest state. In 2017, the BJP won a massive majority. The dissidents have many issues. A.K. Sharma, a retired Gujarat cadre officer who worked in the Prime Minister’s office has been made an MLC in U.P early this year. He is expected to be made a minister soon. The old-timers see him as a threat as he has the ears of the Prime Minister. Some dissidents are demanding a change of chief minister. There is also some strain in the relationship between chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Narendra Modi.
As for West Bengal, the defectors from the Trinamool Congress are in the process of returning to the TMC starting with the BJP’s biggest catch Mukul Roy. In the past he had been a blue-eyed boy of chief minister Mamata Banerjee. There are rumblings in the local BJP unit about the poll strategy.
Governance in Karnataka is suffering due to internal feuds. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is facing indiscipline and there is a demand for his replacement.
Dissidence in Tripura has once again reared its ugly head. A few MLAs, most of the Congress turncoats have been demanding chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s ouster
In Rajasthan, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje is refusing to heed the new state leadership. She has been launching her own programs. All these go to show that all is not well with the BJP at the local level. However, these are not beyond control.
The Congress is at present driven with simmering discontent, mutual bickering, and intraparty disputes. When the leaders are weak, naturally the state units are emboldened to raise their voice.
Only last August some 23 leaders including top leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, and B. S. Hooda had sent a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi seeking urgent reorganization of the party.
In the congress ruled states like Punjab and Rajasthan, rebels are demanding the removal of the chief ministers. Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has launched a scathing attack against the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. High command has decided to accommodate both factions in party and government.
Rajasthan faced a rebellion last year when Sachin Pilot raised a banner of revolt against the chief minister Ashok Gehlot but he was pacified by the high command. Sachin Pilot is accusing the central leadership of not keeping up the promises.
One by one ‘Team Rahul’ is getting dismantled. Two of Rahul’s trusted lieutenants Jyotiraditya Scindia and now Jitin Prasada have joined the BJP. Sachin Pilot is debating whether to leave congress. So is Milind Deora.
It is nobody’s case that there has never been indiscipline and factionalism in both parties. It is only a question of how soon these rebels are contained. While the BJP, as the ruling party at the centre can crack the whip, the Congress, being in the opposition does not have that luxury. Today the Congress party’s chances of acquiring power in New Delhi in the immediate future appear bleak, and therefore different factions can make credible threats to exit the organization. How it deals with the dissidents is to be seen.
New parties are born when people get disenchanted with the existing parties. But internal problems arise because the party men feel there is no future for them in that party. It is for the party leaders to manage the emerging competition among the factions. (IPA Service)