With the constituents of INDIA launching their drive for smooth seat sharing, the mainstream media, in collaboration with the media cell of the BJP, has launched fresh endeavour to recreate the image of Narendra Modi of being a strong and decisive administrator and an astute politician. This drive has become imperative in view of the strong displeasure expressed by the top RSS leadership. The RSS leaders nurse the view that the present electoral crisis has been created by none else but by Modi himself.
The first step in the mission to salvage the image of Modi and restore his charisma has been drafting of seven central ministers and national leaders in the Madhya Pradesh’s electoral politics. Instead of projecting it as the last ditch effort to recover the lost ground and support in the state, they project it as the master stroke of Modi. But the bare fact is with a large number of senior BJP leaders, especially loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia, deserting the party and joining the Congress while the assembly election knocking at the door, has turned the ground slippery for BJP.
These seven leaders were drafted in state politics to send the message across that everything is fine in the party and there is no dearth of senior leaders capable to lead party to the assembly elections. Holding back the name of Shivraj Singh Chouhan is aimed at convincing the people of Madhya Pradesh that Modi and Shah are not kind to the non performing leaders. This is a very tricky situation.
Election watchers hold the view that this process may be repeated in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. But the main problem is the BJP does not leaders of that stature who can be projected as replacement for Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh and Maharani Vasundhara Scindia in Rajasthan. Only a day back Shah and JP Nadda had a detailed late night discussion with Scindia, but it does not appear that this would help soothe the hurt feelings of Scindia that Modi was deliberately ignoring her. While Shah and Nadda talked to her, so far Modi had not thought of contacting her. Senior leaders feel that this is more of the nature of ego clash than a political clatter.
Before meeting, Shah and Nadda had explored the possibility of enticing some senior Congress leaders in the state. But they did not succeed. Significantly after the meeting the national media has been trying to project the event as a major gain for the party which would propel the electoral prospect of the party but the sources confide that this is being seen more as the personal gain of Vijaya Raje Scindia. In fact after the meet, she addressed a rally of women workers and cadres but was quite restrained in choosing words in praise of Modi. She told the women to assert their identity.
The realisation has dawned on the BJP and RSS circles that the design of Modi and Shah not to allow the state leadership grow has been proving to be a major threat in its endeavour to grab power for the third time at centre. Some senior leaders confess that this nature of appalling situation might not have arisen if Modi would have allowed space to the state leaders. He gagged the voice. He had created an atmosphere of terror. The state leaders were scared of telling the truth. The leaders who dared to speak on his face were sidelined.
The electoral scenario for the party is not better in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Modi and Shah was not sure that the present leaders of both the states would be able to deliver the result. A fortnight back Amit Shah on his usual visit to Bihar tried to create divisions within the Opposition alliance INDIA and lure Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar back to the NDA. Some four months back on his visit to north Bihar, Shah had outright declared that Nitish would not be allowed space in the NDA as he is unwanted. His remark had created the impression that Nitish was trying to go back to NDA. But the same Shah during his recent visit cautioned Nitish of being aware of his allies as “they would sink him”. His concern for Nitish was purely unwanted and even the state BJP nursed the view that Shah was keeping the gate open for Nitish.
Shah addressing a rally in Jhanjharpur said: “The union of the RJD and the Janata Dal United is like mixing oil and water. I have come to tell Nitishbabu that oil and water can never be one, however deep their selfish interests. The oil will not lose anything but will make the water dirty. The alliance you have struck to become Prime Minister is going to sink you.”
The situation in Bihar is indeed scary. Modi and Shah are deeply concerned about the upcoming elections in Bihar. While the party has no leader of its own, its allies are also nonexistent. Baring the Vikasheel Insaan Party, all others confined to some districts. None of them could claim to be a state level party. Earlier the BJP had only one ally, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by Union Minister Pasupati Kumar Paras, which has no representative in the Assembly. Recently it garnered the LJP (Lok Janshakti Party) led by Chirag Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha’s RLJP (Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party), Mukesh Sahni’s VIP (Vikassheel Insaan Party), and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM (Hindustani Awam Morcha).as allies.
Unfortunately for Modi and Shah, their appeal to the OBC and dalits does not appear to be working. Even the upper castes view the actions of Modi and Shah with suspicion. Shah brought in Samrat Choudhary as the state party chief. But he has proved to be an utter failure in connecting with the OBCs. He is viewed as loud mouth leader having no mass appeal like his father, a senior Congress leader. Yet another IBC leader Sushil Modi is merely a paper tiger. Though the BJP does not have a dalit or a backward leader in its rank, the leaders of its allies are also not capable to entice the voters. Young Chirag Paswan, son of dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan is unable to connect with the Dalits. He is more a urbane middle class leader than a dalit face. Jitan Ram Majhi and Kushwaha are the creations of Nitish. The turncoats are in a dominant position, but none of them could claim to be mass leaders.
In Uttar Pradesh the situation is more or less the same. The OBC faces and political parties which have joined BJP are not proving to be effective. On July 16, Om Prakash Rajbhar, founder and president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) who earlier was with Akhilesh Yadav returned to the NDA fold more than four years after breaking ties, with the hype that he would swing the Jatav and dalit votes. But results of the Ghosi assembly bye election exposed the myth of the claim. No doubt the BJP managed to win 2022 assembly elections, but that ought to be viewed indifferent backdrop. It did not reflect the mood of the voters and attitude of the people towards BJP now.
Nevertheless Lalu and Nitish have cautioned their allies to move steadily towards amicable seat sharing. Both the leaders in fact have shifted into election mode. Only Friday morning Lalu and Nitish held closed door meeting. Tejashwi Yadav also held closed-door meetings with his grassroots party leaders on September 10 and 11. Lalu Yadav has also asked his party leaders to achieve the best possible results. It is a fact that Lalu’s political future hinges on his ability to prevent the BJP from replicating its 2019 success.
The importance of the 2024 election for RJD could be gauged from the fact that in two days, Tejashvi interacted with 850 leaders. On the first day, September 11, he met with leaders from 51 party organisations, district presidents, and subdivision in-charges. On the second day, September 12, he will meet with 534 block presidents from all 243 assembly seats in the state. Previously, Kumar held one-on-one meetings with party MLAs and MLCs. INDIA partners are taking the Lok Sabha polls with big seriousness in Bihar. Amit Shah’s plans may come to a cropper. (IPA Service)