Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2 Years Modi Government: BJP in Namo Grip- A Case of Child controlling his Mother

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has certainly left a mark with his unique aplomb during last two years. But at times his grip over BJP has also raised questions: Is Modi bigger than Bharatiya Janata Party?

"Can politics be so ruthless where a son is in competition against his mother," Modi had said in December 2007 after his major electoral victory in Gujarat answering criticism that  henceforth Modi would play bigger than his party.

In the interim period especially since 2014, the name of BJP is, however, synonymous with Modi's name or at least about "Team Modi". Politically for the BJP, the last two years offered a typical mixed bag and more than that - a see-saw kind of situations. But overall the story of BJP has been story of Narendra Modi and his control over the party. The year 2014 undoubtedly belonged to it. 

Besides winning parliamentary polls with record 282 seats, BJP made optimum use of "Modi-wave" and installed its own chief ministers in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. It finished second in Jammu and Kashmir. By the turn of 2015, BJP had scripted history with 1058 state legislators across the country as against 949 of Congress.By May 2016, as BJP completes two-years in office, the successful forays into power in Assam with 30 percent vote share and entry into Kerala and West Bengal and sharing of power with PDP in Kashmir has made BJP a pan-India party.

The BJP victories in several state elections after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls have helped build the perception that the Narendra Modi government continues to enjoy the support of the people in various regions. In the last two years, the party has been able to install its chief ministers in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Assam. 

It also emerged as the second biggest party in Jammu and Kashmir, where it is part of the ruling coalition. 

But calendar year 2015 was an electoral nightmare - particularly for Modi and his handpicked BJP president Amit Shah.BJP was humbled in Delhi in February and Bihar in November. Worse both the defeats came at the hands of ardent Modi-baiters -- AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.In parliamentary politics too, the legislative business was lukewarm. The handicap of numbers in Rajya Sabha often left it clueless vis-a-vis economic reforms the party promised.The crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill still stands stalled, the Land Bill now is almost derailed. Individually top ranking BJP leaders got embroiled into corruption scandals – Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and even Modi’s “eyes and ears” Arun Jaitley. Though none of the allegations stuck, the gory Lalit Modi episode on Sushma and Raje and a past irregularity in Delhi cricket board against Jaitley often left the BJP on defensive.

Though none of the allegations stuck, the gory Lalit Modi episode on Sushma and Raje and a past irregularity in Delhi cricket board against Jaitley often left the BJP on defensive.

The poor electoral showing in Bihar and Delhi dispelled notions that Modi cannot be vanquished. Minorities were isolated further with nuns and churches attacked. There was an unnecessary beef debate after Dadri killing and a number of awards were returned.

Questions came up in the corridors of Lutyen's city: Has the countdown for BJP’s decline begun? 

Displaying intra-party differences, BJP veterans led by L K Advani and M M Joshi  lashed out at the Modi-Amit Shah duo. 

But a quick learner and an ear-on-ground politician, Modi acted fast and took corrective steps. 

In Assam, a locally popular leader was appointed as chief ministerial candidate and effective coalition worked out by roping in tribal forces and regional AGP.

Team Modi’s campaign in Assam revolved around Sarbanand Sonowal and focused more on local issues especially playing up the foreign immigration issue.

The BJP victories have also dealt a severe blow to Congress, which now has governments only in six states - with Karnataka being the only big state in its kitty. The party had won only 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections - to the BJP's 282 in a 545-member house.  BJP leaders say that the victory in Assam will have an impact on national politics and help build its campaign for the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly polls early next year. 

"The Assam victory will have an immense impact on national politics. It has sparked off debate about surgery in Congress and has energised the BJP cadres for the Uttar Pradesh elections," BJP MP Jagdambika Pal told IANS.

Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha and will be among five states where assembly polls will be held early next year. Party leader Tapir Gao said the BJP would also be looking for victory in Manipur next year.

The party’s coming to power in Assam, its entry in Kerala assembly and being part of the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir has made BJP a truly pan-India party. BJP has appears to have replaced Congress as the primary pillar of national polity. BJP leaders say the party’s performance in the future polls is directly linked to the peopleÂ’s perception about the Modi government's performance. "As a ruling party and a government, we may be doing far better job. But we need to do a lot in terms of the perception battle,” BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said.

Apparently, "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" brand of politics also got people's nod. “Voters seem to endorse aggressive nationalism as was seen during JNU-Afzal Guru episode,” said one key leader. 

Of all the things said by rival politicians on BJP;  Congressman Shashi Tharoor’s eloquent remarks deserve dissection. “An ambitious man, Narendra Modi appears to realize that ….. he wants to make a success of his government,” wrote Tharoor in his blog for The Huffington Post in 2014. 

Two years have gone. Public pressure is mounting about governance. “Prime Minister Modi does not have an excuse for failure,” says Subhash C Kashyap, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha.Others too agree about a national debate on whether the Modi government which came with a boom of fresh breeze has proved to be a boon or a bane.

Lone Nagaland MP, Neiphiu Rio told IANS: "“it is time to implement, mere slogans won’t help”.
In between came in BJP’s spoilsports. Many insiders lament blunders like Uttarakhand.
On the flip side, the BJP has had to tick off some of its own MPs for remarks that created controversies and sought to take away focus from governance. There also have been controversies created by fringe elements. 

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan BhagwatÂ’s remarks about quotas, which the organization subsequently clarified, are believed to have cost BJP dearly in the Bihar assembly polls. The party also suffered as its campaign was seen to be aggressive and it had no local leader as chief ministerial candidate.
BJP’s inherent challenges, however, would be “Bhagwa brigade’ (hardliners); and the likes of Dharm Jagran Manch reviving Ghar-Wapsi (re-conversion) bogey threatening to derail Modi, the catalyst of development.  

Should not the ruling party of India shun some of these gully politics?

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