Friday 18th Jan 2019
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Congress, BJP Exercise Cosmetic Changes Before 2014

Policital Jiggery Pokery


Both Congress and BJP are trying to rejuvenate the spirit of their cadres by putting their best foot forward in order to prepare ground for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. From now onwards, the onus on Rahul Gandhi as vice president of Congress and Rajnath Singh as president of BJP would be to strengthen organisational roots and structure of their respective parties and to expand their horizon far and wide. But for now, it is a wild guess to make as to who will be able to sail the ship of his party to the shore.

As for Rahul Gandhi, let us put the record straight, so far he has failed to mesmerise the people to come out of their houses to vote for his party. His first political spell can be rated as below average on the desired scale. He failed to make an impact in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh assembly elections where he campaigned extensively with all in his might. In 2012 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh Congress won 28 seats out of 404 which was four seats less than what the party had got in 2007. In 2010, in Bihar, the Congress could win only four out of 243 seats, after Rahul decided to go alone. Rahul’s political dexterity was seriously doubted and questioned at that point of time.

On the contrary, the party had expected from him to turn the tide in favour of the party but the turnout was far less than expected. By that time he had realised that Congress organisational structure was not firmly on the ground and the cadres were ignorant of the ground reality and necessity. Rahul’s last day appearance in Gujarat assembly elections was simply a walkover. Can we now believe that his second spell may do wonders for the party?

No doubt, Rahul brilliantly displayed his political acumen and valour when he rode pillion on a motorcycle to reach Bhatta Parsaul to join farmers’ protest but he failed to keep the momentum going. On many important issues he has not been able to assert himself accordingly. Congress could have gained remarkably by tilting the mood of the country in its favour by acceding to the demand of Rahul Gandhi by taking forward his demand for constitutional status to Lokpal to its logical conclusion. In politics, even a single issue can at times shape the political destiny and Rahul has to figure it out in the days to be ensued. He needs to re-orient the approach and strategy of his party to address the aspirations of the people, including minorities

Many believe that political arithmetic changes from time to time and from one election to another. Assembly election and general election are altogether a different ball game. In that context, performance of Rahul can be presumed to be different from assembly election to Lok Sabha election if we go by the example of Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 where Congress gained handsomely.  

After being elevated to number two in the party officially, Rahul in his blueprint for the Congress said that that he wants to use Congress as an instrument for change in the country. In his first address to the media since he became Vice President of the party, Rahul said, “We (political parties) are fighting with each other over small things. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to get into negative politics; I’ll use positive politics, because that will take the country forward.” But the big question: will he be able to mould the approach of his party for that change or will he simply follow the footsteps of the past Congress leaders?  

The BJP’s closed door warriors forced the high rank and file in the RSS and BJP to consider alternatives which could help the party to put a brave face in the changing political scenario. Election of Rajnath Singh is viewed in the political circles as a compromise formula where it could be a win-win situation for RSS and the BJP. The transition from Nitin Gadkari to Rajnath Singh on the face value appears to be smooth but many believe that it was not as simple as it has unfolded in the media. Recently, senior RSS ideologue MG Vaidya, while talking to reporters in Nagpur, said there was sharp division in the higher ranks of the BJP over second term for Gadkari and that is why Gadkari has to quit the post. Gadkari not seeking second term is visualised as a personal setback to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who was desperate for a second term for Gadkari. RSS was looking for someone who can vociferously take up their cause and if needed can defend the organisation from all quarters, particularly after the terror taint by the investigating agencies.

With two important announcements in the BJP and Congress, the psephologists are busy in calculating the fine-prints as to how the politics will take shape and how the parties will gear for the coming mega political event. Some of them have already started to speculate that 2014 general elections will be fought between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. But only time will say whether they will have any say in the coming general elections.

After re-inducting firebrand Hindutva face of the BJP Kalyan Singh to its fold the party wanted to find out someone who can play some role in reviving the BJP in the Hindi heartland and that is why it is believed that Rajnath Singh was chosen president of the party with the responsibility of consolidating BJP’s prospects in Uttar Pradesh. The politics of Uttar Pradesh and voting behaviour has changed dramatically and under such circumstances the role of Kalyan Singh may not yield political dividend for the BJP as it was also expected from induction of Uma Bharati. People are trying to step out of the religious and caste barriers, which we have witnessed in the last assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. This can be substantiated from the fact that BJP even lost the Ayodhya seat in last UP assembly elections.

BJP has to realise sooner or later that divisive and Hindutva politics will never help to retain power at the centre. BJP wants to consolidate in the Hindi heartland because its only citadel in south (Karnataka) has crumbled when Yedyurappa split the party to form his own and is providing tough challenge to the BJP in the state. For Rahul Gandhi, he can move forward because most of Congressmen will stand by him but it may not be as smooth for Rajnath Singh because of intense infighting in the BJP’s high rank and file. It may almost be difficult for Rajnath Singh to maintain perfect equilibrium between RSS and BJP.

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