Differences of opinion as well as the assessment of advantages seem to have kept several inductions into the BJP on hold for now, sources in the party have said.
Mukul Roy’s departure from Trinamool Congress and Narayan Rane quitting the Congress have strengthened speculation that they might join the BJP, but the ruling party is assessing the impact of their induction and their utility for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the sources said.
While the party leadership said the state unit will take the final call, the sources said the BJP is most likely to utilise these leaders, their organisational skills and networking from the outside, instead of antagonising a large section of party leaders in their respective states by inducting them.
“No one has the political shrewdness and networking on the ground like Mukul Roy in West Bengal. His knowledge about the state till the booth level is unique. He will be like Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam — he has the ability to make the party stronger and reap electoral gains,” a senior BJP leader said.
“For Rane, he would be an asset to the party in the Konkan region, where the BJP has not been able to make its presence strong. The BJP has been missing a strong leader with political clout there. For us every seat is crucial in 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” said another party leader.
But at least three BJP leaders admitted that there has been strong resistance from the respective state units against their induction. The BJP had once pointed fingers at Roy for his alleged involvement in the Saradha funds mobilising scam, said a BJP leader.
When the party wants to go to town with Narendra Modi’s zero tolerance for corruption, the BJP would find it difficult to explain to its cadre the induction of leaders with a tainted image.
“No corruption charges against the government would be the party’s main election plank for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. When you fill your party with tainted leaders, the campaign would not be convincing,” the leader said.
The sources said the party leadership is contemplating using these leaders, including Shankersinh Vaghela in Gujarat, while keeping them outside the party framework.
The party may help them float political outfits that would assist the BJP in electioneering in the state and the 2019 parliamentary polls. The BJP is also in touch with Ritabrata Banerjee, who was with the CPI(M) but was removed. But sources ruled out his joining the BJP. “But these leaders can extend more assistance to the BJP during election time while being outside the party,” said party leader.
However, another section believes winnability and victory are more important in electoral politics.
Pointing out that there had been accusations against Sarma and some in the party had opposed his entry, a party leader said: “See how he has played a key role in the BJP’s victory in Assam and how he is helping the party build its position in the strategically important Northeast.”
The leader added there would always be some “insecurities and objections in the local unit when a big leader enters because he would definitely shake the apparatus”.
This section also cites the case of Uttar Pradesh where the party leadership had come under severe criticism for giving tickets to “outsiders and turncoats” . But Amit Shah’s strategy of poaching leaders from other parties had not only helped the BJP “demoralise and disarm” the Opposition parties but also win votes from areas where the BJP had not been a major force.
Senior leaders like Kailash Vijayvargiya had another justification. “Just like Ganga purifies all waters coming into it, the BJP purifies those who enter it.”