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BJP wide open,eyes wide shut

After Jaswant,it’s Yashwant: ‘rat race for goodies and party’s conspiracy of silence’....

Written by Ravish Tiwari | New Delhi |
June 13, 2009 3:34:53 am

Just a fortnight ago,they elected L K Advani to lead the party in the Lok Sabha and “authorised” him to appoint its new faces in both Houses. Now the top brass are openly questioning him and his decision in what has become a very public fight over the spoils of defeat.

So barely minutes before BJP president Rajnath Singh imposed a gag order on leaders from airing their views in public and warned of disciplinary action today,vice president Yashwant Sinha quit from all his posts in the party and urged others to do the same in a four-page letter marked to his chief and circulated among the party’s core group.

In that letter,Sinha hit out at what he called the “conspiracy of silence” in the party over the electoral debacle and the “rat race for posts” from “whatever goodies were available.”

“It appears as if some people in the party are determined to ensure that the principle of accountability does not prevail,” he wrote,“so that their own little perch is not disturbed.” While Sinha underlined that the party leadership’s “reluctance to introspect and introspect comprehensively” on the BJP’s second successive defeat in the Lok Sabha elections was the key reason behind his move,the subtext was clear.

After Jaswant Singh’s letter earlier this week,Sinha’s note that “BJP puts a premium on failure,” exposes the deep resentment in a section of the party over the appointment of Arun Jaitley as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Sushma Swaraj as Advani’s deputy in the Lok Sabha.

That Rajnath Singh’s term also ends this year has added another dimension to this internal war — who will be the next party chief.

“We failed to carry out a review after our defeat in the last election (2004). I am getting a sinking feeling that once again there is a conspiracy of silence. We are shying away from pin-pointing our weaknesses and fixing responsibility. We are hoping that time shall heal our wounds,” Sinha wrote.

“Advaniji set a fine example of accountability by declining to take up the position of the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. It was an eminently appropriate and dignified decision,” said Sinha and then rubbed it in. “He was persuaded to continue. So have the others who wanted to take responsibility and resign,it appears as if some people in the party are determined to ensure that the principle of accountability does not prevail so that their own little perch is not disturbed. Separately,in our anxiety to distribute amongst the few higher mortals in the party whatever goodies were available,we completely disregarded the parliamentary party constitution in the election of the office-bearers of the parliamentary party on May 31. It is difficult to avoid the impression that in the BJP we put a premium on failure.”

Jaswant’s note,too,had raised a similar point when he asked for a link between “performance and reward.”

“…While one of the one hand,the BJP is avoiding a systematic appraisal of its performance,on the other,those who were responsible for the management of the campaign have already made their views public through interviews and articles in the media,drawn their conclusions,apportioned blame and given themselves a clean chit. Those of us who actually toiled in the field and took all the risk have not even been heard,” Sinha said.

Calling for the party to implement “its own Kamraj Plan,” Sinha said all office-bearers of the party and the parliamentary party should resign from their posts which should then be filled up through the “process of election laid down by our constitution.”

Sinha’s resignation also questions the writ of the party leadership. Evidence: Rajnath Singh feigned ignorance about Sinha’s resignation while asking leaders not to air their views in public. “It has been decided that,henceforth,all party leaders and functionaries should refrain from formally or informally sharing any views or inputs outside the party forums such as the media or any other platform,about the internal deliberations within the party or share any information that might negatively impact the image of the party,failing which they will invite disciplinary proceedings against themselves,” Rajnath Singh said.

The fact that the BJP chief chose to impose his orders “henceforth” ignoring the earlier public airing of views by Arun Jaitley and Jaswant Singh indicated his inability to act against “erring” senior leaders.

It was probably in this context that the BJP,which chose not to accept the resignation of some of its state unit chiefs owning moral responsibility for the party’s poor performance,was today quick to accept Sinha’s resignation without delay.

Denying the charge that there was disarray at the top,Rajnath said that the “BJP leadership stands united” and an “exhaustive and collective exercise” of analysing the poll results had begun. “The entire process will culminate in a detailed Chintan Baithak after the conclusion of this session of Parliament in August,” he said. This put a question mark on the party’s national executive,slated for June 20-21,but there was no official word on it.

In his letter,Sinha also raised substantive political points: the party’s need to introspect on its “basic tenets”,the campaign style of leaders,the faces projected and the language used.

More importantly,Sinha pointed out the need to understand the mood of demographically different group of voters,notably,that of “minorities,first-time voters,women,SC/STs,the urban middle class,the government employees” along with that of farmers and the industrial workers. “Which is the vote bank we have lost? Which is the vote bank we have gained?,” he asked.

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