The Raje red flag

Tussle in Rajasthan BJP frames inner party democracy,and central leadership’s ineptitude

Written by The Indian Express | Published: May 8, 2012 3:21:29 am

Tussle in Rajasthan BJP frames inner party democracy,and central leadership’s ineptitude

The regional leader,who may have proved himself or herself at the hustings,is kept in a state of permanent insecurity vis-a-vis competing leaders and rival factions. The central leadership blinks at the jostling at state level,occasionally stokes it and does nothing to douse the fires until they threaten to consume the party’s prospects in the next polls. This is the story so far and it reads like a typical Congress tale from the states. But it isn’t. It is,in fact,a rough description of the now-receding drama in the Rajasthan BJP,where Vasundhara Raje,the BJP’s most visible leader in that state,who commands the loyalty of the majority of its legislators,had threatened to resign — again. The events that snowballed after Raje objected to the proposed Lok Jagran Yatra by senior RSS-BJP leader Gulab Chand Kataria,had climaxed in a manner that recalled a similar moment after the BJP’s defeats in the assembly and Lok Sabha polls in 2009.

The faultlines in the BJP’s state unit are not new. Roughly,there is a divide between the section of the party that is traditional RSS-BJP and that which is made up largely of leaders who migrated to the BJP from other political streams,particularly from the now scattered Janata parivar,under Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s leadership,as political competition became bipolar in Rajasthan in the 1990s. The latter section is seen to be largely backing Raje.

Whatever the specific political dynamic in Rajasthan,it can now be seen as part of a pattern,in which the BJP makes things difficult for itself in states where its political opponents are most subdued. Just as the faction-ridden Rajasthan BJP is busy shooting itself in the foot while the underperforming Ashok Gehlot government does its best to make things easy for it in 2013,the BJP’s Karnataka mess is also entirely of its own making. Here,the BJP’s problem is B.S. Yeddyurappa,not its political adversary. In Gujarat,the party’s central leadership is yet to untangle the knots with Narendra Modi,while the Congress only waits and watches. Having said that,it is also true that just as the now-abating Rajasthan drama showcased the central BJP leadership’s ineptitude,the extent of Raje’s brinkmanship reaffirmed that the BJP is the more internally democratic party.

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