By Sunil Garodia
When times are bad, things start going wrong from all angles. Even as the BJP is recovering from electoral reverses, some of its allies have started making discordant notes. The Shiv Sena first decided to break the alliance. Then, the TDP was miffed when promises were not fulfilled in the budget. Now, the Akali Dal has questioned the step-motherly treatment being meted out to the allies. In the north-east, the alliance with the Naga People’s Front is all but over and the BJP has a new partner in the newly-formed NDPP. To top all this, in-house critics like Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha have upped the ante and have formed a morcha to highlight farmer distress, among other things. Even the RSS is said to be unhappy with the way the government is being run. The BJP is being pounded from all sides.
In better times, the party could have afforded to brush these aside as rumblings of frustrated people. But electoral reverses in recent times, especially the massive swing away from it in Rajasthan, makes it necessary for the party to shed its lofty attitude and assuage the feelings of the allies. Recent polls have indicated that while the NDA will come back if polls are held now, they have also shown that the BJP might not get a majority on its own. Hence, it is required that the party keeps the allies in good humour.
It is not possible for the BJP to bring the Shiv Sena back into the fold as for the Sena it has become a question of survival. It has found that the alliance with the BJP is eating into both its cadre base and its vote bank. Since both parties are Hindutva based with not much to differentiate them and since the BJP is bigger and has more resources, it is quietly carving out a strong base in Sena bastions. Since the Sena cannot play the regional card too much (that space is occupied by Raj Thackeray’s MNS), it has to assert its individuality by breaking away from the big brother, especially since the party is infusing new thinking with Aditya Thackeray taking over the reins.
The TDP has been brought in line for the moment, but that is more due to the fact that the party is in a dilemma. The BJP is hanging the Jagan Congress sword over its head. Jagan Reddy has said that his party will not hesitate to ally with the BJP should the centre grant special status to Andhra Pradesh. State BJP leaders feel that the TDP is trying to weaken the party in the state. Hence, they feel than an alliance with Jagan Reddy will be better. Chandrababu Naidu knows this and will hence show dissent for public consumption but will toe the BJP line. With the picture in Karnataka not looking too rosy for the BJP, it needs Naidu to keep the flag flying in the south.
As for the Akalis, they are still licking their wounds after a massive defeat in the assembly polls. The BJP has suffered more in Punjab due to its alliance with the Akalis who ran a corrupt government in the state. Although the BJP does not have the organizational strength to go it alone, it needs to tell the Akalis to mend their ways and set their own house in order.
Finally, although party spokesmen have said that the BJP will not suspend both the Sinhas, one feels that if they continue their morcha, there will come a time when the party will have to act. Otherwise, the rank and file will get agitated. Also, it will embolden other critics within the party to join them. Hence, it is in the party’s favour to take disciplinary action against them.
Amit Shah has to tackle these situations with a lot of tact. Since becoming party president, the only tough times he faced were in the Bihar and Gujarat elections. But now he has too much on his plate. A lot has been heard about his cunning and guile. These are the times when they will be put to test. Any failure on his part will mean that the road to 2019 will be full of thorns.