BJP's political Alzheimer's

The party's state leadership is miffed with the way the top bosses in Delhi handled the Shibu Soren affair


Ajay Singh | April 29, 2010

BJP president Nitin Gadkari
BJP president Nitin Gadkari

A fax letter from Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren's son, Hemant Soren, to BJP chief Nitin Gadkari this afternoon has thrown the party leadership into disarray. Through the letter, Hemant staked his claim to the chief minister's post and sought the BJP's help.

Right since morning, Shibu Soren, along with his son and close confidants, closeted for hours at their residence in Ranchi and conveyed it to the BJP leadership that Shibu Soren was ready to make way for any other JMM leader to take over the reins of the state. Hemant is learnt to have contacted the local BJP leaders in Ranchi and sought their mediation.

Curiously enough, the party's central leadership which had decided to discontinue the alliance with JMM following Shibu Soren's vote in Lok Sabha against the cut motion reconciled to the idea of trying its own luck in the government formation. In fact, till Tuesday, the JMM leadership agreed to support any BJP candidate for the post of the chief minister to avoid the fall of the government.

But the situation changed dramatically today. Though the BJP leadership conveyed its willingness to pull the plug on the Soren government, their decision was deferred in view of the new developments. In the afternoon, Hemant Soren's fax flummoxed the BJP leadership and put paid to the party's hope of forming a government in the state.

Apparently, there appears to be vertical division within the BJP leadership over the Jharkhand issue. A section of top leadership seems to be insistent on retaining the government by all means as Jharkhand would be crucial to Bihar elections in terms of resource mobilisation. The state leadership is, however, averse to the idea of maintaining a tie-up with the JMM. What appears to have irked the state leadership is the overbearing approach of the party's central leadership in enforcing their politically counter-productive decisions, admitted a senior BJP leader in Ranchi.

In a candid remark, a state BJP functionary said that it appeared that “political Alzheimer's” had taken grip of the BJP more than Shibu Soren. Those who know Shibu Soren's history were hardly surprised when Soren ditched his alliance partner, BJP, and voted for the Congress. If there is one correct prediction about Soren, it is about his “consistence in inconsistency” commented a state BJP leader who did not want to be identified. There is hardly any doubt that the BJP chose Soren as the chief minister not for his high credibility quotient. The party knew about the criminals cases against him and his unreliable political conduct.

The BJP's decision to foist Soren as chief minister on the people of Jharkhand only reflects the drift within the party. It was really strange that Soren was called to vote in the Lok Sabha on the cut-motion throwing norms of constitutional propriety to the winds. Perhaps the BJP's crisis managers forgot the fact that they had opposed the Congress when the party brought in Orissa chief minister Giridhar Gomang to vote in the no-confidence motion against the Vajpayee government in 1998.

Given the fact that Soren has been facing criminals cases being probed by the CBI, he was virtually rendered a “Trojan horse”, to put it in Arun Jaitley's words, by none other than the party's top echelons. Obviously the state BJP leadership is quite piqued over the manner in which a dominant clique of the BJP's central leaders dealt with the whole issue.



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