Playing in Goa: Modi coronation, LKA eclipse and the pariwar!

Don’t be fooled by what you see at the BJP national executive. The smooth script will hide the intrigues and counter-intrigues that characterize the conduct of the sangh parivar. The wounds are sure to fester and the events leading up to Modi's coronation will cast a shadow for a long time to come.

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Ajay Singh | June 7, 2013




The cloak and dagger game within the Sangh Parivar which saw the unceremonious exit of Nitin Gadkari as BJP president in February is expected to play out the act in Goa’s national executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As the party’s general secretaries sit together in a little while today (June 7) to chart out agenda for the two-day function, they will merely be planning how to go through the rituals without making it seem like a charade.

That the principal agenda of the conference is to anoint Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the number uno in the party is an open secret. When you get to read the script for Modi’s installation in the next few days, it will seem like there are no kinks in it. But don’t be fooled. This smooth script will only hide the intrigues and counter-intrigues that characterize the conduct of the sangh parivar but the wounds are sure to fester and the events leading up it will cast a shadow on the coronation. 

Once again the power struggle within the RSS appears to have had a direct bearing on BJP’s internecine factionalism. Given Gadkari’s proximity to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, his exit was seen as a direct affront to overweening influence of the Sangh. Though Gadkari’s ouster was seen as the fallout of opposition by Advani, insiders believe that he was found expendable in the tussle between Mohan Bhagwat and RSS joint general secretary Suresh Soni, RSS’ pointsperson in the BJP.

Read more: Bhagwat-Soni turf war took Gadkari's head, not Advani's stand

Gadkari’s exit and Rajnath’s installation just put a lid on the internal fights, but below the surface the hostilities only intensified as new friends became enemies and vice versa. Take this for example: Though Gadkari himself was the victim of a raging RSS feud, Advani also had made no bones about his extreme dislike for Gadkari being given a second term. When even Bhagwat could not save him, Gadkari proposed Rajnath as the compromise candidate to succeed him. Yet, just one month later, Gadkari found himself unwanted and underutilised in the party as Rajnath did not allot him work that he desired. A rift developed between Gadkari and Rajnath and in no time, Gadkari was successfully won over by Advani who lent a shoulder to Gadkari and even campaigned with Rajnath on behalf of Gadkari to no effect.

Advani  wanted Rajnath to give Gadkari the responsibility of the central election management committee to manage state assembly elections. With Karnataka elections clearly in sight, Gadkari was eager to take up the new assignment. Advani tried to persuade Rajnath to give this assignment to Gadkari and subsequently is reported to have spoken with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and RSS general secretary Bhaiyya ji  Joshi.

Advani’s lobbying for Gadkari was seen as a clever move by the veteran leader to mend fences with the RSS. Even that did not work on Rajnath and he, in fact, reportedly tried to dissuade Gadkari from taking up the assignment as it would trigger fresh controversies.  However the reality was that it was not Rajnath who put his foot down. It was Suresh Soni who did that. Rajnath owes his political clout within the RSS to Soni. In one deft move, Soni managed to stave off not only Advani but also Gadkari, a protégé of Bhagwat.

This was the precise reason why the BJP president kept on delaying the allotment of work to senior leaders including general secretaries for weeks on end. For the first time, the party appeared to be in the grip of organizational drift, a situation of extreme discomfort for the RSS-trained cadres. 

It is in the dark shadow of these events that one has to look at the new agenda of the BJP leadership that is calling the shots now: stoking the passion on Modi mania. Modi’s larger-than-life image prompted even adversaries like Rajnath and Arun Jaitley to join the phenomenon and bask in the reflected glory of the man who is projected to redefine Indian politics.

Rajnath has latched on to the popular imagination and party-cadre clamour for Modi to secure his place in the party. That Singh has been second guessing Modi and acting according to the latter’s whims if not wishes is evident in the elevation of Amit Shah not just to the post of general secretary, but in giving him charge of the largest state in India: Uttar Pradesh. Similarly Jaitley is seen to be doing fire-fighting on behalf of Modi with the CBI breathing down the latter’s neck in the fake encounter case of Ishrat Jehan and the assassination of Haren Pandya.

There is little doubt that Advani has serious reservations in projecting Modi as prime ministerial candidate for 2014 polls. His reservations emanate from his understanding of the emerging political scenario where Modi’s projection could derail the collective anger against the UPA. But the new generation of BJP leadership sees this argument of Advani as a disguised attempt to keep himself in the race. Realising that the groundswell of emotion is against his formulation, Advani finally acquiesced to Rajnath’s proposal to declare Modi as chairman of the campaign committee (which decision will be announced here). 

However he is believed to have reiterated his proposal to let Gadkar head the election management committee to supervise the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi. Given the widening trust deficit that exists among the various key players of the saffron family, this proposal may not even get sympathetic hearing.

So get ready to witness the eclipse of the Advani era by Modi mania built upon a foundation of deceit, distrust and deception within the pari-war!

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