Narendra Modi era in BJP: No place for LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj?

by
Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar

New Delhi: The 'Modi'fication of BJP had begun last September when Narendra Modi was named prime ministerial candidate; if exit polls predictions come true then there's no running away from the primacy of 'NaMo' mantra in the days to come.

The BJP is at the cusp of a churning, perhaps the biggest since the rise of the Hindutva movement that catapulted the party from two Lok Sabha seats in 1982 to the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1996.

The BJP prides itself as being 'different', a party that believes and operates under a collective leadership with the parliamentary board being at the top of the pyramid.

One man is set to or has already changed it to a decisive extent – Narendra Modi. With blessings from Nagpur, the Gujarat strongman has emerged as the pivot around which the BJP will revolve if he makes it to 7, Race Course Road.

While BJP has to thank the UPA, given the mess that UPA-2's performance was, its resurgence also owes a lot to Narendra Modi, given the finesse with which he sold the 'Gujarat Model' to the rest of the country and reinvigorated the morale of the party cadre to start believing that 'Mount Raisina' is within reach.

The party cadre bought the dream but not all leaders did. It was not a case of not wanting power but more about wanting to be powerful.

While some key members of the BJP's 'Delhi gang' like Arun Jaitley became early converts, some others chose to get baptised when they found themselves among the fast depleting ranks of Modi's opponents. Then there were a few who chose to continue to hold the flag of rebellion even if that meant isolation.



LK Advani became the symbol of this dissent towards a changing BJP. Others like Sushma Swaraj cried hoarse over the apparent slighting of the patriarch but they had their own axes to grind. For one, Sushma was upset for having not been considered as the party's face for 2014 given the open endorsement of late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

She wanted a debate and that was not forthcoming – especially in the manner in which she wanted. The Modi show had begun.

Swaraj could still make amends but she chose not to join the cheer group rooting for Modi. All through the campaigning, Sushma kept to herself and seldom named Modi in her rallies. Also, she was one of the few senior leaders who skipped Varanasi.

She held on to her right to register dissent towards the emergence of a new power group within the party, in which she was not given any role.

Centre of gravity had shifted and she was off balance.

The new power centre was Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari formed the triangle of power around him. Powered by a direct hotline from the RSS, the new group took over the reins of the new BJP.

Now with a government under Modi looking to be a real possibility, his backers are set to bag big rewards. Rajnath Singh, whose unrelenting support ensured that Modi waded through the maze of bloated egos with relative ease, and others like Jaitley, Gadkari, Manohar Parrikar and Raman Singh are set to get more powerful in the days to come.

Murli Manohar Joshi may not be too enamoured by the Modi mania and walked on the border before falling in line and hence may be accommodated, possibly as Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

As for Sushma Swaraj, despite her rebellion, the Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Lok Sabha, will also find a place given the keenness being displayed by the BJP to reward everyone who played a role in the road to power. Reports have claimed that she may be given external affairs portfolio but it remains to be seen whether she will consider it a worthy assignment.

She is said to have demanded that all decisions on portfolios be made by the parliamentary board (Modi, Jaitley, Rajnath and Gadkari had held detailed parleys yesterday in Ahmedabad).

But the biggest quandary is to accommodate the man who became the PM, almost. LK Advani is the senior most leader of the party and there's no denying that he has played the most important role, even greater than Vajpayee, to transform the BJP into what it is today.

Advani is currently the chairman of the NDA. He will surely continue to hold that post but the party is said to be mulling a larger advisory role for him on the lines of the National Advisory Council (NAC) chaired by Sonia Gandhi.

Advani deserves respect and it would bode well that party's new bosses ensure that.

It's said Modi neither forgives nor forgets...if ever there was a chance to change, the time is now. He would be in Delhi. He would be Prime Minister.


First Published: Thursday, May 15, 2014, 10:43
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