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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nobody in Charge at BJP

BJP's Rajnath Singh is shrinking the party. While we think there is merit to what BJP did to Jaswant Singh, the way it was done is having a blow back. Arun Shourie is challenging BJP to reform itself, quite publicly. BJP wants Sri Shourie to say whatever he wants to the party away from the media. But BJP has itself to blame for the thamasa. Sudheeran Kulkarni's leaving BJP is not such a big event in itself. He was probably at the door, right behind Sri Advani. He used the Jaswant's episode well to his advantage. What is bit more ominous is the resignation of Kiren Rijiju of Arunachal Pradesh. His action does not bode well for the party.

With Sri Rijiju leaving, that would be four active and thinking senior members of BJP leaving within a week. Rajnath Singh may be running the train, but it's Sri Advani who is apparently still in charge. Lot of this internal tussle would have probably happened anyway had Advaniji retired soon after election lose. Now, Advaniji is still the head but apparently not in-charge. He has to leave BJP for the party to remake itself. Atalji has already shown how to do it skillfully.

Transition of leadership is any institution messy business. The thing to note on the turmoil in BJP is its members are fighting back on the dictatorial tendency of its leadership. This happened in Congress I many times, most recently when Sonia Gandhi took charge when Sharad Pawar, P.A. Sagma, and Tariq Anwar quit. As a result of the transitional tussle, Congress I increased the dictatorial style of party governance, in line with its history. One hopes, contrary to what happened to Congress I, this period will allow BJP to become more democratic as an institution - that is the only way to bring new blood into leadership every election cycle, and that BJP will come out stronger the other side of this mess.