BJP resurgent, onions more so

| Updated on November 16, 2017

RPT...Guwahati: BJP President Nitin Gadkari (2nd L), senior party leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley (R) and JD(U) President Sharad Yadav (2nd R) during the NDA rally against corruption, at Khanapara in Guwhati on Sunday. PTI Photo (PTI1_9_2011_000130B)   -  PTI

The BJP has decided to cash in on the plethora of scandals that have tumbled out of the UPA fold. But what pinches the people the most are the staggering prices of essential commodities.

It is a resurgent BJP and the National Democratic Alliance that it leads, that has crept back into the reckoning in electoral politics.

An aggressive mood and optimism that the BJP-led NDA's vanavas from Central politics is coming to an end were the forerunners of the party's two-day national executive meet held in Guwahati last week. Quickly forgotten at the idea of return to power were infighting and petty bickerings and the party leaders spoke in one voice against the scam-tainted UPA Government.

While the steep hike in the prices of essential commodities is oppressing the aam admi as well as the chattering classes, who are also talking about onions having breached the Rs 100 a kg mark, the BJP has decided to cash in on the plethora of scandals that have tumbled out of the UPA fold and go for its jugular.

But when it comes to that, the battle zeroes in on the First Family of the Congress — the Gandhis. So, at the BJP executive meet, no attempt was made to keep this under wraps. In the political resolution passed at this meet, the 1988 resolution of the BJP executive, passed in Ernakulam, which berated Rajiv Gandhi for his alleged involvement in the Bofors case, was revisited.

It was recalled how Rajiv Gandhi who began his career as ‘Mr Clean' later became ‘Mr Disaster'. In 2010, said the resolution, the present prime minister is giving us “a scandal a day”.

Targeting the Gandhis

But, clearly, it is only for form's sake that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, whose image and integrity are widely hailed, is attacked, or even mentioned, by the BJP.

For the party, the principal rival or the arch enemies are the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and her son, Mr Rahul Gandhi. For it is not Dr Singh, who can form alliances, or even more important, garner votes in an election.

The one responsible for ousting the NDA from power in 2004 was Ms Gandhi — the alliances she formed, the political calculations she made, and the huge Congress ego that she put on the sidelines as she wooed allies such as Bihar's Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, Tamil Nadu's DMK, and the like, were responsible for the NDA's surprising loss.

If in 2004 Ms Gandhi's magic worked, by 2009, the young Mr Rahul Gandhi was ready to take on electoral responsibility in Uttar Pradesh. During the last phase, as intelligence reports predicted a touch-and-go situation, at the insistence of senior Congress leaders, Ms Priyanka Gandhi was brought in to tour the constituencies of her mother and brother — Rai Bareilly and Amethi.

The Indira Gandhi magic and charisma she has inherited much more than her brother, the wide ranging interviews she gave where she came through as direct and sincere, the personal and trite attacks launched on her by senior BJP leaders such as Mr Narendra Modi, all helped the Congress make the final leap towards formation of the UPA-II.

Mr Rahul Gandhi's bold decision to go it alone in Uttar Pradesh, spurning the two bits thrown by the Samajwadi Party chief, Mr Mulayam Singh, the Congress' way with a few paltry seats, and coming up trumps with an unbelievable 21 Lok Sabha seats from UP for the Congress kitty, helped a lot in that formation, where a sulking but subdued Mr Mulayam Singh was forced to fall in line.

Last time around, in the 2009 elections, Mr Advani launched personal attacks against Dr Singh. But this time around, it will be the Gandhi family which will be the primary target. Of course, the BJP will make use of every opportunity to attack the Prime Minister here, or the Congress General Secretary, Mr Digvijay Singh there, or any other senior Congress leader elsewhere. But the quintessential target will undoubtedly be the Gandhis.

And if that requires the resurrection of the Bofors ghost, Ms Sonia Gandhi's Italian origin, Mr Rahul Gandhi's total failure to make any inroads in Bihar, and persistent and relentless demand for a JPC to probe the 2G spectrum scam in the hope the trail will lead right to the top, it will all be done.

Coalition mantra

In recent times, the BJP has also learnt the importance of alliance politics; the landslide victory of the JD(U)-BJP combine in Bihar has proved once again that the days of single-party rule in Indian politics — even at the State level — are coming to an end.

In Orissa, the BJD's Navin Patnaik was allowed to give the NDA the right royal slip on the eve of the 2009 elections. His thumping victory in Orissa has taught the BJP yet another lesson on the dangers of allowing allies to leave the NDA fold. So, now, the BJP's national meets try to include NDA leaders.

This time, coinciding with the party's national executive meet in Guwahati, was an NDA rally attended by allies such as the JD(U), Akali Dal, etc. It was announced that the NDA would haul the UPA regime over the coals on the corruption issue, and a series of programmes were announced to keep the heat on.

That the BJP is fast learning the coalition mantra and is striving to enlarge the NDA, perhaps by wooing back parties such as the BJD and Chandrababu Naidu's TDP, could be seen by the tone and tenor at the BJP executive meet and the subsequent NDA rally.

Mr Narendra Modi who was present at the meet on Saturday was conspicuously missing from the NDA rally on Sunday. So was the case with the party's latest poster boy vis-à-vis Hindutva politics, Mr Varun Gandhi. Apart from being a national secretary, he is also in charge of BJP's Assam affairs.

At the meet, the party did not come hammering down on the Centre for leaking the confession of Swami Aseemananda on the involvement of Hindutva elements in the Ajmer, Mecca Masjid and Malegaon blasts.

The coinage of “Hindu terror” was merely criticised in passing. All this makes it clear that the BJP is willing to trade its hardcore Hindutva ideology for a larger coalition and more inclusive politics.

But much more than corruption or a particular ideology, what pinches the people of India the most are the staggering prices of essential commodities. Remember how 12 years ago, the humble onion, which was selling at Rs 50 a kg in cities such as Delhi, brought down the BJP government?

The Opposition would do well to concentrate on this aspect and the UPA, and the Congress' top leadership would do well to remember how the onions once made the BJP cry.

Published on January 21, 2011

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