Bigger role for Modi will shatter NDA

After assembly elections fiasco, the RSS is groping in the dark searching for a face that can rejuvenate the BJP before the mega political event in 2014. The RSS gameplan to strengthen the BJP in order to push its agenda has failed because a religious and divisive agenda does not win over people’s loyalties anymore. RSS praise for Modi, who failed to follow the rajdharma in Gujarat during 2002 riots contradicting Atal Behari Bajapyee, the tallest leader in the BJP, is an indication of the dangers for the polity ahead.

RSS in its mouthpiece Organiser has lauded Narendra Modi for carrying out his rajdharma during the 2002 Gujarat riots after the magisterial court announced that SIT did not find any prosecutable evidence against him. In Panchajanya, RSS has mentioned that the people of the country were waiting for a national role for Modi, beyond Gujarat.

But what is equally important is that on moral grounds Narendra Modi cannot give himself a clean chit for all that happened covertly and overtly during the Gujarat riots. The RSS statement, under this context is dangerous and may further encourage people like Modi to play the same again to polarise the electorate. In the recent Hyderabad riots, a preliminary inquiry by the police concludes that the clashes were deliberately instigated by some right-wing political elements. Mail Today’s report on 19 April says that at the outset, these incidents appeared to be isolated ones. But a close study of their pattern indicates that they might have been instigated with a political motive.    

Talk of a bigger role of Modi has come out with the regional grouping against the NCTC. The conclusion that the BJP or the RSS has drawn is that such grouping may consolidate the NDA. That it is a grievous miscalculation is a forgone conclusion. The purpose of that grouping is to weaken the existing national parties in order to consolidate the regional groupings.

A bigger role for Modi will not only disintegrate the NDA but may also help the regional players to regroup in order to provide an alternative to Congress and the BJP by projecting themselves to be more secular and democratic. The parties currently in the NDA loop can switch sides to the Congress. Even in that circumstance, the question of stability will be raised and in that scenario the bigger party with a more credible secular credential would lead the way. RSS and BJP after having assessed the grey areas in their performance in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, want to address the leadership issue because, among other factors, confusion about the leader and projection of too many leaders for the chief ministerial candidate harmed the party, as voters and cadres were left confused. But the big question is: would it be easy for the party to decide the prime ministerial candidate under the given situation and intense political rivalry at the top.   

Even though the RSS has spoken in favour of a bigger role for Modi, his political equation with BJP’s rank and file has not been smooth and convincing. Modi and LK Advani were until yesterday not on good terms. Modi’s chemistry with the party president has gone from bad to worse and in such environment of political rivalry and bickering, choosing an acceptable prime ministerial candidate for the BJP may not be easy.

Gadkari, in an interview, admitted that he and Narendra Modi had not spoken to each other for the past six months. The political connotation of this confession goes deep. Modi’s Sadbhawana in Gujarat is no less than an effort from his side to make him more acceptable in national politics. He is also reaching out to other regional players to feel their mood and at the same time to put pressure on the BJP by projecting himself in the regional group. But inspite of all this posturing and image makeover exercise, can he really get rid of the riots taint which haunts him perpetually?

Before deciding the prime ministerial candidate, the litmus test for the BJP and RSS would be to arrive at a consensus for a second term for the party president Nitin Gadkari.The more the RSS will press for a second term for Gadkari the greater will be the infighting and chaos in the BJP. Recently, senior leaders from the BJP and RSS met in the national capital after the assembly polls to assess the performance of the party president and at the same time to know the viewpoint of the BJP as to how far they can go to support Gadkari for a second term if the RSS chooses to do so.     

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2012 on page no. 6

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