Ten days before India conducted surgical strikes on terror camps across the border, defence minister Manohar Parrikar briefed fellow BJP leaders about the options before the country. They were told that terror camps were relocated from along the LoC to about 20-25km deep inside the PoK two years ago. But “launchpads” for these infiltrators still existed and India wouldn’t hesitate to strike at them, the defence minister told the leaders of the ruling party.
Subsequently, as pressures from cadres and supporters to avenge the Uri terror attack mounted on the party and the government, the two worked in complete tandem. Last Sunday at a BJP national council meeting in Kerala, party chief Amit Shah read out a statement on the September 18 ambush—and declared that there was no need for discussion on the matter.
This is the latest instance of how the ruling party has followed the NDA government’s script. The coordination between the two that could be attributed to a Modi-Shah synergy is in sharp contrast to the frequent divergence between the Congress and then Manmohan Singh government on policy issues. About a month ago, as kashmir remained on the boil, causing jitters and unease in the BJP, two senior ministers briefed party leaders, sharing the government’s plan of action.
Contrast it to the UPA days when those in the Congress would throw monkey wrench into the works of the then government. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi once publicly debunked an ordinance cleared by the union Cabinet. Then PM Manmohan Singh was upset, but had to relent. Early in the UPA days, when the government was looking to accelerate economic reforms process, the Congress stalled its move to allow FDI in the multi-brand retail sector. Ten years of the UPA government were marked by frequent interventions by the ruling party in policy matters.
Unlike Singh, Modi commands full authority. There are no dual power centres. Amit Shah owes his rise as the BJP president to Modi.
When it was in power, Congress’ organisational set-up was loaded with veterans, having a complete grip over the party and the government.
The BJP’s present team is a group of lightweight politicians who have attained the position they occupy now—for the first time. They don’t show any inclination or ambition to assert their stature and have a say. Party veterans such as LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who have the stature to assert themselves, have become margdarshaks, who themselves might need of some guiding lights to regain their relevance.
Modi has tactfully crated a synergy between the government and the party—something that was missing in the UPA era.
If the UPA days were about open feud on policy matters, the Modi era is about the ruling party blindly throwing its weight behind the government. From special package to Andhra Pradesh, to handling post-Wani crisis in Kashmir and, now, surgical strikes in Pakistan, the BJP and the government have spoken in once voice.