Every party is touchy about any other party commenting on its internal matters. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) positively bristles every time anyone says anything negative about it.
Nitish Kumar seems to have forgotten that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander when he spoke at length to a television channel on the internal workings of the BJP after he parted company from the BJP-led NDA.
Now it is true that there is a vast disparity between Nitish Kumar’s secular philosophy and the BJP’s on and off espousal of Hindutva.
But perhaps the Bihar chief minister is being less than fair in accusing the BJP of projecting just one leader.
Most people tend to forget that for the moment, the Gujarat chief minister who is Mr Kumar’s bugbear has only been made campaign chief and that despite intense speculation, he has not been named as the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA.
In fact, Mr Kumar is on the same page as the restive BJP leader LK Advani who too is deeply resentful of Mr Modi’s rise in the party. Mr Kumar says that the BJP was aware of his apprehensions.
But nevertheless, the party has every right to choose a person it thinks fit to lead its campaign.
It does not need the consent of the allies for that just as the Congress does not need the permission of its allies before deciding who will lead the party’s election campaign.
Mr Kumar may be right in saying that Mr Modi’s development model is led by corporates but then again, that is the choice that the Gujarat government has made. As Mr Kumar rightly says, one model of development cannot be applied across India and indeed even other BJP-ruled states have not adopted the Gujarat model.
Every state has its own constraints, so even if any party wanted to do so, it could not impose a cookie cutter model on all the states.
There may be merit in the argument that the party should not project a leader who cannot expand the alliance, but then again, that call is often taken after the elections are over and the numbers roll in.
Mr Kumar’s harking back to the Vajpayee era can be criticised on the ground that the former prime minister was very much around when the party began its Hindutva campaign that led to the demolition of the Babri masjid. It is true that he had the qualities of a unifier, something Mr Modi seems to lack. But to say that Mr Advani is a changed man does Mr Kumar no credit.
Mr Advani has changed to suit the changing political scenario as any astute politician would do. But it cannot be forgotten that it was Mr Advani, who Mr Kumar says is no longer communal, who changed the course of Indian politics and introduced the Hindutva concept so forcefully onto the national stage.
To say, as Mr Kumar has done, that the BJP is all about one person is to do a disservice to the many other tall leaders in the party like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley to name a few. Mr Kumar has made his decision, and now the time has come for the JD(U) and the BJP to move on.