The Karnataka crisis has seen Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh emerge as BJP’s new troubleshooters.
Also, they are beginning to work in pair or in tandem with party chief Nitin Gadkari, who has had more than his quota of bushfires to quell, say insiders.
Last week saw Jaitley and Singh spend three days together in Bangalore talking to 118 MLAs individually to resolve the deadlock on who should succeed BS Yeddyurappa.On Wednesday, the two leaders decided to hold a secret ballot to determine the MLAs’ preference after their efforts to push for a compromise formula faced hurdles. Finally, they declared BSY’s nominee DV Sadanand Gowda the new chief minister.
Gadkari had asked the two to handle the Karnataka crisis as they enjoy authority over many MLAs. Singh shares a rapport with BSY; Jaitley, as chief strategist in the 2008 polls, had played a key role in election management.
Interestingly, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj decided to steer clear of the mess. A few days ago, she publicly disowned any link with the Reddy brothers who were blamed for BSY’s previous troubles.
BJP insiders view the latest developments significantly in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
A year ago or earlier, it was unthinkable that Jaitley and Singh would be on a fire-fighting mission together, say leaders. They were seen as rivals after a bitter episode in the run-up to the 2009 general elections.
With assembly polls due in Uttar Pradesh early next year, Singh and Jaitley have not only buried their misgivings, but have decided to work together. Both reportedly met over lunch at least twice and decided to “synergise” their efforts. In fact, as BJP sources said, it was Jaitley who backed the idea of projecting Singh as the party’s important face in UP, along with Brahmin leader Kalpnath Mishra and OBC leaders Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar.
In 2009, Jaitley had handled the parliamentary election campaign as chief strategist and Singh was BJP chief. Both were mandated with the task of successfully projecting LK Advani as the PM candidate but they fell out on the issue of assigning election work for businessman Sudhanshu Mittal, which saw an upset Jaitley even stay away from the central election committee for a few days.
But the episode spilled over to the turmoil in the BJP after it lost the elections. Singh’s term as president drew to a close in December 2009. The RSS asked Nitin Gadkari to take charge of the party for a revamp.
Advani chose Jaitley as Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Sushma Swaraj as Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. Singh, perhaps, felt he did not get his due despite stewarding the party through troubled times.