The BJP seems to be caught in a political version of a bad hair day that just refuses to go away. Barely does the party paper over one crack does another appear at another place. The latest fissure has been the departure of party stalwart and former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh who has made it public that he feels slighted by the party high command.
To make matters worse for the BJP, which has been hoping to regain its fortunes in the politically crucial state, Kalyan Singh seems to be getting a little too close for comfort with rival Samjwadi Party. The Kalyan Singh issue has erupted on the heels of another kerfuffle over former vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat refusing to endorse L.K. Advani as the party’s prime ministerial candidate and expressing his desire to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. In between, there were rumblings when leading industrialists vested confidence in Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the future prime minister. Now in true democratic style, there are bound to be dissensions in any party. But the BJP has always projected itself as a disciplined and cohesive party. The three developments cited show that this is clearly not so and also that the high command is not able to manage these contradictions in a manner that will not damage the party’s image. The other problem that the party seems to be afflicted from is an alarming inability to read the public mood. The party failed totally to see the writing on the wall in the Delhi elections and was done in by factional infighting.
Ironically, the BJP is firmly entrenched in the states it runs. It has successfully put together politically productive alliances in the past. But what it seems to lack in recent times is a coherent agenda and fresh ideas. In the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, it failed to play a constructive role beyond trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to put the government on the mat. Its younger leaders are still in the background and the old guard does not seem to be able to pull together. It will now have to put up a united front and come up with a viable poll plank
if these fissures are not to become fault lines.