Not long ago, when some of his own party colleagues were questioning Home Minister P Chidambaram's Naxal policy in the wake of the Dantewada massacre, it was the BJP that stood behind him. But now the same party is up in arms against him.
There are reasons for that. First, the BJP claims that Chidambaram unilaterally allowed NSCN(IM) leader Thuingaleng Muivah to visit Manipur, thus creating a crisis.
Second, his unilateral announcement on Telangana — followed by a rethink — led to trouble in Andhra Pradesh.
"He (Chidambaram) is an expert in creating problems and converting peace into crisis," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar on Friday.
In recent months, however, the BJP had supported Chidambaram and tacitly approved his policy against Maoists. Even the RSS had last year hailed his approach to the Naxal problem. When he had offered to step down as home minister, it was the BJP that urged him to stay.
How was this bonhomie lost?
On Friday, BJP leaders Tarun Vijay and Nirmala Sitharaman, along with Javdekar, met the home minister, with the message that the shortage of essential commodities in Manipur owing to the blockade of National Highway 39 by the Naga Students Association called for an effective central intervention.
They also wanted the government to cancel the permission given to Muivah. "An issue that was not even in the air was created by the home ministry by giving unilateral permission to Muivah to visit Manipur," said Javdekar. "His unilateralism has created highway blockade there for a month now."
On the BJP’s change of approach towards Chidambaram, he said: "We appreciate it if the minister does good work, but we reserve our right to criticise him if he does not perform."
However, government officials said the home ministry had earlier indicated it did not have an issue with Muivah’s visit.
"Home Secretary GK Pillai and RS Pandey, who met all leaders and government officials concerned, during their visit to Manipur and Nagaland, made it clear to Muivah that under the constitutional framework, the state government had the last word on law and order issues," an official said.
Sources in the security establishment said there was little the Centre can do to resolve the problem except wait for one of the parties to blink. "We are going to airlift light essential commodities such as medicines if required," one of them said.