Only the cold-hearted will not feel for the BJP these days. With the party’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani doing his best to deny the spat being played out in public between BJP president Rajnath Singh and general secretary Arun Jaitley, it would seem that the ‘party with a difference’ is now suffering with too many internal differences. This bickering is not new. But what is new is the overt manner in which it is actually being displayed before the April polls.
One would have thought that if there was any time to present a united front — even if for cosmetic purposes — it would have been now. But Mr Jaitley has been in a huff, ostensibly for the inclusion of the controversial ‘Man with the Moneybags’ Sudhanshu Mittal, in Team BJP. But politics is the art of making hay even when the sun doesn’t shine. So while a faction of the BJP may find it (suddenly?) difficult to swallow what it perceives to be a bad apple among its ranks, it is also a way in which it can create some distance between the party as it is now (in total disarray) and what it sees itself being in the future (a rising force to pick up the challenge in 2014). So, in a way, Rajnath Singh as well as Mr Advani may well represent the stage in this projected trajectory that needs to be jettisoned before the BJP reaches for the proverbial stars again. And what better catalyst for this cleansing process than an electoral rout goaded by infighting? That Narendra Modi has long-term prime ministerial aspirations is no secret. It isn’t that he and his supporters within the party — Mr Jaitley being one of them — find leapfrogging over the current crop of top BJP leaders repugnant. It’s just that doing that now would be contaminating themselves with a losing touch. For this faction of the BJP, not being associated with Mr Singh et al is a canny decision.
If any proof of this pudding was needed, it’s there in the form of support for Mr Advani’s prime ministership from the likes of Uma Bharti and other disgruntled veterans whose expiry date looms. With the current top BJP leadership playing Neelkanth — consumer of all poisons — without realising it, a second rung leadership waits for a clean slate. And that can happen only if the BJP implodes during this election.