The BJP, which was in tatters barely a few months ago, appears to be staging a turnaround. The latest shot in the arm for the party is the prospect that fiery sanyasin Uma Bharti, who had left it to form her Jan Shakti, may return to the fold. Even her arch adversary Narendra Modi has been forced to say he welcomes the move. Ms Bharti, it may be recalled, had urged veteran BJP leader Keshubhai Patel to take on Mr Modi, whom she described as a pseudo-Hindu, in Gujarat. Mr Modi’s climbdown is prompted by the fact that the party is losing its grip on its earlier strongholds like Saurashtra and Kutch, a worrying sign with elections coming up. BJP rebels in Gujarat had been in touch with Ms Bharti, considered a charismatic vote-catcher. Apart from Mr Modi, there is no one in the party any longer who can bring in the crowds.
Ms Bharti has a relatively clean track record and is perceived to be a leader who sticks to her word. Mr Modi, on the other hand, is yet to live down the Gujarat carnage. Perhaps more importantly, he has to reckon with the infighting in the party. By sheer luck, the Karnataka imbroglio has generated sympathy for the BJP. The blatant betrayal of JD(S) has painted the BJP as the victim. This could mean that if it can cash in on this, it could increase its vote-share in the south. The BJP has also been able to forge alliances in states, often as the junior partner. This pragmatism will stand it in good stead in the months ahead, given that its main rival, the Congress, is still nurturing hopes of going it alone.
In recent times, there appears to have been something of a reconciliation between the VHP, the RSS and the BJP which have, in the past, often been at loggerheads with each other. There is also a realisation that the BJP can no longer rely on the charisma of A.B. Vajpayee to pull its coals out of the fire. So now really is the time for all good men, and in this case, a woman, to come to the aid of the party.