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How BJP’s master strategist lost the plot in Uttarakhand

A known baiter of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, this 59-year-old former ABVP activist earned the reputation of an “ace strategist” by guiding the BJP to power in Haryana one and a half years ago.

india Updated: May 12, 2016 09:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
BJP MP Kailash Vijayvargiya has stumbled for the first time after the Uttarakhand floor test result and the resumption of power by Harish Rawat in the state. (HT file photo)

He has many feathers in his cap.

Madhya Pradesh-based BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya has not lost any of the six assembly election he contested. The 59-year-old former ABVP activist earned the reputation of an “ace strategist” by guiding the BJP to power in Haryana one and a half years ago.

There was no stopping him since then. He drew closer to party chief Amit Shah, got rewarded with the national general secretary’s post and was given charge of West Bengal but now for the first time he has stumbled after the central government on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that the Harish Rawat-led Congress government has legislative majority in Uttarakhand and President’s Rule will be revoked from the hill state soon.

BJP leaders in Uttarakhadn now blame VIjayvargiya for the entire fiasco. “We could have dealt with Rawat in our own way. But, recent developments have muddied the waters. Rawat looks like a victim and BJP a villain. Vijayvargiya’s adventurism has made things more difficult for us in the next year’s assembly election,” a BJP MLA said.

Read more: Rawat got 33 votes, can take charge as Uttarakhand CM, says SC

Vijayvargiya always had his eyes set on Uttarakhand. When the party was preparing for elections in Bengal, Kailash Bhai – as he is fondly called in BJP circles – was hopping between Delhi and Dehradun to stage a coup in the hill state.

“He was in constant touch with Congress rebels and privy to every move that Amit Shah was taking in the hill state,” a BJP leader said. The “operation” in the works was a secret. So much so that even local veterans – including former CMs – were clueless about it.

How the day unfolded: 10 things to know about Uttarakhand floor test

One senior functionary in Uttarakhand realised that something “big” was in the offing when he received a call from Delhi on March 17 – a day before 9 Congress MLA rebelled against Harish Rawat in Assembly – to immediately rush to Dehradun and “wait for the next order”. Similar calls were made to others. A plane was stationed at Dehradun to fly out the rebel Congress and BJP MLAs if such a situation arises.

A party insider told HT that Congress rebels received a cold response from the BJP leadership about a year ago when they sought help to unseat Harish Rawat. But Vijayvargiya’s arrival changed the scene. The BJP turned warm to Rawat’s detractors.

Vijayvargiiya has been calling the shots in Uttarakhand over the last two months. Functionaries of the state BJP, former CM Bhagat Singh Koshyari, local stalwart Satpal Mahraj and others were following his script.

But he erred on two counts. First, his plans to cobble up numbers and form an alternative government after dismissal of Harish Rawat as chief minister did not work. The entire issue entered into a legal dispute and the court order for floor test turned out to be an embarrassment for the BJP.

Second, he remained confident, until the eve of the floor test on May 10, engineering a split in the Congress to defeat Rawat on the floor of the assembly. That did not work.

When Vijayvargiya flies out of Dehradun, the BJP local unit will not only be embarrassed but will also have to deal with the Congress rebels who are now knocking at the BJP’s door ahead of the next assembly election. That may not be good news for the factionalism-ridden state unit.

First Published: May 11, 2016 12:55 IST