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It's checkmate Gadkari now

The BJP chief’s strategy will confuse the electorate ahead of major state polls, HT writes.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2012 01:38 IST
Hindustan Times
LK Advani,Nitin Gadkari,Narendra Modi

If this is the BJP's version of a samudra manthan, then it has only muddied the waters more than clarify matters. Party president Nitin Gadkari seems to have formulated an inexplicable gameplan to further the party's interests. He grandly proclaimed at first that unlike the Congress which is not democratic, the BJP would not project any one person as a prime ministerial candidate. Rather it would chose the best of the crop after the elections. Now, post-surgery, Mr Gadkari appears to have had a change of heart. He has publicly articulated that he thinks that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi could be a good potential candidate. And in the backdrop comes the familiar song from former president LK Advani that he has not withdrawn from the fray. All this comes at a time when the government is on the ropes on various counts.

Now would have been the time for the BJP to move in for the kill. But instead its actions will only serve to confuse the electorate as major state elections loom. Worse still, endorsing Mr Modi as a prime ministerial candidate will alienate many among the BJP's allies, notably Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. So if Mr Gadkari had a reason for this sudden expression of support for Mr Modi, perhaps he should let people know about it. Mr Advani's penchant to pop up every now and again and suggest that he might still be willing to accept the onerous task of prime ministership should have been firmly curbed by Mr Gadkari who at one time spoke quite clearly about how an old order had passed. Mr Gadkari is meant to be a practical man, not given to great oratory or flashiness. Now it would seem that he is not given to much political acumen either. The general elections are far away. Even the dynastically-inclined Congress has refrained from endorsing any individual as a potential prime minister. So Mr Gadkari has really rushed in where wiser men fear to tread.

Another politically risky undertaking courtesy Mr Gadkari has been to export the one-time fiery sanyasin Uma Bharti into UP to galvanise the party. But she seems to be spending all her time defending her deployment and explaining her fractious relations with the party leadership. She has been hard put to answer whether she intends to stay on in UP or whether she will go back to MP once the elections are over. If this was a game of political chess, it would have been checkmate Gadkari long ago. The principal opposition party has to behave like one and present a unified front when facing crucial elections. If despite this the BJP does well, the Gadkari strategy could become a document for political study in the future.

First Published: Jan 23, 2012 23:12 IST