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Year of disillusionment for BJP

IN THE history of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Indore, the year 2005 will be known for the general disillusionment among the party workers including the party MLAs and second rung local leaders as their expectations of an obliging government and a responsive organisation were dashed by a series of actions of the party?s top brass.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2006 14:27 IST

IN THE history of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Indore, the year 2005 will be known for the general disillusionment among the party workers including the party MLAs and second rung local leaders as their expectations of an obliging government and a responsive organisation were dashed by a series of actions of the party’s top brass.

‘While a few are enjoying power, the majority, whose relentless efforts brought the party to power after 10 long years, are being overlooked and left to play second fiddle to some’, the grouse of a senior local leader summed up the general mood in the party.

Besides, during the year, the party’s image as a disciplined outfit had taken a severe beating by a string of actions by the saffron offshoots like Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Though there were several such incidents, which made the party’s image in poor light, one major incident that stood out was the rampaging of Indore airport during the Bharat Bandh called by VHP on July 6, which hit the front pages of the national media.

Another major event that almost shook the party was the revelation of the now infamous Pension Scam, which at one time threatened to finish the political career of party heavyweight and State PWD Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya and his man Friday, City party president Ramesh Mendola. That he eventually managed to sail safely against the Pension Scam storm so far is a different political story altogether.

The year also saw further polarization in the internal party feuds between the two warring leaders in the party, Kailash Vijayvargiya and former Union minister Sumitra Mahajan. This time the fight was over the issue of support to Uma Bharti in her bid to capture power in Bhopal.

That the once blue-eyed boy of the sanyasin-turned politician was no novice to political manoeuvering was well established when Vijayvargiya successfully campaigned for Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the post of Chief Minister.

However, on the other hand, after keeping mum on the issue in the initial phase of Uma Bharti’s campaign for power, Mahajan openly came out in support of Bharti later on, in the hope that the party might see in her a compromise candidate. What happened to Bharti is history now, but Mahajan’s open support to Bharti might prove to be a costly stroke for the former six-time party MP in future.

The reasons for the general disillusionment in the party are not hard to find. After a series of convincing victories in the Assembly, local bodies and Lok Sabha elections, the second rung leaders, whose hard work made the victories possible, were itching to get their share of flesh from the party.

Moreover, the party bigwigs showed all signs of administrative and political inexperience.

Though there were several posts vacant, both in organisation and government, the top leaders chose to keep these aspiring ‘chota netas’ on tenterhooks spreading discontentment among the local leaders and their thousands of followers. The vacancies in local development bodies like Indore Development Authority, Housing Board etc are still vacant.

The general disillusionment in the party started with the formation of the much-awaited working committee of the party, which was stacked with the supporters of Vijayvargiya. Though there are several deserving candidates, the party president chose to leave some posts like general secretary and secretary vacant.

Apart from that, the party is yet to announce office-bearers for several of its frontal organisations including the important post of president of party’s youth wing Yuva Morcha.

There is a general feeling in the party, especially among the supporters of Vijayvargiya’s bete noire in the party and former Union minister Sumitra Mahajan, that the party is run by a team of workers from Indore-2 constituency, represented by Vijayvargiya.

It is not that only the ordinary workers and second rung leaders of the party were feeling offended by the working style of the party top leaders. Even the party MLAs were also getting impatient as they were not getting the much needed ‘cooperation’ from the officials.

The extent of party MLAs’ ire against the officials can be gauged from the fact that party MLA from Indore-5 constituency Mahendra Hardia had an open tiff with the RTO G M Pathak over some issues. He just stopped short of beating up the RTO.

The year also saw the party tightening its grip over its leaders including the fence- sitting MLAs to keep its flocks together in the backdrop of the challenge thrown by its firebrand leader Uma Bharti, thanks to the organizational skills of party’s organisation secretary Arvind Menon.

That Menon could even break the hard nut like Prakash Sonkar to bring him back to the party lap is no mean achievement. At one time in the beginning of Uma Bharti’s upheaval, Sonkar was seen announcing his full support to Bharti. Though

Uma Bharti camp had claimed that the a majority of the total 29 MLAs in the Indore Division were with Bharti, it turned out to be a false calculation as nobody, except one or two, dared to come out in the open in support of Bharti’s cause.

Though the MLAs were apparently not happy with the organisation’s style of functioning, they were ‘lured’ back to the party, thanks to the efforts of Menon and Vijayvargiya.

First Published: Jan 01, 2006 14:27 IST