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Sangh mutiny against Modi, Shah if BJP fails to win UP

By Aditi Phadnis
January 21, 2017 10:24 IST

'The disquiet in the Sangh is, of course, over demonetisation.'
'But more than that, it is about the growing centralisation in the running of the government and party,' says Aditi Phadnis.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on the campaign trail.

There's no two ways about it. Narendra Modi has to win Uttar Pradesh.

If the Bharatiya Janata Party cannot form a government, it must at least emerge as the single-largest party.

It has to. It must.

Because if it doesn't, the knives will be out in the Sangh Parivar for two people: The party president and the prime minister. And the preparations have already begun.

But first, the best case scenario. The thinking in the BJP is: For the first time, the party has managed to transcend caste and religion in UP by the demonetisation move.

It is now just class. That the poor have been inconvenienced is undeniable. But they are completely under Narendra Modi's spell and believe that he is going after the wealthy and the entitled with a vigour never seen before.

A BJP leader said with enthusiasm and considerable delight: "Gareeb ko lagta hai, hamari ek aankh phooti lekin Modi ney amir ki dono phod dee (the poor are telling us, we've lost only one eye. But by demonetisation Modi has blinded the rich in both eyes)."

True, Mayawati has the support of the Dalits (which the BJP doesn't) and there is sympathy for Akhilesh Yadav because of family travails (which the BJP doesn't). But it is the BJP which has the advantage because the Muslim vote is split between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Modi's persona is larger than life and represents the suraksha kavach (safety armour) that is preventing BJP leaders from being blamed for demonetisation.

"People were frustrated because they did not have access to cash. But have you heard of a single BJP MLA or leader, who was beaten up? People are excusing Modi and by extension, those who represent the kamal ka phool (lotus)," BJP leaders offer by way of evidence.

They say that the 2017-2018 Union Budget will see some income tax sops, which will square the circle of the class war Modi has launched.

But what if the party is wrong?

What if it is just a mute spectator as someone else is called by the governor to take oath after March 11?

What happens then?

All indications are that not only does the Sangh Parivar expect that, but it is also waiting for it to happen and is preparing to say, 'I told you so.'

First, consider the attacks on the government and the quarters they are coming from.

Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram? Well, that's to be expected. But the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, which bitterly criticised the NITI Aayog last week? (Why the NITI Aayog, which is, relatively speaking, blameless in the current circumstances?)

And what about the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which has warned that if the government tries to disinvest the Janpath Hotel, it will launch a dharna outside the residence of the minister of state for finance, Arjun Ram Meghwal, every day -- because he lives right next to Janpath Hotel?

The Bharatiya Krishak Samaj (BKS, the national-level apex body of farmers) and the BJP Kisan Morcha continue to vigorously oppose genetically modified (transgenic) crops and are lobbying state governments to back its stand.

Madhya Pradesh has already taken steps in this direction. Environment Minister Anil Dave has said he is technology agnostic when it comes to the origin of seeds and has promised the government will protect farmers.

He is only echoing Prakash Javadekar before him. That is not what the BKS and Kisan Morcha expect from a government they feel they helped put in power.

If the BJP manages to form the government in UP or emerges as the single largest party, then all these organisations will have to slink back into the shadows.

But if the BJP is not number one, then the Sangh will be within its rights to say this cannot continue.

This will have ramifications not just for those who are leading the party, but also in the choice of the next President of India.

A discussion about where rebellion should/could be prompted (from within the council of ministers) is already on.

The last meeting between the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Modi took place in October. Most expected a chief minister for UP to be named after Vijayadashami. That didn't happen.

Now the most important leaders in the Sangh -- Bhaiyyaji Joshi, Krishna Gopal and Dattatreya Hosabale -- are expecting a meeting with Modi.

The disquiet in the Sangh is, of course, over demonetisation. But more than that, it is about the growing and inexorable centralisation in the running of the government and party.

The repeated refrain is no consultation, no respect for the organisation.

As a second-term party president, Amit Shah, is bound by the BJP constitution to ensure that at least 25 per cent of the party's critical core -- office-bearers and the executive -- is new.

That hasn't happened. There is no new team. There is no new executive.

Worse, there appears to be no communication with the Sangh.

That's how it stands. A soothsayer told Julius Caesar: 'Beware the Ides of March.' Caesar was dismissive: 'He is a dreamer. Let us leave him.'

Shakespeare is worth revisiting.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on the campaign trail.

Aditi Phadnis
Source: source
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