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Why BJP may want to lose Delhi

The party’s top brass is aware that even if it wins, the state will remain a headache due to intra-party bickerings and because of impatient voters

Image Credit: Bloomberg
Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, gestures as he makes a speech during a luncheon with Japanese business groups at the headquarters of the business lobby Keidanren in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Modi is in Japan to boost ties between Asia's second and third-biggest economies, both of which are embroiled in territorial disputes with an increasingly assertive China. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Narendra Modi
Gulf News

There are enough signs to indicate what you see in Delhi may not be true at all. There is something going on behind closed doors and is not known outside a tiny group in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Notice the developments: BJP inducts three rejects of India Against Corruption movement and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) into its fold — Kiran Bedi, Shazia Ilmi and Vinod Kumar Binni. While the last two are of little consequence, Bedi is being projected as BJP’s chief ministerial candidate. In a single stroke, BJP has managed to divert the attention from party mascot Narendra Modi to Bedi as far as Delhi polls are concerned. So if BJP loses or fails to get a majority, you have a convenient scapegoat.

On the other hand, media has reported an implosion of sorts in the BJP rank and file. That BJP’s Delhi unit is not a disciplined and united force is known to all. Evidence for AAP’s expose on Satish Upadhyay’s dubious businesses came from a BJP leader. How? Moreover, while AAP and Congress have declared their candidates for the February 7 polls, BJP is yet to decide on the names. Even the sitting MLAs are unsure of tickets. Why this delay? Why? This week, BJP president Amit Shah’s rally was cancelled because the party could not obtain police clearance on time!

BJP is a very well-organised outfit with sympathisers in every layer of government, judiciary, media, commerce and industry. It is unlikely all this is happening due to poor management. Then is all this ‘bad management’ part of a deliberate plan to lose Delhi? Or to let Arvind Kejriwal win? But what will BJP gain from losing Delhi? A lot actually. If Kejriwal wins Delhi, it will be projected as a victory of a mass movement, media will eulogise Kejriwal, hail him as a hero and will dissect AAP’s campaign for days. Prime time on television will be reserved for one man only — Kejriwal. More importantly, Kejriwal’s victory will divert attention of the people who are getting restless from Modi’s inability to deliver on his election promises.

Once a government led by Kejriwal is sworn in, the focus of national media and by extension national discourse will shift to his government and ministers. Kejriwal will have no honeymoon period, both media and voters will demand immediate results, at least on corruption, power tariffs, VAT (value added tax), health hotline and WiFi. A hostile government at the Centre will not help him either. This spotlight on Kejriwal will come as a huge relief for Modi. It will shift the focus from his government at the Centre. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is planning a radical budget and several unpleasant decisions are expected this March. The media spotlight on Kejriwal government will allow Jaitley to quietly to push through unpopular reforms — disinvestment of PSUs (public sector undertakings), budget cuts in health, education — in his attempt to cut budget deficit.

Secondly, away from media spotlight, the right-wing Sangh Parivar machinery can then unleash its foot soldiers to polarise voters with low-intensity disturbances ahead of the two big battles — Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar. These two states are absolutely essential for BJP’s growth. Victory in Bihar and UP will complete the Parivar’s dominance in the cow belt. Moreover, UP and Bihar will shore up BJP’s strength in Rajya Sabha, an absolute necessity for pushing far more radical and unpopular reforms. Last but not the least, these two states will make Modi, Shah and Jaitley the most powerful political coterie in the history of democratic India.

BJP’s top brass is aware that even if the party wins Delhi, the state will remain a headache — partly due to intra-party bickerings and partly because of impatient voters who expect immediate results and good governance, something the BJP is unsure of delivering. BJP has controlled the city-state’s civic bodies for years but has failed miserably. Losing Delhi won’t be such a bad idea!

Bobby Naqvi is the Editor of XPRESS, a sister paper of Gulf News.

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