New Delhi: Senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had several rounds of meetings with the top leadership of its parent organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the Indian capital on Thursday.
The meeting took place a day before the results of the just-concluded general elections could be declared. Exit polls have predicted BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s return to power a decade after it lost to the rival Congress party.
Top RSS leaders are campaigning in New Delhi to ensure the ambitions of its leaders and newly elected lawmakers are kept in control and there are no voices of dissent from those who cannot be accommodated in the government.
Besides the critical issue of deciding on the roles of leaders like Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, the RSS does not want the BJP to commit the mistake of 1999 when its entire top leadership joined the government reflecting in BJP’s unexpected defeat at the hands of the Congress party in 2004 general elections.
The RSS then was helpless as the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not let them interfere much in the party or in government decisions.
With Vajpayee ailing and retired, the RSS had been preparing for the 2014 general elections ever since it asked Advani to quit as the leader of the opposition after he failed to lead the BJP to power as its prime ministerial candidate.
It has since been asserting its authority. It first handpicked Nitin Gadkari and then Rajnath Singh as the BJP president and deflected all opposition to its choice of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
BJP’s dilemma is obvious. If its office bearers who have administrative experience move on to the government then the party will get weakened; if they continue in the organisation then the new government may struggle and fail to deliver with novices holding ministerial positions.
“It is highly unlikely that both Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari will join the government. One of them will head the party,” said a central office bearer of the party.
The formation of a new government will be followed by a reshuffle in the party as some of its office bearers are bound to become ministers. The BJP cannot afford a mass exodus of its office bearers as the crucial round of assembly elections in states are to follow soon.
While Maharashtra and Haryana are due to elect their new state assemblies later this year, fresh polls may be witnessed in Delhi, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand too.
There is speculation that the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar may also fall. Doing well and winning these states are crucial for BJP’s expansion and Modi’s vow to make India Congress-free.
Rajnath Singh, Gadkari and Arun Jaitley on Wednesday flew down to Gujarat to meet Modi, who is expected to reach New Delhi on Saturday to attend the parliamentary board meeting, which besides discussing the post-poll scenario is also expected to name Modi’s replacement as Gujarat chief minister.
While Modi has plans to visit his parliamentary constituency Varanasi to offer Ganga aarti (prayers at the holy river) on Saturday evening, it is not certain if the newly elected lawmakers of the BJP will meet on Saturday or Sunday to formally elect Modi as their leader.