Chouhan, Vasundhara, Raman sidelined; Is end of Vajpayee- Advani era in sight?

Chouhan, Vasundhara, Raman sidelined; Is end of Vajpayee- Advani era in sight?
Chouhan, Vasundhara, Raman sidelined; Is end of Vajpayee- Advani era in sight?

The question befuddling the political pundits the most is why is Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi led BJP is not ready to register the established regional leaders particularly in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan which are in the midst of assembly elections.

Is there a strategy behind that other than quest for new crop of leadership? Is there a plan afoot to erase the last foot-prints of the Atal Behari Vajpayee- Lal Krishan Advani era?

This question takes one to an interesting corollary- What is common between Madhya Pradesh chief minister Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan, and former chief ministers of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Mr Raman Singh and Mrs Vasundhara Raje?

Yest age is a common denominator apart from the fact all of them have been successful multi-time chief ministers in their respective states. And that all of them- in their late 60s or early 70s- are still away from the 75-year threshold for being consigned to the now infamous dumping ground, the ‘Margdarshak Mandal’. Interestingly, the decade old so called advisory body led by Mr Modi himself is still to hold its maiden meeting.

So, then what is the logic behind sidelining these three leaders popular in their own rights? Are they being viewed as some kind of potential challengers to Mr Modi’s might ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

Again, the second question has a logic and makes sense given policy and strategy that Mr Modi and his close confidant Home Minister Mr Amit Shah have followed since 2014. The strategy is squarely based on a singular narrative haloed around Mr Modi. No body is permitted to figure in that photo frames which has virtually been witnessed on important occasions when even the party president Mr J P Nadda was nudged out of the focus of the shutterbugs.

Another common denominator among Mr Chouhan, Mrs Raje and Mr Raman Singh is that all of them have a strong connect with Vajpayee-Advani era. Fact of the matter is that this younger line of second-rung leadership was groomed and brought forward by these veterans, the victors of many an electoral- battles.

Is sidelining yet another attempt and a strong indicator by Modi-Shah combine to severe all links with the past era and cut the umbilical cord, responsible in many ways for the Ayodhya Ram temple seeing light of the day. And prior to that grooming Mr Modi to the Prime Minister’s chair?

Firstly, none of these three leaders currently are in a position to throw any challenge to Mr Modi’s established leadership. For that to happen any challenger will first have to have support within the organization which in the current scenario seems improbable. It will be difficult to hazard a guess in this context before the Lok Sabha election and after that much would depend on its outcome.

There could be a sense of insecurity at work as it is said the more a leader rises in politics the more insecure and lonely he or she feels. Glaring example in this context was that of indomitable Mrs Indira Gandhi. So why take any chances. It is like nipping in the bud the scheme of things. If such a challenge exists, it is nothing more than the state of mind. It does not actually exist on ground.

To think that the three leaders are being checkmated or sidelined for the sake of bringing in the new and younger faces, is much more fallacious. In all the three states where this process of sidelining has been vigorously pursued, the alternatives sought are in the same age group and not much to say in terms of their track-records. The argument would have held good if altogether younger and new faces been promoted as alternatives. But the design seemed to be different other than grooming and bringing forward fresh faces as was done by the Vajpayee-Advani duo.

This is also reflected in the current formation of the BJP as an organization in terms of leadership rungs. There is total domination of top leadership with no attempt to groom young leadership. Again, a step towards moving away from the Vajpayee-Advani era. And in-fact moving closer to the culture espoused vigorously by the Congress based on a single personality or family-based design.

The BJP in its current form can be explained as a well-oiled organisational machinery, always poll ready, headed by a predominant face. The space for grooming, painstakingly developed by Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani, new leadership has considerably shrunk.

The conclusion is that Prime Minister Mr Modi is in the process of divesting the BJP of the Vajpayee-Advani era mass leaders. Who can deny that the trio Mr Chouhan, Mrs Raje and Mr Raman Singh wield considerable influence in the states they are ruling or had ruled in the past.

This exercise can be construed as part of the wider strategy to create New India of Mr Modi’s dream without the imprints of the great Nehruvian era. A new Parliament has already come into existence designed in a manner to overshadow the old roundel and iconic structure called the Parliament House now in the process of being converted into a museum of sorts.

And, of course, a new BJP. Does that sound an end to political careers of the ilk of Mr Chouhan, Mrs Raje and Mr Raman Singh? The message has been conveyed loud and clear to them as even their assembly candidature was announced after dilly-dallying. For instance, Mr Chouhan’s name figured in the fifth list that too after he, sort of, started flexing his muscles.

There is no guarantee that any of them will be able to become chief minister in the event of BJP winning elections in these states. There should be no problem in the three retaining their respective seats but the follow-through thereafter is lined with uncertainties. Much will depend on how Mr Modi’s views their utility in the Lok Sabha elections.

The chances are negligible. If assembly elections are being fought squarely in his name, it is hard to believe that he would share space with any of the regional satraps. Another common denominator is that, and there lies the problem, all three of them have in some ways tried to assert their positions, which has become rare in BJP, and refused to toe the high command’s line. They have sustained themselves sheerly on the basis of their strong foot-prints in the three states. Or else, they would have been consigned to the backdrop long back.

The model at hand seems to be clearly based on to get rid of the regional satraps and the idea behind is to further strengthen Mr Modi’s powerful hold over the BJP. Why this inexplicable fear when he has no competitor in the BJP and has acquired the status of a “powerful leader” in the comity of nations.


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Chouhan, Vasundhara, Raman sidelined; Is end of Vajpayee- Advani era in sight?