The year 2019 is a historic year for the BJP as it is the first time that the Party returned to power after completing a full five term. That too with a strong mandate securing a majority on its own, under the strong leadership of Prime Minister, who is considered the country’s most popular leader even by his stringent critics.
However, as the year nears its end, signs don’t seem to bode well for the ruling Party which once boasted about its ability to maintain coalition dharma is presently facing charges of ignoring its allies. See how its longest ally, Shiv Sena which shared a close ideological bond with the BJP for vis-à-vis Hindutva, is no more in the NDA today and has joined hands with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and the Congress to form the Government in Maharashtra, its bitter rivals a month ago.
Undeniably, one can question the Sena’s actions, whether it was justified for asking for a power share model despite securing less than double seats 56 MLAs compared to BJP’s 105. Yet, none can deny the allegations against the BJP for capturing power at any cost — even if it means undermining the political space of its allies.
The accusation got even stronger when the BJP installed Fadnavis as Maharashtra’s Chief Minister while people were sleeping with the help of NCP’s Ajit Pawar. Needless to say, a desperate act to engineer a split within the regional Party only to remain in power with the help of Governor Koshyari, a former RSS leader.
That too the same Ajit Pawar against whom the Party had accused of serious corruption charges before elections. Worse, for the BJP was that the Government it installed through midnight-early morning coup didn’t last, with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar resigning followed by Fadnavis putting in his papers. After just 80 hours in power!
The unnecessary political drama initiated by the BJP, which backfired, will continue to haunt the Party. In fact, it was almost a repeat of last year’s Karnataka sequence where too, with the help of a pliable Governor the Party managed to install its own Government with Yediyurappa as Chief Minister only to resign within three days.
If one looks at the past, these were the same charges that were hurled towards the Congress by Opposition Parties, including the BJP and its earlier avatar Jana Sangh, for undermining the Constitutional principles only to remain in power at any cost.
If one starts digging, the Congress, one would definitely remember the time of Indira Gandhi who invoked of Article 356 to remove Opposition-ruled State Governments on silly pretexts. Unfortunately, this became a routine practice.
True, with the emergence of regional Parties and with the weakening of the Congress, invoking Article 356 was reduced, yet it continued indirectly with the tacit help of Governors, who were former Congress Party leaders. The best example is the controversial decision of then Bihar Governor Buta Singh, who recommended President’s Rule despite the NDA (BJP-JDU) claiming to have the required numbers. The Governor’s recommendation was accepted by then Congress- led UPA Government at an emergency Cabinet meeting at midnight and approved by then President Kalam, who later regretted his decision.
This controversial decision by the Central Government and Governor drew flak from the Supreme Court. In the same year, in neighbouring Jharkhand, the UPA appointed Governor Sibte Rizvi surprised everyone by inviting JMM’s Shibu Soren, an ally of the Congress to form the Government, despite the NDA’s presenting the list of required MLAs.
There is no gaimnsaying, the Congress which is perceived to be declining is still tainted by its past image with some regional Parties, which are also struggling to survive against the political tide of the BJP. BSP’s Mayawati continues to be suspicious of the Congress’ motives and maintains a distance from the Party.
The BJP-Sena divide in Maharashtra is not an isolated event. Already, the All Jharkhand Students’ Union, an ally of BJP is contesting elections separately in the State polls. Also, there is some uneasiness within existing allies. Take Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal of Punjab which is wary of the Saffron Sangh. Given it is trying to expand its foothold in the State.
In last month’s Haryana elections, when seat sharing discussions were on regarding allocation of two-three seats to the SAD, the BJP instead poached its only MLA — drawing condemnation from Akali’s central leadership.
Not only in Punjab, the Maharashtra events don’t seem to go well with the Bihar’s JDU, the present largest ally of BJP in Parliament. The Party has been doubtful of the BJP’s intentions in next year’s State Assembly elections with many State saffron leaders urging Nitish Kumar to vacate the post of Chief Minister and move to Delhi in national politics.
Although BJP President Amit Shah has clearly clarified that Nitish would be the face of the NDA in next year’s polls in Bihar, JDU leaders are still skeptical, as who knows whether the BJP would repeat another Maharashtra by trying to do some sort of business with arch rival RJD, as it tried with NCP. Already, there have been allegations against RJD’s Tejasvi Yadav of having a tacit understanding with BJP due to the fear of ED and CBI.
Ironically, one side PM Modi raises the slogan of Congress-Mukt Bharat and on the other side under his leadership, the BJP is seen doing the same infamous acts of the Congress, with complaints from allies on being ignored by the Party. Indeed, the same BJP which showed the country how to pursue coalition politics under the able leadership of Vajpayee, who became the first BJP Prime Minister to successfully run the first full term coalition Government from 1999-2004.
This also forced the Congress in 2004 to contest elections by forming a national alliance for the first time. So, it would be better for the BJP to restraint its hunger for power by leaving some breathing space for the Opposition, especially for its existing allies by giving more importance to their grievances. This would be good for democracy and will also prevent the Congressisation of the Saffron Sangh!