Millennium Post

BJP mulls hara-kiri in Delhi

Politics is an extra-ordinary profession. It’s seldom that a party which has won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in a state finds itself in a defensive position in less than a month’s time. On the other hand, a party which should have been tethered by its poor performance in the consecutive assembly and the parliament polls, is going places demonstrating against the ruling party and drawing some degree of applause too for its performance, if not complete sympathy.

It all started with a summer squall hitting the city on 30 May, four days after Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister. It uprooted some high tension power poles sending the power supply in the capital into complete disarray. What followed next was a phase of extremely hot weather, which coupled with power cuts, made living in the national Capital absolutely unbearable. A bureaucrat dominated state government in the absence of a political executive, expectedly did not rise to the challenge and residents suffered.

Meanwhile, pushed to the wall, the state Congress under the new leadership smelled an opportunity and beat Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at what it does best, raising a dramatic protest. They locked the chief secretary of the national capital territory in his chamber at Delhi secretariat demanding restoration of normal power supply. It had the desired effect with the prime minister taking note and the home minister nudging the Lieutenant Governor to come out of his gubernatorial slumber and proactively resolve the issue.

This move should have effectively countered the ‘movement’ which the Congress, with some degree of success, has attempted to raise. However, a politically immature comment from union commerce minister Piyush Goyal spurred the Congress further. He blamed the Sheila Dikshit government for failing to improve power infrastructure in the capital for the current crisis. There may be some truth in what Goyal said but the minister should have realised that his opponents would immediately adversely compare current power situation with as it prevailed during Dikshit regime.

With Delhi BJP president Harsh Vardhan inducted into the union cabinet and no visible local face, Goyal unfortunately has come to be represent BJP’s face in the national capital and that too with his foot in his mouth. The local BJP leadership on the other hand has been unable to create a counter to the Congress all this while as they have been left in a state of limbo by their central leadership.
The party has failed to decide whether it would follow the politics of ‘permutation and combination’ to form a government in the national capital by ‘weaning away’ legislators from another outfit in the state of bewilderment – the AAP, or go for dissolution of the assembly and polls thereafter. While state BJP president and union health minister Harsh Vardhan favours dissolution of the house and face elections, there is a group within the party, mostly of the MLAs who won the last poll with small margin, who want to secure their five-year term.

The call on this state of dilemma has to be taken by the centre, which fears that lest the state BJP fail to perform admirably in the assembly poll, it would make Narendra Modi lose the hallow of ‘Chakravarti’ (all conquering) leader. But then in the next few months at least two other important states – Haryana and Maharashtra – are going to polls and Modi’s stature of ‘Chakravarti’ would be on test anyway.

Moreover, if the BJP were to form a government in Delhi by weaning away disgruntled AAP MLAs, it would only give a new lease of life to a beleaguered AAP leadership, which in the midst of the power crisis is spending time protesting against the rise in the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat.
As mentioned in these columns last week sooner the ruling party decides to clean the Aegean’s stable in the national capital, the better for it. The call on this count will have to be taken both by the Central government and the party’s central leadership. The former would have to first decide on the status of Delhi, whether to continue in the present format of the National Capital Territory or grant it full statehood. Once that is decided, schedule of elections for Vidhan Sabha should be finalised.
However, as the things have been allowed to flounder and matter going out of the hands especially on the power front, the BJP workers are already feeling demoralized and cornered. The innovative parody of the slogan used by Modi supporters, ‘Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi’ by the Congress workers into ‘Har Har Mombatti, Ghar Ghar Mombatti’ (Hail candle, to each home a candle) has already started to catch people’s imagination.

The party leadership should not be in two minds. It should go for immediate dissolution of the assembly and face the electorate afresh in polls. The BJP should have the confidence in the mandate which the people have given them in both the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha polls. In the meanwhile it should administer the city well through an effective Raj Niwas, even if that means replacing the present incumbent with somebody who could deliver.

For party which has just been given such historical mandate even to think of making government by horse trading would be like ending its goodwill in the city for long time. Not to forget it has taken them over a decade to win this goodwill.’

The author is with Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting Editor, Millennium Post
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