Millennium Post

Chinks widen in BJP armour

With the denial of a second term to the state BJP President Prabhat Jha, cracks have appeared in the ruling BJP party set-up of Madhya Pradesh. As the expiry of the first term of Jha neared, everybody thought that he was destined to get a second term. But, then, suddenly, in a highly dramatic manner, the choice fell on Lok Sabha member Narendra Singh Tomar. The decision to install Narendra Tomar as the head of the state party organisation was kept secret till the last moment.

The party rank and file was under the impression that the announcement of a second term for Prabhat Jha was only a formality. But all of a sudden, the name of Narendra Tomar was announced. The decision came like a bombshell and a rude shock for Jha. At a public event at the state BJP office, Jha could not control his emotions and came out with a statement that left the audience dumbfounded. He said that the decision to name Tomar as the new President was kept as secret as the decision to conduct a nuclear test at Pokhran. Jha was in an angry mood and his anger was directed at Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who played a key role in denying a second term to Jha.

Knowledgeable sources claim that till the last moment, Chauhan did not reveal what was going in his mind and continued to give the impression, among others to Jha himself, that he was the obvious choice.

It is widely known that Jha was the blue-eyed boy of the RSS. He was being backed by Suresh Soni, a powerful RSS functionary, for a second term. In fact, Suresh Soni was camping in Bhopal till the final choice was announced. It is clear that this time round, Soni could not have his way. It was Soni who imposed Jha on the state BJP, against the wishes of many party stalwarts. Prabhat Jha hails from Bihar and long back he was posted in Bhopal as the Public relations in charge of the state BJP. Whilst in Bhopal, he handled the PR job quite well. He made friends with the media. His reputation as a competent PR man reached the BJP headquarters. He was later shifted to New Delhi. He used his Delhi presence to develop close ties with Central BJP leaders.

He gained prominence during the period when Rajnath Singh was the party chief. After the 2008 Assembly elections, he was moved to Bhopal as the President of the state BJP. The post of state BJP chief fell vacant after Narendra Tomar was shifted to Delhi as one of the general secretaries of BJP. After taking over charge as the state BJP chief, he took many steps to strengthen the party.

By his utterances and activities, he gave the impression that he was the muscleman of the chief minister. He organised a massive programme to felicitate Shivraj Singh on the completion of his five years in office. The BJP won almost all the by-elections that were held during Jha’s tenure. He worked hard and travelled extensively.

But due to his acts of commission and omission, he alienated many senior leaders of the arty. Most important among them was Sumitra Mahajan, a five-time BJP Lok Sabha member from Indore. She held out the threat that if Jha was given a second term, she would contest against him. It is reported that two former Chief Ministers, Sunderlal Patwa and Kailash Joshi, also did not approve the idea of giving a second term to Jha. They gave a piece of their mind in informal interactions as to who should head the party in the election year. (MP is to go to polls in 2013.)

Some well-informed insiders of the BJP claim that Jha had grown too ambitious and had started toying with the idea of positioning himself as an alternative to Shivraj Singh Chauhan. It is learnt that Jha started promising tickets to aspirants for the 2013 Assembly polls. It appears that this set alarm bells ringing and forced Chauhan to give a second thought to the proposal to give a second term to Jha. It seems that Chauhan started working against Jha behind the curtains and made it clear that now his choice was Narendra Tomar. But he took ample care to keep his intentions a closely-guarded secret.

Meanwhile, Suresh Soni continued to lobby for Prabhat Jha. But this time, his choice was not given weightage by a powerful section of the RSS. The RSS leadership thought that it would not be wise to ignore the choice of Shivraj Singh. In view of the popularity of Chauhan, the RSS leadership decided not to take the risk of alienating him. That the RSS loves power and is ready to dump anyone, howsoever dear he or she may be to it, for the sake of power once again became clear by the way Jha was treated.

After the humiliating manner in which Jha was shown the door, it would be interesting to watch what his next move would be. Some expect that he would be given some important assignment in Delhi in order to prevent him from dabbling into state politics. (IPA)
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