Millennium Post

Internecine war in BJP continues

Earlier this week senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rajnath Singh, in a last minute development, was appointed as party president. This came following incumbent president Nitin Gadkari caving into the pressure brought in by rival factions led by party veteran Lal Krishna Advani, who opposed second term for Maharashtra leader tooth and nail. India’s principal opposition party has been caught in an internecine battle with its ideological and social mentor the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) since 2005, when Advani was removed as party president following his visit to the mausoleum of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, during a trip to the neighbouring country.

A veteran of many battles, Advani has been unable to overcome his unceremonious exit from the party at the behest of RSS, whose agenda he promoted and propagated all through his more than half-a-century long political career. Advani in 2005 was replaced by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Rajnath Singh, who is again in the hot seat albeit once again as a replacement for the original choice.

Singh, during his first tenure at 11 Ashoka Road, the national headquarters of the BJP, did not have a very comfortable time. He was at the receiving end of the protégées of Advani, though he tried to provide a spirited leadership to the party leading it to forming the first government south of Vindhyas – under B S Yeddyurappa in Karnataka. During this his party won elections in Uttarakhand, Punjab, Himachal and Gujarat but he was never given much credit for it.

For the loss of BJP in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, despite Advani being the prime ministerial candidate and Arun Jaitley the main poll manager, it was Singh who was made to pay the penalty as the leadership refused him another term as party president.

Though Singh did not get the second term, RSS ensured that none from Advani’s team made it as they foisted party’s Maharashtra unit leader Nitin Gadkari as party president. The Nagpur-based leader was never at ease with his colleagues in Delhi and his discomfort with them made him the ‘most suitable’ candidate, from the RSS view point, to have a second term in the office. This was signal enough for the commencement of a proxy war between RSS and BJP’s Delhi-centric leaders.

This battle has ended in a no-win situation for both the sides – while Advani ensured against second term for Gadkari, RSS managed to have its choice as replacement for the outgoing president.
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