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Throwing it Away?

Monday, January 18, 2016
By Prashant Hamine

It takes no Shiv Sena to tell the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that it is fast losing ground or conceding it to the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). What is being talked about in hush-hush manner within the BJP, the Sena through its party mouthpiece 'Saamna' has been saying it more openly. Intoxication of power has been so heady for some top BJP leadership that they are unwilling to read the writing on the wall. And all this has got to do with the top leadership and those in power falling apart with the party cadres and its parent body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The latter too seems to have fallen prey to the lure of power and has abdicated its control over the party.

The result is a spectacular downward slide in popularity in just a span of one year in office for the BJP. The party has not only lost Assembly elections in other states, but even civic elections even in Maharashtra. The reason is pretty simple the cadres who toiled hard to ensure victories in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections have been left out of the sharing of the power apple pie. Leaders with questionable reputations who were imported from other political parties before the elections are now calling the shots in the party or have occupied key decision making positions in the party.

That has angered the party cadres who are out to sabotage the partys performances in elections. Appointments to government statutory committees, state run corporations and other government and semi-government bodies are yet to be made. Members from the opposition political parties still occupy some of these government bodies, despite the regime change. Besides that those in power have not been able to exert their command and control over the bureaucracy and administration.  

It is a bizarre belief that after coming to power they (BJP) do not need to do the talking, it is for the opposition to do the shouting now. The government and the party has stopped communicating. What raises the eyebrows is that during the heady days of the 2014 elections the party patted itself on its back for having become the number one party to have registered maximum number of members (1.25 crore in Maharashtra). Despite that the party has fared so poorly in the civic elections, the real test of the grassroots presence of any political party. At many places the party simply has no grassroots presence and neither has made any attempts in that direction.

Just merely on the basis of its by-far the best performance in any assembly election in Mumbai, the party is now flexing its muscles demanding more seats from its already estranged ally the Sena. Going by the crowd support to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s Padyatra over the weekend, the quiet ground work being done by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) the task of wresting power on its own in the 2017 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) looks like a uphill task with a disenchanted, hurt cadre base that has been simply brushed aside by the leadership. The taste of the simmering rage within the cadres was felt by the party’s Mumbai leadership which had invited its leaders for a brainstorming session to chalk-out strategy for the upcoming BMC elections.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar has been quick to spot the mood swing in the electorate. The party has now decided not to bail out the BJP led government out of tricky legislative and political logjams. The BJP too knows pretty well that nearly a sizeable section of its 123 MLAs owe allegiance to the NCP and Congress. That speaks volumes of its grassroots presence and dwindling cadre base. The Sena has been clever in playing the role of the opposition in the ruling alliance, maintaining a safe distance letting the BJP take the brickbats in full measure. The party seems to feel that by politically eliminating its rivals from the legislature, parliament it will eliminate them permanently. But it has forgotten that it not only needs to look at the grassroots presence its rivals have as against its own.

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