Wednesday, May 15, 2013

BJP\'s election prospects marred by factionalism

16 May, 2013,NEW DELHI:

There is too much democracy in the party, BJP leaders often joke, using the euphemism to explain how factionalism has kept the main opposition from profiting from the serial scams that have engulfed the Congress at the Centre. Barring Gujarat, the party has not had much to flaunt by way of electoral success over the past year.

Even at the peak of its recent campaign in Parliament, where it boycotted much of the second half of the budget session over corruption and alleged misuse of CBI, the party lost Karnataka badly to Congress.

While BS Yeddyurappa\'s exit from the party, months after he was removed as chief minister following his indictment in a Lokayukta report on illegal mining, turned the electoral arithmetic against BJP, the frequent infighting and change of chief ministers conveyed an impression of a party that could not provide a stable government.

\"In Karnataka, they were incompetent,\" said historian and writer Ramachandra Guha, \"Objectively speaking, BJP does not have a footprint in the south or the east... Local factors decide elections.\"

It was not much different in the northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh either. In Uttarakhand, the party made a change at the eleventh hour, replacing Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank with BC Khanduri, banking on his clean image to undo the damage. But it lost the state, albeit with a thin margin. In Himachal Pradesh, Congress came to power despite allegations of corruption against its chief ministerial candidate Virbhadra Singh just ahead of the elections.

The Karnataka result again brought out the rift in the central leadership, reinforcing the image of a party at war with itself rather than its bigger national adversary. Senior party leader LK Advani\'s recent blog, apparently prompted by reports claiming that Yeddyurappa\'s departure had harmed the party, only magnified the discord among the party\'s central leaders.

\"Local elections are fought on local issues. As far as the nation is concerned, people are waiting for an opportunity to throw UPA out. Even in Karnataka, people will vote for BJP in Lok Sabha elections,\" said ex-party chief Venkaiah Naidu, adding, \"There is complete unity of purpose, even if there are different views.\" Guha pointed out that factionalism was not unique to BJP.

\"Congress also has differences and factions are endemic to any party or organisation. That\'s the nature of democratic politics,\" he said. The dissonance within its ranks is likely to haunt BJP, and its ideological mentor RSS even more when the party takes a call on its PM candidate. The party has been ducking the questions on a formal announcement, hoping that the perception that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi will lead the campaign should suffice to keep the cadres enthused for now.
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