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BJP Has Outdone Congress And Other Rivals In Last Three Years

 In the last three years BJP has outdone Congress and other rivals in the demanding art of realpolitik. The party has junked an approach often marked by a readiness to compromise.


Not long ago, BJP would not have decided to put up a candidate against Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls in view of the fact that the powerful Congress leader had numbers far more than required. But in the last three years BJP has outdone Congress and other rivals.

That the saffron party made an audacious bid to wrest the seat from powerful adversary is testimony to the transformation brought about by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in a party which could not prevent the defeat of Vajpayee government in Lok Sabha by a solitary vote in 1999.

Under Modi and Amit Shah, BJP seems determined to ensure that humiliation of April 1999 becomes a distant memory and the party does not lack a killer instinct that has often saddled it with a “choker” tag in the past.

In the last three years since Modi became PM and Shah took charge of the party, BJP has outdone Congress and other rivals in the demanding art of realpolitik.

In the most recent round of assembly elections, it pipped a lethargic Congress to forming governments in Goa and Manipur despite ending up second. BJP has expanded its coalition in the northeast with NDA governments in office in Arunachal Pradesh while it has a friendly government in Nagaland.

The party has adopted some of Congress’s tactics in wooing legislators and leaders. BJP has pragmatically turned defections into political alliances, leading to governments in Uttarakhand and Assam where imports played an important role in sealing electoral victories.

In the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections, BJP relied on Congress rebel Balwantsinh Rajput to pose a stiff challenge to Congress leader Ahmed Patel and this is the latest reflection of the party’s aggressive tactics in taking on rivals and spare nothing when it comes to grabbing an opportunity.

The party has junked an approach often marked by a readiness to compromise, a reflection of a leadership with reasons to feel vulnerable, and embraced an “attack as the best form of defence” mode. In case of Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls, statistics suggested that three candidates, including BJP president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and Patel, could have easily won as there were three vacancies and Congress had more than 45 MLAs, the minimum number to win.

But Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela’s rebellion saw a panicked Congress bundling its 44 MLAs to Bengaluru. Interestingly, Vaghela had rebelled against the BJP government in 1996 and brought down the BJP government under Suresh Mehta to become chief minister with Congress support. It was BJP that tried to protect its flock at a resort.
The recent resignations by SP and BSP MLCs paving the way for some of Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adiyta Nath’s ministers is another sign of a new BJP. MLCs had quit on a day when Shah was in Lucknow, making it clear that aggressive tactics will not stop after elections are over. In January, BJP captured power in Arunachal Pradesh after 33 of the 43 People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) MLAs, including CM Pema Khandu, joined the saffron party. This is the second time in 13 years that BJP is in power in the politically volatile border state. BJP’s success in mending forces with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and the high profile it has given to opposing violence by CPM against its workers in Kerala and the combative posture against West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee are more of the same.
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