Jaswant Singh has no hopes of becoming the VP. The NDA never had a chance of winning at all. The fight is more a principled one as Sushma Swaraj said. Why then did the party not use this wonderful opportunity to score differently – clearing the path for younger leaders from its party to be PM when it came to power and building bridges with its estranged ally, the JD (U)?
There were media reports some days back that the NDA might nominate Sharad Yadav, President JD (U), for VP. Had they done that, they would have scored a hit with their ally. More than anything else, they would have ensured that the JD (U) did not vote with the UPA, just as it has decided to do on the Prez polls. Nitish Kumar would have had no option but to go along with the NDA. If the entire election is anyways only a symbolic gesture, then why not use it to build a stronger alliance for the 2014 elections?
Surely the BJP realizes that it is on a rocky wicket with the JD (U). More important that the JD (U) voting against the NDA in the Prez elections is the cantankerous and vicious sparring that has taken place between Nitish Kumar and Modi. At least in the short run, Nitish appears to have won with Modi silenced for now. Nitish has his compulsions to oppose Modi. His own popularity in
Bihar (not something most people realize) is on the decline, and as he prepares for the LS polls in 2014 and the state polls in 2015, he will have to fall back on caste and religious politics forever popular in his state. There is no way he can woo the large Muslim population by remaining cozy with the BJP. Nitish is going to be a big problem for both the BJP and Modi. The BJP had better do something about this. Bihar is a hugely important state, and the BJP cannot let that state drift away from its fold.
Could the NDA have nominated Advani? Now I know that this would be seen as a snub to him, and comparable to Mamata nominating the PM, but let’s be practical here. Advani can never be PM, even if the NDA wins power in 2014. He is too old now for the job (85 this November). Besides, his acceptability as PM within the wider NDA family is very unsure. His hardline image continues to polarize the alliance. But if he stood for VP, it is likely all NDA alliance partners would support him. After all, no one can deny that Advani is the tallest BJP leader. Surely, the alliance partners would respect him enough not to vote against him. In fact, it is likely that even some UPA allies may vote for him…..
Would Advani have agreed? Would he have agreed that he cannot be PM; and that he should become VP? If he became VP now and if the NDA came to power in 2014, he could even have a good chance of becoming the Prez in 2017. Just like Pranab realized he could never be PM, what if Advani was practical enough to realize the same? Advani’s departure from the PM’s race would bring relief and peace to the BJP and clear the decks for someone younger to become PM. At present, one doesn’t know clearly…..Advani may still throw in his hat for the PM’s job.
Why Jaswant Singh? How does the BJP benefit by nominating Jaswant Singh? Jaswant Singh has been at war with the party every now and then. He was even expelled from the party in 2009. He is a political lightweight; hardly the politician who could rally alliance partners and BJP state cadres behind him. Is it that the BJP doesn’t want to surrender the nomination to an ally and wants to keep it for itself but finds that it has no other suitable candidate from within its fold? Is it that no one from the party really wants to contest, knowing that the chances of winning are almost nil?
The UPA will breathe easy now that the NDA has nominated Jaswant. It can now be sure that the Left will vote for its candidate. Had Sharad Yadav or Advani been nominated, it could have gone either ways.
Should one read anything into the goings on between the Congress and the JD (U)? Is the JD (U) better off partnering the Congress in
Bihar? The Congress is a weak party in the state unlike the BJP which has a robust political base. It should be an easier party for the JD (U) to handle at the state level. For the Congress, it should be easy to dump Laloo and Paswan; neither of them has any chance of winning in the state. If it wants to have any chances of winning in 2014 at all, JD (U) could be that magical partner. So is it possible that the two parties are trying to tango together? The two central universities that the Congress recently agreed to in Bihar gives some hint of this. Or is it that the JD (U) is just keeping the BJP in check by acting coy with the Congress? Only time will tell!
The real truth is that the NDA messed up the Prez nomination and has now messed up the VP nomination. It has let go an excellent opportunity to mend its very broken relationship with JD (U). It could also have pushed its own veteran leader Advani to be a little pragmatic. That it did neither shows again that the BJP can growl a lot, but it simply cannot bite…..