Friday, June 21, 2013

Will Modi induct Yeddy….or ally with his party?

An interesting story in today’s Indian Express suggests that Yeddy’s KJP is OK to align with the BJP under Modi. It believes that the charges against its leader were trumped up by Advani to support his protégé, Ananth Kumar. With Advani out of the way, the party sees no reason to stay away from its alma mater of sorts. If this happens, it will be the first positive sign that the BJP will receive after Modi’s ascendance to the top. But it will also challenge the party’s anti-corruption stance against the Congress.

Yeddy’s departure from the BJP had not been a happy one. The BJP tooks months to act “decisively” against him (the party loves to show itself as being decisive!). The charges against him were framed by the noted ex-Lok Ayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde. They were not mere political charges. They were charges based on years of investigation. And yet, the BJP had tried everything possible, strained its every nerve, to avoid the unhappy separation. Unhappy because it knew that without Yeddy, Karnataka would be lost for good. There would be the ignominy of losing the lone foothold in the South. When after months of dithering, the party did ask Yeddy to leave, it tried to claim the moral highground of “zero tolerance” towards corruption. The public did not buy this. And the party was punished severely in the state elections.

The Karnataka results were seen and analyzed nationally. BJP’s anti-corruption platform was delivered a brutal (but no knock-out) blow first when it dithered on sacking Yeddy, and then when it lost the state elections. But even as it failed to convince the Karnataka public, maybe, just maybe, it did manage to enthuse its loyalists. Its spokespeople, who were getting hammered every day on TV, got something to talk about.

If Modi now embraces Yeddy, it will be a knock-out punch for the party. Suddenly, the zero-tolerance-towards-corruption policy will be torn to shreds. With a pre-election pact signed, the BJP will have no grounds left (not that it has any at the moment) to claim to be a “party with a difference”. It will have to rely solely on the unsustainable claims of development (see the several stories written on how “feku” Modi is claiming credit for the work of his predecessors) and of good governance (which again is mostly a bogus claim). Or of course, it can go back to its pet positioning of being India’s only Hindu-focused (sorry, make that Brahmin-focused) party.

But Modi has shown that he is a pragmatist. He brought in ex-Congressman and public-bully Radadiya into the party fold in Gujarat (ignoring all the moral lectures his party leaders had given when Radadiya was still in the Congress). Modi is street smart; his maneuver paid off. Radadiya and his son both won their respective Lok Sabha and assembly seats in the recent bypolls, boosting the party’s position, and Modi’s personal credibility. It’s entirely within Modi’s political wisdom to take Yeddy back into the party, or do a pre-election alliance deal with him.

There is one other temptation for the party to sign up with the KJP. It is terribly short of allies. After the loss of the JD(U), it is now down to just two allies – the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena. Even the Shiv Sena is making unhappy sounds, upset with Modi’s dalliance with its bête-noire Raj Thackeray’s MNS. Everyone knows that 2014 is going to be about alliances; each party contributing its bit towards ensuring a majority at the center. Without allies, the NDA is a non-starter. Even if the BJP under Modi does better than in 2009, there is no way it can hope to do as well as the Congress did in that year – reach 200+ seats. Without allies, there is no way Modi can come to power. Principles can wait. It’s time for some serious dog-fight in the streets!

Honestly, when one looks at the developments of the last few months, several things emerge about the party with a difference. First, it is so divided within its folds, that it perhaps cannot even claim to be a single party any longer. There is a very real chance that the Advani-Swaraj-Ananth Kumar-Yashwant Sinha-Arun Shourie camp may split the party. Second, the party’s claims on corruption are just a matter of convenience. When it comes to brasstacks, those issues are brushed under the carpet. This is why a Kejriwal has found a little, a teeny weeny space to stand on. Third, the party is as clumsy in handling its allies and as “disrespectful” of their leaders, as it has accused the Congress of when TMC and the DMK left the UPA. And fourth, it will do anything it takes to “rid the country of the Congress”!

When one peels off the layers, political parties start to display their true colors. The BJP – shorn of the rhetoric – has Hindutva at its core. With RSS as the mentor, there can be nothing else more fundamental to its existence. This also explains why the BJP’s two most stable allies are the religion-minded SAD and Shiv Sena. The Left has its economic ideology and anti-US ideologies at its core, and no matter how the whole world changes (including China and Russia, the two biggest patrons of communism in the past), it will hold steadfast. Most regional parties cater to caste aspirations – the BSP of the dalits, the SP of the Yadavs, Yeddy of the Lingayats and so on. Shorn of all fluff, the Congress is still the biggest battleship, representing all sections of the country. It’s focus is more on the rural poor; explaining why it often falls on the wrong side of the urban middle-class and the rich, who accuse it for its social schemes. This section of the population has little understanding of, or sympathy for the teeming under-privileged.

The real truth is that for a second time, Yeddy is going to pose a challenge for the BJP. In my estimation, the party realizes it made a mistake the first time (blame it on Advani!). This time around, it will make the politically correct decision (thank Modi for it!). Yeddy is BJP-bound; make way for the return of the prodigal son!

No comments:

Post a Comment