Royal Challenge For Rajnath

Once again the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh has been offered the BJP’s top post at a critical juncture. So this would again be a testing time for the 61-year-old Rajnath Singh to play the role of Arjun of the Mahabharat, who blindly followed the teachings of Lord Krishna to win the battle ahead. After Atal Behari Vajpayee’s departure from active politics, the Sangh Parivar was desperate in need of a mild, disciplined mass leader, who can follow the rajdharma and have the charisma of keeping the flock together so as to bring a cheer to the saffron camp. But in the present context, keeping united the BJP leaders is really a harsher task than bringing more allies to the NDA now. Because the recent failure of the RSS in re-electing Nitin Gadkari proves that there is a missing link between the BJP and RSS leaders. It may be LK Advani or it may be RSS Sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat, nobody knows who is responsible, but the level of humiliation Nitin Gadkari faced as a national president is not acceptable. If the consensus for the next national president of the BJP had been reached within the four walls of the ‘Parivar’, then the media wrangling would not have damaged the image of the party. Certainly, a confused signal was passed on to the party cadres through the media when the candidature of Nitin Gadkari for the top post was cancelled within few hours, after the raids were carried out by the income tax department on the Purti Group. Everybody knows that it was a political conspiracy to defame Mr Gadkari and it should not be repeated. For, it is a fact that after losing state after state, and mismanaging the state party unit one after another, there was a serious discontent among the party cadres against Mr Gadkari. In fact, one or two general secretaries of his team, whom he gave an upper hand to handle important states, did hopeless job, yielding no results. In fact, the party was divided into multiple fractions. In Karnataka, the party lost senior leaders like BS Yeddyurappa. In Himachal Pradesh, the party lost due to heavy internal squabbling. In Uttarakhand, the party lost the assembly elections by a single seat, and now two groups are fighting openly for the post of state president. In Delhi, the Congress has been ruling for the last three consecutive terms despite being involved in several corruption activities during the Commonwealth Games, and is now again ready to win one more term, if the BJP cannot give a potential leadership. In Rajasthan, the infighting within the party for the organisational election is wide open. From Odisha, state office-bearers came all the way to the national capital to inform the central leaders about the state of affairs of the party and how they have been continuously humiliated by a national general secretary, and also demanded justice for the next state chief. It is a well-known fact that one section led by LK Advani along with Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar was strongly opposing Gadkari’s re-nomination. At the last moment when Gadkari’s name was discarded before the senior RSS leaders, Advani suggested the names of Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar and he even proposed the name of Ravi Shankar Prasad for the top post. However, it was the responsibility of the ‘Parivar’ leadership to sort out the leadership dispute behind the closed door rather than in the media glare.

Rajnath Singh was a unanimous choice for the top post for his clean image, strong ideological base and vast knowledge on India’s great culture, although he was a physics lecturer. In 1974, he was appointed secretary for the Mirzapur unit of Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Rajnath Singh proved himself to be a strong and good administrator, when he was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and during the NDA regime as Union Agriculture Minister. For him, the strong ideological guidelines from the RSS are like the stanzas of the Bhagwad Gita to achieve a big success for the party in the forthcoming elections to the state assemblies and finally the Lok Sabha election. When he was the national president in 2008, the BJP registered thumping victories in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It was indeed the most successful phase in the BJP’s history when it managed to win five assembly elections (Uttarakhand, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh). Again this time, the party has reposed its faith in Rajnath Singh’s leadership, when the party is facing a tough time to match the leadership of Rahul Gandhi in Congress, which appears to be united now and has gathered momentum. The dark horse of the BJP has got enough experience from the last term how to keep a balance between the RSS and the BJP. He also knows now how to deal with the top five leaders of the BJP in Delhi along with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Sharad Yadav and many senior leaders from other parties and NDA have showered praise on Rajnath Singh’s elevation. A true friend of farmers, Mr Rajnath Singh is a down-to-earth dhoti-clad Rajput leader, whom the cadres respect a lot. If one had seen the rousing welcome he received when he took over again on January 23 at the party head office, and if one had visited his official residence in Delhi, then one would have clearly witnessed a large number of farmers, grassroots-level workers making a beeline to pay their respect and express their happiness to their beloved leader. The party has again made Singh the King, expecting to infuse a new lease of life into the party. Of course, it is a royal challenge.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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