(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
The fallout of crushing defeat of the BJP in Bihar elections is coming into the open with the sidelined “senior leaders – LK Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Yeshwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar – issuing a joint statement highlighting the “emasculation” of the party by Modi-Amit Shah duo.
Furthermore, they have gone on record that the “duo” has not learnt a lesson from the fiasco in Delhi. They have demanded a thorough review of reasons for the defeat instead of merely attributing it to the electoral “Arithmetic” and “everyone is responsible”.
Of course, Shatrughan Sinha has demonstrated his open defiance to party leadership by congratulating both Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav in person. Moreover, he has left no stone unturned to express his animosity towards the “duo”.
And, dissent from other MPs, particularly from Bihar, is coming into the open.
Despite political forecasting is quite hazardous, one is tempted to attempt it. The writing on the wall for the BJP, particularly the “duo” and its coterie, appears glaringly clear.
The upcoming election schedule includes: Pondicherry prior to Feb 2016; Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala before May 2016; and Goa; Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh prior to May 2017.
Having suffered ignominious electoral reverse in Delhi and equally crushing defeat in Bihar, the BJP cannot hope in its wildest dreams to fair well in all the elections to be held before May 2016.
Furthermore, based on current scenario, even BJP is likely to face electoral drubbing. In particular, with the two states having almost one ex-serviceman or serving soldier per family smarting under the betrayal on the OROP issue.
Add to it, Manohar Parrikar’s, the Defense Ministers, outburst against ex-servicemen returning the medals – “Unsoldierly” conduct. As the Defense minister, he should have exercise abundant caution in making such a derogatory remark since today’s serving soldier too would be tomorrow’s ex-servicemen.
By making such derogatory remarks coupled with prevarication and procrastination over the OROP, the BJP is giving a golden opportunity to opposition parties to exploit armed forces issues to their advantage.
If the BJP “duo and its coterie led by Arun Jaitley” think that they would be play the OROP card just before the Punjab and UP elections, it would be too late to reclaim both veterans and serving soldier’s confidence and respect just before the elections.
Many of the affected people are questioning the wisdom of Modi going around huge financial packages in Bihar and J & K besides aid packages to alien nations on his tours abroad whilst denying an additional Rs.1000 crores to fulfill original OROP demands.
It is never too late to realize for the BJP that it is an internet-social network era induced by communications revolution. Soldiers are no fools. They have become worldly wise; understand the wily games politicians and bureaucrats play. Furthermore, they too know that the government is under writing lakhs of crores of rupees of loans to corporate houses.
Stretch them you cannot on a fool’s paradise course for ever. All political parties must realize that they must keep the morale of the armed forces on a high pitch. Otherwise, they would end up paying a high prize both in war and peace.
At stake, is BJPs – Modi’s – credibility as the Prime Minister! No use in shifting the blame to bureaucracy or financial constraints.
Admit or accept it or not, it is the armed forces personnel constituted the backbone of the BJP from its formative days. More so, they gave their unstinted support to the BJP in 2015 elections. So, BJP has already moved on the self destructive path by not fulfilling the pre-promises made in public.
And, the Defense Minister should be cautioned to be more careful in making derogatory statements which would result in demoralization of serving soldiers.
In other countries, veterans and serving soldiers are held in highest esteem and their welfare needs cared for. It is disgusting to note that they are sitting in “Jantar Mantar” endlessly crying for their due. Modi and the BJP are trampling the “Jai Jawan” slogan by their unimaginative dealing of a sensitive issue.
More the delay in finalizing the OROP issue more the loss of credibility of Modi and the office of the Prime Minister. And, the BJP will pay for it if they take recourse to the plea that the decision will be given on submission of the Commission report six months later.
Finally, the reforms push is never too late. But, it should not end up once again in uncontrolled land acquisition spree like that has happened for the sake of creating the new capital of Andhra Pradesh at Amravati – whopping 60,000 acres.
Modi and the ruling combine must first utilize all lands of non-performing PSUs and underutilized Defense Estate lands running into lakhs of acres easily accessible with good infrastructure ready for use. It is best left to the state governments.
Yet another significant issue that needs to be understood by Modi and the ruling regime is that five years is too little a time for them to promise the moon to the people. “Sab ke Sath, Sab ke Viaks” is good as a slogan; but quite difficult when it comes to implementation. For example, the proposal of 100 “Smart Cities” is utopian expectation within five years. Similarly, the “Swatch Bharat” is yet another utopian expectation considering that it must first precede psychological reconditioning or inherited unprecedented mindset change of majority.
Viewed in such an overall context and content, Modi-Shah duo must build bridges with the “Old Guard”, the founders and makers of the party. Otherwise, all those leaders who were their erstwhile followers will soon rally under them and take along with them those nurturing better returns. Simultaneously, Modi must regain the trust and confidence of the “Jai Jawan and jai Kisan”. Otherwise, the BJP future prospects are doomed in 2019.