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March 14th, 2009

Many people ask me if the BJP will ever come back to power at the Centre and my answer is just like we never imagined the Congress would, the reverse would be equally true. But the fact of the matter is that never has a national party been so ill prepared after so much preparation. Never has a Prime Ministerial candidate (announced aeons ago) looked so un- Prime Ministerial and never has a cadre-based party been so divided as the BJP is today. The fact is that while the BJP may be quick to blame the Congress as a party saddled with dynastic politics, their own track record is equally abysmal as far as certain holy cows are concerned. One of them being the authority of the party President even though he may be a man of feeble intellect and negligible charisma.

  

Unlike the Congress (which has one undisputed leader), the BJP has always had duality in terms of its overall leadership and the present is no different. While Advani may be the man they want as Prime Minister, the man ostensibly running the party commands no base, only a few courtiers and is well-versed in the art of divide and rule which is what happened yesterday. Arun Jaitley is widely regarded as the strategist of the party; a man who has won them elections on the back of carefully devised plans and the ability to negotiate and communicate: both which are critical in today’s India of political alliances. This is a man no party can afford to lose. Nor is this a man they can afford to have sulk. Both of which Arun Jaitley seems to be doing and with good reason. Advani has always built a virtue of his cleanliness; a virtue of having people around him who are intellectuals and at the very basis, honourable. Something that the party President perhaps does not subscribe to which is why the elevation of a certain Sudhangshu Mittal to be the campaign in-charge of the North- East. But then again, like in chess, you sometimes need a pawn to dethrone the queen and this is the move that Rajnath Singh has played but only to the enduring decline of the BJP both in perceptual as well as real on-the-ground terms and this is what I find baffling. Why would the BJP want to commit hara-kiri just when one of their most trusted allies has left them in the lurch of the Eastern state of Orissa? Why would the BJP want to divide their house in a manner that is not just bitter but self-defeating and why would the party President himself shoot a self-goal.

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