Dharmendra Jore: Power-drunk insensitivity or stand-up comedy?

State BJP president Danves recent jabs and utterances have done more harm to the party than foster camaraderie

Some relations have their own charm. One such jovial bond is that between the brothers-in-law. Its a friendly connect that allows the two to crack jokes at each others expense, as long as its within the norms of civility. However, a senior BJP leader, who has long glorified his affiliation to an organisation that prides itself on Indian values and culture, has become an unacceptable exception. Where he should have set an example by not making a contemptuous reference to a saala-jamai relation, he went the other way when he attempted to fend off protesting farmers.

Diluting the job description
The leader in question is state BJP president Raosaheb Danve. A longtime MP, he has consistently failed in doing justice to the illustrious seat he has inherited from leaders that hold the values of the Sangh Parivaar in high esteem. The chair has always demanded decorum, civility and a behaviour pattern that befitted the cultured guy image. But though some leaders in the past did veer away from the job description with their tantrums and personal life adventures, they did not really harm the party as much as Danves recent abusive language against distressed farmers did. In response, Danves effigies were burnt; protest marches staged; and some Shiv Sena leaders even announced a bounty for snapping his wagging tongue.

The farmers have been increasingly distressed over the states failed procurement of pulses (tur). And Danves insensitive statement, saying, “Government has purchased 1 lakh tonnes of tur. Yet they are crying, saale. Stop raising these issues now,” only added fuel to the fire. It also made matters more complicated for chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has successfully pleaded with the Centre to extend procurement of a bumper crop of tur this season.

Changing tack
After receiving flak from farmers and party high command, Danve clarified that his statement was not for farmers, but for party workers who he was interacting with. In saying so though, does he justify using such disrespectful language against his own party workers? It doesnt seem so because, no BJP leader, except for some junior spokesperson, has come to his rescue.

Unlike Danve and some BJP leaders across the country, Fadnavis has taken PM Narendra Modis advice against speaking out of context seriously. Consider the several leaders in UP and some union ministers who put the BJP in a fix by making unsavoury statements, which were later retracted, but not before creating an ill will in the people. The BJP in Maharashtra is also expected to abide by the PMs agenda, but a power-drunk party president seems to be thinking otherwise.

Wheres the CM?
Now, whenever confronted by the media, Fadnavis dodges questions on Danve, indicating clearly that he will have his own way rather than Danve. Instead of defending Danve, the CM has taken it upon himself to rectify the party chiefs unpardonable mistakes. Tactically, he has also involved state president in doing a damage control. To that end, the two will lead the partys Samvaad Yatra (communication tour) in different parts of the state wherein they will interact with farmers. Will they be successful in neutralising angry farmers? Only time will tell.

Danves utterances - he is a repeat offender - has made some in the BJP think that he may be doing it deliberately to create hurdles for the CM. Danve is one of the senior most BJP leaders in the state and was sent packing from Delhi where he was a minister of state to head state unit. Additionally, Danve repeatedly says that he asked for the gig because he didnt want to be a minister without authority. Even interactions with him create the impression that he is a stand-up comedian, who loves cracking jokes, and seeks immense pride in his narrative skills. Yet, he should know that serious leaders have always distinguished between a formal and informal interaction, be it with friends, foes or the masses in general.

Bear in mind, that early in their careers, BJP leaders are said to be given lessons in public speaking, personal conduct and morality and Danve qualifies as a hardcore RSS worker-turned-politician who cultivated his vote bank even before the Modi wave swept the country. So assuming that Danve had his early lessons, he has chosen to move away from his partys moral stand. Will he justify his public offer to get demonetised notes exchanged, saying that he wasnt affected by the policy? Will he clarify why he told people at an election rally to accept money in exchange for vote? Will he also tell where he raised that fortune spent on his sons marriage? Its time people in the Sangh-BJP Parivaar checked Danves roots.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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