They say a picture can speak a thousand words, but then so can the absence of one. An enormous hoarding commissioned by the city’s BJP unit on the Bandra stretch of the Western Express Highway speaks volumes of the ongoing discord within the party, and hints at the lines along which new allegiances have formed within it -- all by virtue of the conspicuous absence of the newly anointed chairman of the party’s election campaign committee chairman, Narendra Modi.
While Modi’s exclusion is telling enough, prevailing loyalties are hammered home in other ways as well -- the banner is dominated by the presence of BJP patriarch L K Advani, accompanied by a very telling quip from the veteran, which threatens ‘justice for all and appeasement of none.’ The banner is endorsed by the city’s BJP president Ashish Shelar, with a prominent photograph.
The banner also accommodates the beaming countenances of senior party leaders at the national and state levels -- all but Modi, that is. Party chief Rajnath Singh, former party chief Nitin Gadkari, deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde, the leader of the opposition in the state council Vinod Tawde, the state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis and the leader of the opposition in the state assembly Ekanth Khadse -- all make it to the banner, but the party’s new face Modi.
The city unit’s preference for Advani over Modi can be explained variously. For one, Shelar is a well-known supporter of Nitin Gadkari, who has in recent times received support from Advani. Advani even batted for Gadkari’s appointment as the party’s election campaign chief for assembly elections in Delhi and Rajasthan.
The quote chosen for the banner also hints that retribution is on the agenda. Asked about the prominent absence of Modi, Shelar scrambled for explanations, saying the quote harks back to the Ram Janmabhoomi Aandolan of yore. “Advani, by using the quote, advocated the ideology of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee. This has nothing to do with the present context,” he clarified.
He reiterated that the city unit has put up several hoardings across the city as a part of its plan to claim credit for various accomplishments. “Some of the other hoardings do have pictures of Modi, and other leaders such as BJP CMs in other states,” Shelar insisted, adding, “We have a strong line of party leaders and we can’t accommodate each one of them in a single hoarding, so a select group is on display on each hoarding.”
The city BJP unit yesterday protested against potholes on roads by filling up roads managed by BMC, which the party itself rules along with its old ally Shiv Sena.
Ignoring the coalition dharma, BJP staged protests in 22 assembly constituencies in the city, and blamed officials and contractors for the mess. Prominent BJP leaders participating in the protest included party leader in BMC Dilip Patel, education committee chief Manoj Kotak, district chiefs Vinayak Kamat, Jagdish Patel, Sanjeev Patel, Suhas Adiwarekar, Sunil Rane, and corporator Vitthal Kharatmol.
Even as the protestors claimed that the agitation was against the BMC administration, others pointed out that the ruling party BJP has greater say in infrastructural projects than Shiv Sena, and neither parties can shirk their responsibility.