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It’s the right choice, BJP!

Updated on: 05 February,2024 06:54 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

The party’s masterstroke of Bharat Ratna for L K Advani caters brilliantly to a long-cherished wish of the Hindutva brigade, particularly in the run-up to the BJP’s campaign to regain the country’s throne

It’s the right choice, BJP!

L K Advani

Dharmendra JoreKAR sevaks, who are now in their fifties and sixties, must have been very happy over the announcement that the country’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, would be awarded to the ‘field marshal’ of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement, L K Advani. Invited by the organisers, the veteran of Hindutva politics did not attend the consecration of the Balak Ram idol in Ayodhya late last month for health reasons. His absence did upset hard-core followers of the socio-political game that was played on the religious turf to completely change the Bharatiya Janata Party’s fortunes. As far as the civilian honour goes, the Modi government had, a few years ago, surprised its own party workers and the Congress by picking  former President Pranab Mukherjee, a Congress-appointee, for the Bharat Ratna when it was expected to choose one of its own. 

Many expected Advani to be the President, but that didn’t happen. And when murmurs that he has been unceremoniously sidelined again gained pace following the consecration in Ayodhya, questions were raised over the BJP’s handling of the old-timers’ sentiment that it was time the party returned Advani’s favour. The leadership did not disappoint. The Bharat Ratna for the former deputy prime minister caters perfectly to the long-cherished wish of the Hindutva brigade, particularly during the BJP’s run-up to a confident campaign to regain the Delhi throne with a record number in the Lok Sabha this summer. People in the BJP feel that Advani could just be the beginning as some more Hindutva icons, living and dead, need similar recognition.

Guns and roses

In a shocking incident, BJP’s Kalyan east legislator Ganpat Gaikwad shot his political rival Mahesh Gaikwad (Shinde Sena) at point-blank range. The bullets were fired in the senior police inspector’s official cabin while the officer was out pacifying the warring political supporters of both Gaikwads. CM Eknath Shinde was quick to visit the seriously injured at a Thane hospital. Deputy CM and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a high-level inquiry. The situation that has arisen out of the rarest of rare incidents has not been easy to handle for the coalition partners, who have always been at loggerheads over this particular Vidhan Sabha constituency. The sitting MLA feared that the Shinde Sena would get his seat for Mahesh Gaikwad to contest from later this year. Tension was palpable between the rivals, but nobody expected such a bloody culmination. Recently, it was also evident that the local BJP and Shinde Sena leaders had differences over the sharing of the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in Thane district, particularly one held by the CM’s parliamentarian son. The trigger-happy Ganpat Gaikwad has hardened the CM camp even more. It seems the BJP will have to keep the gun-toting Ganpat Gaikwad away if it were to keep the ruling partner in good humour ahead of the crucial general polls.

Plainspeak or opinion 

VBA chief Prakash Ambedkar has kept the MVA partners guessing even as they work on creating a solid Opposition bloc to fight the BJP, at least in Maharashtra. This time, Ambedkar left the MVA leaders embarrassed when he bluntly said, after attending a seat-sharing meeting, that INDIA bloc had ceased to exist, because Nitish Kumar had joined the BJP, Mamata and AAP had decided to go solo, and SP had given the Congress short shrift in UP. “I wish the MVA doesn’t go the same way... we want to be careful,” he said, while insisting that he wanted the MVA to have a common minimum programme before talking seat-sharing with him. While senior MVA leaders accompanied him quite baffled, he said he had left the meeting midway because he had some prior engagement. When asked later about Ambedkar’s opinion on the Opposition falling out, the MVA leaders had a lot of explaining to do.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore

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