“BUCK STOPS WHERE IN BJP FOR
Over the last one month, as I
travelled through different parts of Bihar in the heat and dust of election
campaign, I got convinced of one thing. Narendra Modi was the most popular
political figure in the country. “ Modi
is a fantastic PM “ was the overwhelming view. When conversation would veer
around Nitish Kumar, the answer would be the same, “ Nitish is a fantastic CM
“. Ultimately in this CM vs PM debate, Nitish came out triumphant. So does that
mean Modi has been rejected? No
The story of Bihar debacle
for the BJP needs to be looked at from a totally different stand point. There
is no doubt about the fact that Mr Modi has been the most sought after
political campaigner for the BJP for almost ten years now. I distinctly
remember even in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, when LK Advani was the PM candidate,
the man most in demand was Modi. So its perfectly understandable for him to be
the key campaigner for the party. What needs to be looked at is who was the second
lead campaigner for the BJP? Amit Shah. Just how and why he emerged as the
second lead campaigner for the BJP in a state where he had never campaigned
before? That is where the story needs to be told.
Amit Shah is a very hands on
BJP president. There are few party presidents as hard working as him. But then
the team he has built around himself isn’t really the team that can help in
winning tough electoral battles. Its not difficult to imagine the plight of
Congress led governments in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand in 2014. Years
of anti incumbency, massive corruption scandals and a huge credibility deficit.
The first state where Amit Shah and co were really challenged was Delhi.
Results are for all to see. Bihar was the second state where he was challenged.
Again results are there for all to see. Does that then make Amit Shah a hugely
over hyped figure? Afterall, isn’t he the same man who helped BJP make a
virtual sweep in UP during Lok Sabha elections in 2014? Wasn’t it his effort
that ensured the BJP gets past the 272 mark comfortably on his own? If he was
having a dream run last year, what’s happened this year?
The political reality of 2014
was that the Congress was a company in shambles. Nation was looking for an
option. At the national level, with Modi’s American style campaigning, his
powerful oratory, Rahul Gandhi’s own naivete and Manmohan Singh’s silence, the
election was a no brainer. There was never any doubt about BJP emerging as
single largest party. Amit Shah style of politics ensured that the BJP emerged
not just as single largest party, but formed a government on its own. In Delhi
and Bihar, Amit Bhai, as he is fondly called, relied upon the same tactics that
he had adopted in 2014 general elections first and then assembly polls. A massive
media blitzkrieg, coupled with PM Modi’s rallies. He stumbled on both occasions
as his contest was not with the congress party.
That’s the one big lesson BJP will take from the Bihar Pasting.
Bihar battle was also the
first battle where Amit Shah ensured that his face was plastered on all
hoardings along with that of Narendra Modi. Now while Mr Modi has already built
a huge brand for himself, Amit Shah is still a long way off from that. In many
ways, he was also trying to project himself as someone who was best equipped to
be interpreted as an almost equal to Mr Modi. Again it was a flawed strategy.
For many, Amit Shah represented the Bahari or the outsider in the entire debate
on Bahari vs Bihari.
This is the reason why the
old guard of the BJP has chosen to specifically target him. At this stage, its
clear. The question of whether Amit Bhai will be given a second term as Party
president or not has become an open question.