The storm within the BJP is refusing to wane away. The party ruling at the Centre with an absolute majority has suddenly found itself at the middle of inner-churning after the debacle in Bihar polls. Following the public statement issued by party seniors — LK Advani, MM Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar – seeking accountability, senior ministers in the current dispensation led by PM Modi expressed discontent over the platform chosen by the former.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister and former President of BJP Venkaiah Naidu said, “It has never been the culture of the party to blame any individual for the future of the party. Elections are won and lost as a result of collective effort.”
Lending an assurance that party organisation will take note of the “views and concerns” expressed by the seniors, Nadiu also asserted that the country and party needed Narendra Modi’s leadership.
“Some of our senior leaders have raised certain issues. It would have been better if these issues were raised in a party forum rather than public, but still we will take note of these views and concerns,” Naidu told the press.
In a dramatic move late on Tuesday night, which caught the BJP brass and organisation by surprise, four party veterans, two of them former national president of the BJP, came out with the public statement saying the party has been “emasculated” in the last one year and was being “forced to kowtow to a handful”.
Though the seniors stopped short of naming anyone, they sought accountability and responsibility to be fixed for BJP’s dismal performance in the Bihar Assembly polls. BJP was routed in the Bihar polls, where it could only win 53 seats as opposed to JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance storming with 178 seats.
“The parliamentary board has already decided to take up with all the concerned and discuss the shortcomings that led to the defeat in Bihar. That has been the practice,” Mr. Naidu added further when asked about current churning within the party. Defending the party chief Amit Shah, Naidu said he played an important role in strategising the party and organising the campaign during the elections.
“The BJP lost 2004 Parliamentary elections when I was the President, Atalji was the leader. 2009 also we lost to UPA 2 when Advaniji was the leader. We also lost some state Assembly elections” Naidu said.
Hinting that the party has already begun reaching out to the veterans, Minister of Transportation & Highways Nitin Gadkari claimed that the BJP central leadership is discussing with the “veterans” the issues raised by them about the party’s unsatisfactory performance in Bihar polls. At the same time he rejected reports that he demanded “disciplinary action” against those dissenting within the BJP.
On Thursday, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley too had met with senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi, one of the four senior leaders who had issued a strongly-worded statement on Diwali eve, and spent some time at his residence. However, it is yet to known what the two leaders discussed.
Meanwhile, party MPs Manoj Tewari and RK Singh came out supporting the demands raised by veterans seeking the fixing of accountability.
“Accountability has to be fixed. Review should be made of the election debacle. We need to find out what went wrong, who were responsible. That’s what ‘margdarshak mandal’ said,” RK Singh, the MP from Arrah, Bihar said.
Singh, the former Home Secretary, who had joined BJP soon after retiring in 2013, had even spoken out during the assembly polls campaign over the issue of ticket distribution. Blaming his own party, Singh had claimed that BJP gave tickets to people with criminal background.
Whereas, Norh-East Delhi MP Manoj Tewari criticised the party’s election campaign and lauded the strategy of JD(U)-RJD-Congress ‘Grand Alliance’ as “undoubtedly better”.
“We clearly failed to convince people of Bihar on our party’s agenda. Undoubtedly, the strategy of grand alliance (of JDU-RJD-Congress) had been proved better than ours. We could have campaigned in a more strategical way to reach out larger masses,” Tewari said.
A number of Bihar BJP MPs like Shatrughan Sinha, Hukumdev Narayan Yadav and Bhola Singh have criticised the party’s campaign with likes of Sinha and Singh drawing the top party brass in their line of fire.
(With inputs from the PTI)