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Is the BJP running out of steam, or are these just minor hiccups ?




For some time now, the BJP has been a party that is clearly in the front. There is a huge amount of anti-incumbency in the country, and the BJP has been capitalizing on that feeling. Narendra Modi has been showing the development of Gujarat as a model for the rest of the country, as a model which shows what a tough and non-corrupt administrator can do, and as a result, when people have been seeing the lack of development and policy paralysis that has gripped the country under the Congress, this model of Modi seems like a model that is very attractive. Due to this, there is a groundswell of support of the BJP, which could be seen in the states that went to poll in the latter half of 2013, and the results were devastating to the Congress. These results in turn, further increased the morale of the BJP, and deepened the gloom of the Congress and its workers.
One of the major problems of the BJP was that it had almost no allies, only the Shiv Sena and the Akalis were the allies who remained in place. This status over the past few years started to get reversed in the last couple of months, with potential allies treating the party no longer as a untouchable, getting more allies for the BJP. This was a big morale booster for the BJP, and it was again a credit to Modi, since he was supposed to be the reason why the BJP was not getting allies, and instead, his support was causing parties to ally with the BJP. Another indicator for the party being seen as a winner is the movement of politicians from other parties to the BJP, and this is a movement that is happening more and more, and some of those who are moving are those who you would not have expected in terms of this movement (people such as Ramkripal Yadav (close associate of Laloo Prasad Yadav), Satpal Maharaj (major Congress leader from Uttarakhand), and the alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan in Bihar, and many other such movements). In Gujarat itself, the Congress seemed on the edge of decimation.
With all this, there is always the worry that things have peaked too early, or that things can only get worse for the BJP from this point. However, at this point of time, it does not seem that the BJP has yet reached a peak, but there are worrying signs for the party, that it is being seen more and more as a party that is so intent to push for power that it will make any compromises. And the media and other parties are just waiting for any such kind of problems, and all of these will be highlighted.
One major problems that all major parties face is about the projection of dedicated workers vs. entrants from other parties. When you attract a leader from another party, that transition gives a morale boost since it means that people in other parties are getting disillusioned, and hence parties will encourage it. But such a transfer does not happen without its problems – typically the new entrant is promised something to come to the party, and in many such cases, the person is promised a party ticket. When this happens, the existing workers, typically the ones who have been working hard and looking hard to get such a ticket, are shocked and in many cases get very angry. This is also true when the parties bring in people from outside to be the local candidate, which can have the same problem to the local workers. And the BJP has seen many examples of such movements, such as Kiron Kher, General VK Singh, Rao Inderjit Singh, and numerous others.
The party is also starting to show many other signs of internal dissidence, specifically related to pushing around seniors. Modi is junior to many of the elders of the party, people such as Murli Manohar Joshi, LK Advani, Jaswant Singh, Lalji Tandon, and numerous others, and in many such cases, the new leader has to show his leadership by ensuring that the leaders know who is the boss. And this is what has been seen playing in the public attention. The seats and ambitions of all these senior member of the party have seen a huge amount of dissension, with all these details playing out in the public. Some have accepted, but Jaswant Singh is on the way out of the party, in a huge public spectacle of him breaking down; and yet it is clear that there is very little sympathy in the current leadership of the party.
And this ability to strike alliances with other parties is also leading to a loss of reputation of the party, with the difference between the BJP and the Congress becoming more blurred. Who would have thought just a few months back that the party would be close enough to parties such as Ram Vilas Paswan, take back Yeddyruppa, try and make peace with the Reddy brothers in Karnataka, negotiate with Venod Sharma and almost make a deal with Chautala in Haryana, and so on. These deals may be necessary for the BJP in order to get some more votes, and all of these count, but there is a loss in reputation for the party in aligning with many of these parties and leaders. The party has also made some huge mistakes such as taking in such people such as Pramod Muthalik, the leader of the Sri Ram Sene, and it was only after a huge media backlash that the party realized it is making a mistake and cancelled the membership of this far-right leader (and this caused many of the middle class supporters of the party to think clearly about what supporting the BJP might mean). In addition, it has opened itself to attack on the corruption front again.
The result of all of these different factors is that the BJP is still seeing a momentum, but there are many chinks showing up, and if these continue, the party can see its forward momentum getting blocked and maybe even seeing a loss. However, it still needs to pick up as many allies as possible in order to ensure that it can reach the target of 272 seats in the Lok Sabha.




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