The political upheaval in Maharashtra has once again shown how BJP has clearly moved on from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee – L K Advani era to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi- Amit Shah era. Vajpayee was Prime Minister for three terms – first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, followed by a full term from 1999 to 2004.
The reason why it is pertinent to point out the Vajpayee tenure is that in all the three terms even when the likes of HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral who succeeded him as Prime Minister , Vajpayee and the BJP played the waiting game and let the ruling dispensation collapse under its its contradictions at the Centre. Whereas as far as states go one does not recall the number of non- BJP states government’s were toppled under Vajpayee’s watch. A narrative and stance that earned him kudos and popularity as a Prime Minister. And such was the people’s love and affection that a slogan was aptly coined for him Bari Bari Sabki Bari, Abki Bari Atal Bihari. Clearly BJP had moved on .
Now cut down to the Modi- Shah reign since 2014 . BJP appears a ruthless , aggressive party eager to capture power when rivals show little signs of vulnerability . With narrative like Congress Mukt Bharat on their lips , opposition parties even after winning elections are on their toes. BJP’s aggression saw them topple Congress government’s in Goa, Karnataka, Manipur , Madhya Pradesh , Arunachal Pradesh and now likely Maharashtra ( where Congress is in alliance with Shiv Sena, NCP) .
Rajasthan too is on the BJP radar after they lost the polls in 2018. And these BJP operations to target opposition government have a nickname ‘Operation Lotus’. BJP has at slight pre-text wasted no time in pointing the blame of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for all the ills and has been quick to retort to opposition jibes on governance by reminding people of the emergency imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1975 to back their actions and point out the number of state government’s that were dismissed by Congress government at the centre by using Article 356 .
The BJP belligerence has rattled the opposition and Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha ,Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury recently told ANI about BJP’s prime goal ahead , BJP’s goal is to capture entire India. If an opposition party speaks against them, they don’t tolerate it. They’re walking the path of building an ‘oppn-free India’. First they said ‘Congress-mukt’ India, now they changed it to ‘vipaksh-mukt’.
Targeting the opposition with ED, CBI has become a norm for the BJP government at the Centre, besides working overtime to topple non- BJP government’s. And when not able to from government have encouraged the dissenting voices -Himanta Biswa Sarma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, RPN Singh, Jitin Prasada (former Congress leaders) and now Eknath Shinde to break away from their party.
Leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge too reportedly said that BJP is using CBI ,ED and other agencies to destabilise non- BJP government’s . Given this brazen aggression, it is indeed laughable to hear BJP spokespersons on various debates on news channels express their desire for democracy’s sake having a strong opposition .
Coming back to the Maharashtra story, it may be recalled that the BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was gutted when the Shiv Sena in 2019 assembly polls with whom they had an alliance did not back his second term dream as Chief Minister by insisting on Shiv Sena Chief Minister . Fadnavis would realise his dream soon though as by a coup / or dramatic turn of events with President Ram Nath Kovind lifting President’s Rule In Maharashtra after waking up at 5: 47 am , and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari i obliging Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as Chief Minister for second time with NCP’s rebel leader Ajit Pawar, nephew of Maratha stalwart and NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Fadnavis gung-ho did not last long though ( the slogan Modi hai to mumkin hai’did make the rounds though) as it fell 80 hours later as Ajit Pawar failed to muster the required numbers. Nobody till now knows what prompted Fadnavis and BJP to take this step that was sharply criticised by all parties. And no channel anchor could muster the courage to ask Fadnavis about the deal with Ajit Pawar.
So stung by Shiv Sena , Congress and NCP, Fadnavis was waiting with every opportunity to get back the Maharashtra government from the start. Palghar Lynching of sadhus, the actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, Allegations of Mumbai police Commissioner Param Bir Singh against home Minister Anil Deshmukh ( in jail for money laundering charges), Nawab Malik ( in jail for alleged D- Gang link to plot of land) , the harassment of actress Kangana Ranaut ( Fadnavis kept mum when she refereed Mumbai as Pok) and in his mission he was was backed 24X7 by news channels who left no stone unturned to turn the heat on the MVA government. As the MVA government is now on the brink of exit , Fadnavis bolstered by Rajya Sabha and MLC wins is widely tipped to return as Chief Minister for the third term .
Eknath Shinde with his audacious rebellion splitting the Shiv Sena indicated he has received moral support by a national party . The hint is clear , the unhappy MLA’s of Shinde were first air-lifted to a Surat , hotel in Gujarat and then to Guwahati in Assam makes it clear to who is behind the sudden implosion in the Shiv Sena. It is no secret the BJP . No matter how they pretend to say that we are adopting a wait and watch approach.
So the lesson from Maharashtra episodeis for the rivals win big like Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, M K Stalin , Pinarayi Vijayan, Naveen Patnaik, Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao to name a few if your government is to be safe.
This new attribute of the BJP has been aptly pointed out by senior Journalist and seasoned political commentator Vir Sanghvi in his recent column as he wrote the these telling lines, It brings home what is fast becoming a central truth of Indian politics. It is not necessary for the BJP to form a government by winning an election. Even if it is defeated (as it was in Madhya Pradesh), it will use pressure and inducements to break the ruling party and try and form a government of its own. Sometimes, the assault on the election verdict fails, as it did in Rajasthan. But all too often, it succeeds.
And this BJP’s attribute is cause of concern as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pointed out over the Maharashtra crisis as she said : “In India, I am in doubt if any democracy works here! Where is democracy? If they bulldoze a democratic government! We want justice for people, for Uddhav Thackeray. After Maharashtra, they will topple the other government.”