Indian Democracy at Cross-roads 5: Narendra Modi clears way for him by sidetracking BJP Veterans

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By Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

India is due to face one of the greatest challenges within few weeks when 81.45 crores of voters will cast their votes in the general election to elect 543 members of the sixteenth Lok Sabha. The general election will be held in nine phases, the longest election in the country’s history, from 7 April to 12 May 2014. Voting will take place in all 543 parliamentary constituencies of India. The result of this election will be declared on 16 May 2014, before the 15th Lok Sabha completes its constitutional mandate on 31 May 2014.


There is a lot of speculation all-around regarding the possible outcome of the general election. It seems that the wind is clearly blowing in the direction of the Narendra Modi led BJP and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which is predicted to sweep the polls whereas the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is being written off as the party and alliance that is doomed to utter failure.


In spite of these predictions, one cannot underestimate the regional parties who collectively can topple the applecart of the NDA by coming together on a common platform in the form of a Third Front. But one cannot forget the previous experiments with such a possibility as each of the regional leaders entertain an ambition of becoming Prime Minister. Hence, their efforts would be to win the maximum number of seats so that they could have bargaining power to put forward their own claim for the Prime Ministerial Chair.


A lot of churning is going on in the political ocean as alliances are being formed and disgruntled ticket-losers in one party jumping the bandwagon of other parties. As winning is the prime ‘mantra’ of all political parties, they are in the process of fielding candidates with criminal background and corrupt practices. The general election of 2014 has been generating a lot of heat and dust. As such it would be interesting to be a witness to the historical event by understanding the forces and personalities that shape the future of this great country. would bring out analytical articles by experts on the forthcoming elections that would provide insight into the historical general election of 2014. 

- Team



Udupi, 29 Mar  2014 : Narendra Modi did not hide his intention of bypassing veteran leaders of his party, either at the state or national level in an attempt to consolidate his hold over the government in Gujarat and his endeavour to form the next government at Delhi. In Gujarat, veteran  BJP leaders such as Kesubhai Patel whom Modi succeeded as the Chief Minister of the state in 2001 following the fallout from the January earthquake that killed around 20,000 people, were forced to go into oblivion. Since then , Modi went on consolidating his position on the state machinery and party  for the last fourteen years that fired his ambition to capture the power at the centre and got himself nominated as the Prime Ministerial candidate on 13 September 2013 for the general elections  that would take place in April/May 2014.


Narendra Modi

As in the case of Gujarat, Modi has been carefully building up his persona beyond anybody’s challenge at the national level. The veteran leader  LK Advani had been in the race for the Prime Ministership since he was instrumental in catapulting the BJP from a mere 2 member party in the Lok Sabha to a dominant political force through his Rathayatras  and other  methods such as raking up ‘Hindutva’ ideology, had missed his ‘bus’ when moderate Atal Behari Vajpayee was preferred  over him  twice-once in  1996 when the NDA government lasted only for  13 days, and again from March 1998 to May 2004. He wanted to try his luck in the forthcoming general elections as the Congress has been perceived to lose heavily. However, Narendra Modi played his cards cleverly and got himself declared as the next Prime Ministerial candidate.


The schism in the BJP party started right from the time of the declaration of Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 election.  Advani earlier had claimed that BJP should not declare its PM candidate till the assembly elections which were due in five states - Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Mizoram were over. Other BJP leaders such as Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi, who too had opposed the announcement, later changed their decisions and backed Modi.



Harin Pathak and MM Joshi


The ticket distribution and selection of constituencies, especially related to the veteran BJP leaders has made it amply clear how Modi has been systematically aiming to bypass the old guard.  Being apprehensive of his possible defeat if he chose to contest from his traditional constituency, Gandhinagar which he had represented  five times, wanted to shift to Bhopal with a hope that he might win it comfortably with the support of  Shivraj Chauhan, the chief minister of MP who has soft corner for Advani. However, on the insistence of Modi,  Advani was forced to seek re-election from Gandhinagar by denying him the pleasure of contesting from the constituency of his choice.  As if this humiliation was not enough, in an attempt to rub salt on the wound, Harin Pathak, one of the staunch loyalists of Advani was denied ticket from Ahmadabad East constituency  which he had represented six times earlier. Paresh Rawal, a film actor has been nominated from this constituency. Incidentally, Paresh Rawal is playing the role of Modi  in a biopic based on the life of Narendra Modi. On the other hand, another veteran leader-Murli Manohar Joshi who had represented the  Varanasi  constituency  for the last five years has been forced to vacate it for Narendra Modi and seek re-election from Kanpur.


LK Advani


While Advani and Joshi meekly submitted to be in the electoral race while eating the humble pie of being humiliated by denying the constituencies of their choice, another veteran leader, Jaswant Singh who was denied the ticket to contest from his native Barmer constituency has filed his nomination as an independent candidate and has dared the BJP to expel him from the party.  Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj did not hide her unhappiness towards the denial of the party ticket to Jaswant Singh. She expressed her feelings saying that she was "pained" at the party’s decision to deny a Lok Sabha ticket for party veteran Jaswant Singh.


Sushma Swaraj


On the other hand, Sushma Swaraj has had her own share of humiliation. She has been quite uneasy with the rapid rise of Modi in the party hierarchy and has been feeling that she was systematically  sidelined in the party. Earlier, she  had shown her displeasure in not only re-admitting tainted Karnataka leaders, former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu-confidant of Bellary mining barons-Reddy Brothers who had earlier deserted the party and had established their own political outfits, but also granting them party tickets to contest the forthcoming election.  It is only a matter of time when the likes of Advani, MM Joshi and Sushma Swaraj will be shown their place even if they win their seats and BJP at the head of the NDA forms the next government at Delhi.


These are only the few of the top BJP veteran leaders who have been ‘cut to size’ so that Modi could rise above all in the party. There are many veteran parliamentarians who have been denied tickets. There is a lot of bitterness among the old-guard that by denying them tickets, the party has not accommodated the genuine party workers, but has considered those who had defected from other political parties such as Col. Sonaram Choudhari, the former Congress leader who was given ticket at the expense of Jaswant Singh.  In a race to capture power at Delhi, BJP, considered to be a ‘party with difference’ has fallen in the trap of ‘winning at any cost’.


Jaswant Singh


Narendra Modi is quite aware that the veterans have become a spent force and after initial sulking and making empty noise they will fall in line that too with shrunken ego or  consider their ‘retirement’. These BJP veterans, except Jaswant Singh still feel that they would have some share in the pie of the government once Modi captures the Prime Minister’s chair at Delhi.


However, Narendra Modi has his own game-plan when he comes to power. He feels that in the new disposition, the BJP veterans would be a stumbling block as they had already manifested their displeasure when his name was announced as the Prime Ministerial candidate earlier. He knows very well that even after election, they might demand the strategic and important ministries which would embarrass Modi. Hence, the possibility is that things may work out in a way that some of these veterans may lose their election, for the fear of which Advani wanted to shift to Bhopal.


The treatment that has been meted out by Narendra Modi to BJP veterans has been compared with Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s struggle with the Congress veterans known as Syndicate in the second half of 1960 decade. As in the case of Modi, Mrs. Indira Gandhi had to face the stiff opposition of the Syndicate when she wanted to bring about change which challenged the vested interests of the landlords and big business. The tussle between the Syndicate and supporters of Mrs. Indira Gandhi which was known as ‘Indicate’ eventually led to the split in the Congress.


Narendra Modi is more or less in the same position as Mrs. Indira Gandhi was in the Congress. Mrs. Indira Gandhi not only wanted to bring about drastic changes in the existing socio-economic-political order, but also was keen to impose her authority over the party. There is no secret that Modi has authoritarian streak in his approach towards governance. He also wants to bring about drastic socio-economic and political changes and in this task he would be comfortable with his own supporters and those who would not challenge his policies and actions.


However, unlike in the case of Congress in later part of 1960s, BJP does not have many veteran stalwarts who could jointly challenge Narendra Modi and force a split in the party as had happened in the case of the Congress party. Modi would be happy to gradually sideline the veterans and silence their voice and blunt their opposition rather than splitting the party which would be laborious and counterproductive.


As there are lessons to be learnt from history and as I would always say, those who know  history can understand the present  in a better way, and those who know the present can  understand history, I would like the readers and those who are the keen observers of present political scenario to read the next episode about  the challenges faced by Mrs. Indira Gandhi from the Syndicate and the first major split in the Indian national Congress.



ALso Read






Comments on this Article
Philip Mudatha, Nerul Sat, March-29-2014, 12:44

The balance of power in the internal strife within BJP, I call it a civil war, has definitely shifted in favor of Modi. The remnant resistance is being mopped up in post-battle skirmishes. However, we would do well to remember that history teaches us that a new war is born out of a decisive victory in a battle. In 1984, Kanshi Ram, founder of BSP coined the slogan ’Tilak, Taraju aur Talwar, inko maro joote char.’ To counter the open secret of that Modi is not yet big enough to be free from T-3, he coined a new slogan T-5. I am afraid the drastic socio-economic and political changes he is impatiently waiting to bring about by becoming our PM by copying Indira Gandhi style, will put him in conflict with the T-3 as Syndicate of BJP and his T-5 symbols of Modicate...RSS has a lot to be afraid of Modi, as I have said in my article. Rajanath will end up as Kamraj of INC of 1950-70 era...remember him?

Jithesh, Belle Fri, March-28-2014, 11:22

Very intersting to read the how Modi succeeded by sidelining other prominent leaders within his party. Good write up by Dr. Eugene.

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