The turmoil and discontent in the Bharatiya Janata Party deepened further on Monday as Arun Shourie, senior leader and MP, made an all-out attack on party president Rajnath Singh, calling him “Alice in Blunderland” and describing the party leadership as “Humpty Dumpty.” He did not spare the Leader of the Opposition, L.K. Advani, either.
Coming five days after the expulsion of Jaswant Singh, the “shock” delivered on NDTV channel by Mr. Shourie — who complained that no action had been taken by Mr. Rajnath Singh on a letter he had written to him confidentially — is expected to lead to yet another high-profile exit from the party. Some party leaders said Mr. Shourie’s expulsion was imminent but a decision would be taken only after carefully reading the transcript of his interview.
The reference to “Humpty Dumpty” was from Through the Looking-Glass, a sequel by Lewis Carroll to Alice in Wonderland. Just as Alice expected Humpty Dumpty to fall at any time, in the BJP, almost at all levels, leaders are expecting the “fall” of Mr. Rajnath Singh, whose tenure comes to an end in January 2010. There is also speculation on Mr. Advani’s exit after the recent observation by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat that a generational change in the party’s leadership was necessary. Mr. Bhagwat’s interview added to the uncertainty, BJP leaders said.
Mr. Advani, however, is recently on record he would complete his five-year tenure.
There were reports that even as the infighting in the BJP intensified, Mr. Bhagwat was planning to hold a press conference later this week.
“Follow Mao example”
Mr. Shourie suggested that the party follow the example of Chairman Mao Zedong, who had said at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution: “Bombard the headquarters.” Mr. Shourie explained that the entire BJP leadership at the centre should be thrown out and replaced by “good” leaders from the States. The RSS should “take over” the party as the BJP leadership had lost moral authority, which the RSS enjoyed.
On the other hand, Mr. Jaswant Singh earlier described the RSS as a “shadowy organisation” and said no political party could afford to be dictated to by such an outfit.
Mr. Shourie alleged that Mr. Rajnath Singh and Mr. Advani were leaking confidential matters to the press through “six” journalists — while he and some others were being charged with indiscipline.
Mr. Shourie also said that Mr. Advani had “agreed” to the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s suggestion that Narendra Modi be dropped as Gujarat Chief Minister after the 2002 riots, but later back-tracked. There was virtually a “coup” to “thwart” Mr. Vajpayee and let Mr. Modi keep his job. He bemoaned the change that had overtaken BJP after the “withdrawal” of Mr. Vajpayee.
Mr. Shourie described the BJP as kati patang, a kite that is adrift with no control over its movement and is directionless and up for grabs.
Mr. Shourie’s attack is a continuation of the loud complaints by senior leaders that some in the party — the reference was to Arun Jaitley — had been “rewarded” for mismanagement of the election campaign. The “reward” was the position of Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Since then there has been an all-out effort to ensure that he does not get the position of party president when Mr. Rajnath Singh’s tenure come to an end in January 2010.