The repercussions of the BJP’s loss in Bihar continued to unfold on Wednesday with some senior leaders of the party, including Union Minister for Roads and Highways, Nitin Gadkari and general secretary Ram Madhav, springing to the defence of party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the face of severe criticism of the two by veterans L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar.
Mr. Gadkari, first in a joint statement issued by him and other former presidents of the party, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu and later by himself said the party stood behind Mr. Shah and Mr. Modi. “Our party is a party of workers and when we win or lose, everyone takes credit and responsibility,” he said in Nagpur.
He said the party would take action against leaders making irresponsible statements on the loss in Bihar, but that the “elders” in the party would be spoken to.
Mr. Madhav said the points raised by the veterans would be discussed but that “they are senior to us and what should be discussed at which forum is better known to them.”
This distinction made between party MPs like Bhola Singh who held Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah responsible for the debacle as well as other MPs such as Shatrughan Sinha and R.K. Singh and the party elders points to the fact that there are levels of dissatisfaction with Mr. Shah’s leadership that need to be addressed.
Top sources in the party who spoke to The Hindu said that while there was no immediate danger to Mr. Shah’s position, “people like Murli Manohar Joshi could not have been signatories to such a statement without some support from the RSS.”
As the after shocks from the Bihar poll temblor continued to be felt in the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday, the parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, appeared a little upset that its chief Mohan Bhagwat was blamed by Bihar MP Hukum Deo Nararyan Yadav for the loss over the former’s comment that there was a need to review the system of reservation in government jobs.
“The Bihar loss is important not just because it followed Delhi but that it showed that the party leadership hadn’t learnt anything from the loss in Delhi and remained in the grip of Mr. Shah and his abrasive cronies,” said a senior leader in the party who did not wish to be named.
“The comments by the seniors are not so important as the fact that for the first time there has been a public articulation against the clique that runs the party,” he said. He was clear that the articulation was not so much aimed at the Prime Minister but at Mr. Shah, whose term as party president comes up for review in December.
“In the immediate aftermath of the Delhi poll there was a feeling that a major reason for the loss was the sidelining of State unit leaders and more importantly party workers, and that workers imported from other States had been deployed in the campaign. The same was repeated in Bihar,” said the source.
A group of MPs from Uttar Pradesh led by Bhola Singh of Ballia, will be taking out a march to protest the statement by the group of veterans on Thursday.