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Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint
Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint

The party with no difference

The inability of the party brass to show the door to its president Nitin Gadkari illustrates how reckless BJP has been

On Thursday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended its months-old boycott of the joint parliamentary committee investigating the 2G spectrum allocation issue. Its end of the boycott was as sudden as its start. Perhaps, it is easy to write off this event as one more quirk in the strange world of Indian politics.

It isn’t. Today, the BJP is a deeply unsettled party. Its internecine conflicts have intensified over the past one year and as 2014 approaches, it is likely that these self-destructive episodes will increase. Jockeying for positions of authority in parties that aspire to power is nothing unusual. But in the BJP, this is happening at a terrible cost. In this infighting, it has lost the ground it had used to challenge the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The inability of the party brass to show the door to its president Nitin Gadkari, who is facing allegations of financial and corporate impropriety, illustrates this point well. For a party that appears to be serious about tackling corruption in public life, the allegations made against Gadkari are sufficient to ask him to quit.

Instead, all manner of “internal investigations", offers of “facing an inquiry" and the like have been made. With each such offer, the party sinks further in public esteem. This is dangerous in these times of civil society activism against corruption. When combined with the assaults from the ruling party, the damage to the BJP has been considerable.

The BJP may now try and find a face-saving option. One possibility could be to deny Gadkari a further term as party president especially as his current term expires soon. That won’t solve its problem. On matter of principle alone, Gadkari should have been axed after the allegations against his Purti group surfaced. The party did not do so.

In all this, the BJP has been reckless. Restoring order to its divided house is not just another party matter. The BJP is also the principal opposition party. Many hope that it will provide better governance at the Centre in case it comes to power in New Delhi. Practical political (read electoral) matters apart, its dangerous compromises on matters of principle should give pause to these hopes. There is increasing danger that a rag-tag coalition of regional parties can form a government at the Centre. For a country reeling under destructive policymaking of the past seven years, that will be tragic. If that happens, it will be in no small measure due to the BJP’s help.

Why is the BJP unable to sort its internal problems?

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