By Sunil Dang
For the thrice-banned RSS, it will be the ultimate validation when one of their own occupies Rashtrapati Bhavan, a point of immense satisfaction that will follow the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The presidential election must be held before July 25 this year.
During a one-to-one interaction an RSS functionary explained, “For us to have one of our own in Rashtrapati Bhavan is like being twice born, it will make us the real Dwij (Brahmin) of the political system in India. From being shunned and treated as pariahs, we now occupy the apex. All those gangs of leftists and liberals who formed the erstwhile elite have had to give in as we now occupy centre-stage.” This peculiar persecution complex plays in to the very DNA of the RSS which is still hurting at having been banned thrice, once after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
And the Sangh is now in full antagonistic mode and will brook no accommodation or consensus when it comes to the coveted job of President. This also plays to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah’s attitude of not yielding any quarter to the opposition.
This has two implications: there will be a definite contest for the President’s office; and the RSS and BJP have no interest in a candidate supported by all parties to demonstrate a rare unity in polity, as hoped by a small fraction of the BJP which reportedly includes leaders like Sumitra Mahajan and Sushma Swaraj, who, some say, is reportedly in the running herself.
Actually, BJP wants both left and Congress on the same page at least till 2019. Hence, I am not expecting APJ Abul Kalam type candidate for the Raisina Hill from NDA. It’s for sure that Modi-Shah duo would put a presidential nominee that makes non-digestive stuff for both Congress and Left parties. Since, YSRC has announced its support to the NDA presidential nominee and TRS has been sending fillers, pitching united opposition candidate has become difficult. Nitish Kumar skipping the dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi, Mamata meeting Modi and Navin Patnaik not responding to Congress fillers is nothing but metonym of cracks in the Congress bid to pitch united opposition nominee for the Indian Presidency.
However, I would like to remind the readers that BJP won’t antagonize with other regional parties which become evident when Amit Shah postponed his visit to Telangana. Actually, BJP’s objective is to break the Congress-Left ‘secular’ alliance as they are in direct contest in states like Kerala and West Bengal where BJP is emerging as a political force to reckon with. Hence, if both Congress and Left are painted opposing BJP in New Delhi and in major bills tabled in parliamentary proceedings, there are chances of Congress and Left voters shifting towards BJP in Kerala and West Bengal. It was sneaked by Congress West Bengal chief Adhir Ranjan Choudhary when he opposed to Sonia-Mamata meeting in New Delhi to discuss over the united presidential nominee from the opposition. Adhir had warned Sonia Gandhi that Congress-Trinmool bonhomie in New Delhi may confuse the Congress voters in West Bengal and in such a scenario, Congress may lose its vote base to ‘party with difference’ — an indication that Modi-Shah duo has forced the Congress-Left leadership to walk into the trap of BJP and both ‘secular’ did exactly that Modi-Shah wanted from them. Cracks in Kerala over Mani has become evident and the two left parties have reached to a level where they may snap age long ties. Otherwise what could be the reason for CPIM pitching third term for Sitaram Yechury in the Council of States?
So, Congress and Left parties will have to adapt their strategy if they don’t want to lose their vote base in Kerala and West Bengal to the BJP. Now in 2017, they can’t rely on the 2004 strategy when BJP was strictly a North Indian ‘cow belt’ party.