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BJP survives, because it's ready to face elections - The Times of India

Ambikanand Sahay ()
July 23, 1998

Title: BJP survives, because it's ready to face elections
Author: Ambikanand Sahay
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 23, 1998

Despite the Cauvery bomb having been set ticking by the ever
mercurial Jayalalitha, the Vajpayee government has survived.
Chances are that the government will continue to survive, and
even remain alive and kicking.

There are three main reasons as to why the government may not
fall in the foreseeable future despite the contradictions of
coalition politics.

First, members of the Lok Sabha do not want fresh elections.
Secondly, contrary to what one sees at the apex level politics in
Delhi, the BJP is growing strong at the grassroots level. And
finally, Sonia Gandhi, who has been refusing to bite the bait
>from Jayalalitha, is proving to be the biggest stabilising factor
in favour of the Vajpayee government.

It is no longer a secret that the moment the Vajpayee government
feels truly threatened, the BJP would pull out its election card
>from up its sleeve. Kushabhau Thakre's party knows that, at the
moment, it is one up against its adversaries at the ground level
in the key states both in the North and South.

Take for instance the scenario in Uttar Pradesh, where the party
has activated as many 71,735 local units. The office bearers of
these local units keep themselves in touch with block level and
district level party chiefs who, in turn, take guidance from the
state party president, Rajnath Singh.

It should surprise no one that Mr Singh has already written over
a million letters to party functionaries and sympathizers in
different parts of this far-flung State from Badrinath to Ballia.
Electoral politics is fought on the strength of party workers.
And, BJP workers seem to be in an upbeat mood despite the all too
apparent weaknesses of the Central and State governments.

In sharp contrast, the Congress looks like a demoralised,
disjointed, and even dead organisation at the grassroots level in
Uttar Pradesh which sends eighty-five representatives to the Lok
Sabha. Congressmen are reported to be fighting petty ego battles
among themselves rather than exposing the failures of the
Vajpayee and Kalyan Singh's governments. Law and order has never
been worse than what you now see in Kalyan Singh's UP.

Prices are sky-rocketing and essential services such as
electricity and water have been hit. Sitting in Lucknow, one
gets the impression that the jumbo sized council of ministers is,
at best, a passive onlooker to the fast deteriorating state of
affairs. Still, the BJP is on up on all its rivals.

The situation is, more or less, the same in neighbouring Bihar.
The Congress here too is a dead force. The only challenge that
the BJP faces in these two States, UP and Bihar, comes from the
two Yadavas - Mulayam Singh and Laloo. And, to a lesser extent,
the Bahujan Samaj Party. The point that goes in the BJP's favour
is that Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi party and Kanshi Ram's
BSP have yet to reach some credible understanding to beat their
common rival, i.e. the BJP

Ground level political reality in ,the South as well does not
provide a comforting picture for anti-BJP forces except in
Kerala. Thanks to the continuous irritants provided by Ms
Jayalalitha, the BJP has come closer to the DMK through sheer
default. Those who understand the nuances of Tamil Nadu politics
know it for certain that BJP would align itself with Mr
Karunanidhi's DMK once the AIADMK pulls out of the Vajpayee
government. The flexibility of the BJP was demonstrated earlier
in Andhra Pradesh where the saffron brigade lost no time in
tagging itself on to Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam. Lakshmi
Parvathi was left high and dry in the name of pragmatic politics.
As for Karnataka the BJP is already a force to reckon with there.

Little wonder then that when Jayalalitha delivered her latest
threat, few people took it seriously in the South block. Perhaps,
the people who matter there were well aware of the BJP's two-
pronged strategy. Survive as long as you can and when you can't,
go to the people. It is not that forces in the Opposition do not
know the saffron party's strategy. This is what explains Sonia
Gandhi's continued silence over the issue of giving encouragement
to those who want to pull down the government.

All overtures by different opposition parties have more or less
been turned down by 10 Janpath, where the thinking is that a weak
BJP in government is less dangerous than a strong BJP in
opposition. Moreover, should elections be thrust upon the country
at this point of time, the Congress "may not gain anything. It
has first to set its own house in order.

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