Attention had been drawn earlier to BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Mr. Narendra Modi’s inexplicable, unprovoked and fierce attacks against regional leaders who can become future allies in the event of the BJP failing to obtain an absolute majority after the polls. Mr. Modi has not spared Miss Mamata Banerjee, Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Mr. Omar Abdullah, Mr. Navin Patnaik and others. The attacks have been couched in personal and hurting terms that the recipients will not forget in a hurry.
For instance, Mr. Modi went out of his way to attack Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the clear front runner in the Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh, by calling him and his mother corrupt scamsters. He launched these vicious attacks while his party colleagues sought to woo the same regional leaders. The question is why Mr. Modi is pursuing his singular aggression.
That mystery is solved if media reports are to be believed. After interviewing senior BJP leaders, journalists reported that Mr. Modi’s loyalists within the BJP are determined that only he must become Prime Minister. Failing to get an absolute majority, the party must sit in the opposition. No other BJP leader must be allowed to become PM. The Economic Times reported:
“The Narendra Modi camp in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is of the view that even in the worst-case scenario, with the National Democratic Alliance that it leads falling short of a majority and needing post-poll allies, there will be no compromise on the prime ministerial candidate and he will either occupy the top post or the party will sit in the opposition.”
After the extraordinarily strenuous one-man campaign undertaken by Mr. Modi, this sentiment is understandable, though wholly unjustified. It betrays total lack of commitment to the party’s interest.
The signs of this division within the BJP had surfaced earlier. When a TV channel opined that in the event of a hung parliament BJP President Mr. Rajnath Singh could be the dark horse for becoming MP, Mr. Modi’s trusted confidant Mr. Amit Shah heading the UP poll campaign, dramatically diverted the campaign agenda from economic development to communal polarization. This made things difficult for Mr. Rajnath Singh who has substantial Muslim votes in his constituency, Lucknow. It required considerable effort by him to woo Muslim voters. Alas, his seeming success brought fresh troubles for him. After a Muslim Cleric praised him and compared him to Mr. Vajpayee, who fought from the same constituency last election and had received support from Muslim voters, Mr. Modi apparently got alarmed.
According to media reports he conveyed his displeasure to Mr. Rajnath Singh. He refused to campaign in Lucknow. Mr. Rajnath Singh thereupon issued a statement that in no circumstance would he join the government but would remain only party president. He invited Mr. Modi to campaign in his constituency. Mr. Modi endorsed Mr. Rajnath Singh on Twitter but did not campaign in Lucknow. All this account is sifted only from media reports and this writer has no way of vouching for its accuracy. But one considers it only because in the most largely addressed poll campaign in election history it was a hugely glaring omission for Mr. Modi to not campaign in the constituency of his party’s President.
In this background Mr. Modi’s attacks on regional leaders may thus be seen as efforts to prevent any support to the BJP in case it does not get absolute majority and some other colleague might emerge as a compromise candidate for the PM’s post. This interpretation would hold good only if certain media reports, uncontradicted thus far, prove accurate. But if this interpretation does have substance, what does it say about the internal conditions in the BJP and the approach of its Prime Ministerial candidate? It recalls an old Urdu couplet: Hum to doobey hain sanam, hum tumko bhi le doobenge! (I am drowning, sweetheart, but I will make you drown too!)