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BJP's Poll Arithmetic on Varun
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
The Varun Gandhi drama gives indication of carefully scripted and calibrated preparation involving several official and non-official actors. The manufactured events and the media hype made Mr. Gandhi the focus of national attention in record short time. Mr. Advani's initial diffidence was replaced by an embarrassing degree of enthusiasm in his support for young Mr. Gandhi. Is the drama unfolding spontaneously or according to a prepared script? If the latter, Mr. Advani clearly was not in the loop to begin with. Is it hard to identify the producer and director of the drama? Suffice it to say that the swelling support among workers and voters for the BJP's new mascot must have impelled rethinking among the BJP poll strategists.
If the drama is indeed through design and not by default, what is the plot, and what is the intended ending? That should not be difficult to fathom. Observe Miss Mayawati's role. Her decision to use the NSA against Mr. Gandhi achieved two results. It further sharpened the BJP's Hindu profile; it enabled the BSP to extend its appeal to the Muslims. This heightened polarization of the vote along communal lines, pitching the BJP against the BSP, could marginalize both Congress and the Samajhwadi Party in UP.
Even in the Byzantine intrigue characterizing Indian politics is a tacit understanding between BJP and BSP possible? And if it is, how will it benefit the BJP after the polls? Ms Sushma Swaraj let the cat out of the bag by stating quite realistically that after the polls the NDA may be short of numbers and would require new partners. She was lambasted for this by politicians and media stuck on the false notion that stating the truth hurts propaganda. If the NDA does indeed obtain the 230 seats for which it is struggling, how will it make up the numbers? Miss Mayawati and Miss Jayalalithaa are the obvious first choices to approach. But after the bitterness created between the BJP and BSP on the Varun drama is rapprochement at all possible?
Of course it is! In fact it is the oldest political confidence trick to hoodwink the voters. Recall early Punjab before NDA was created. The Akalis and Jan Sangh tore into each other during polls to consolidate their respective Sikh and Hindu vote banks. They made a coalition government after the polls. That was how Congress lost Punjab.
It might also be observed that Miss Mayawati's style of functioning changed noticeably after she got forward caste advisers led by Mr. Satish Mishra. She started reading out from a prepared script in her speeches and press conferences. She succeeded in forging an alliance with Brahmins thanks to Mr. Mishra. The latter as a distinguished lawyer could also have been of great advantage as adviser to Miss Mayawati in the various court cases that have dogged her. Before joining the BSP Mr. Mishra was the Advocate General of Uttar Pradesh. He had been appointed to that post with the blessing of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who was in office then.
It would be reckless of course to attempt any post poll surmise. But it would be best to keep a very open mind. Anything is possible.
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