Electoral debacles in two prestigious battles in Delhi and Bihar in 2015 and one non-electoral debacle in Uttarakhand in 2016 and forecasts not looking much favourable for May 19 when results of four state elections will come out---it seems Amit Shah's journey as the BJP president is becoming difficult.
Following his out-of-the-world success in the Lok Sabha election two years ago, including the show in UP, and the decent shows in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand in the months that followed---Shah looked the man in whose hands the saffron party looked safe and ready to deliver whenever the call came. [Uttarakhand: BJP's rudderless ship sank without a trace]
Just like Nitish came back in Bihar, Harish came back in U'khand; and that too, before the election
Now, with Modi about to complete his second year in the office, it seems Shah's story is reaching its conclusion fast. His strategies in Uttarakhand to hasten the process of uprooting the Congress from India's soil have backfired, just his ploy to uproot Nitish Kumar in Bihar had in October last year.
And in both cases, Shah did big favours to his adversaries by allowing them to return even stronger. While Nitish came back into the reckoning, compared to the brink he was pushed to in the Lok Sabha election of 2014; Harish came back even before Uttarakhand went to its scheduled election next year. [Harish chairs first Cabinet meeting after floor test]
BJP's ploy of backing dissenters is a hopeless one
Shah's moves are failing to earn the BJP any returns because they are not backed with quality thinking. The BJP chief is more eager in stoking the flames of grievance against the adversaries. In case of Nitish Kumar, Shah had predicted to divide the JD(U) by playing the Jitan Ram Majhi card. In the case of Harish, he sought to take advantage of the Congress's internal feud.
But in both cases, Shah's plans boomeranged and Nitish and Harish returned with the last laugh. In fact, the BJP even helped them eliminate their headaches in the dissenters and rebels. Even BSP supremo Mayawati proved to be a collateral beneficiary from the Uttarakhand episode ahead of the UP election next year. [Harish Rawat wins trust vote: SC okays his return]
Why can't BJP do something better than what regional parties with limited scope do?
Being a national party and aspiring to rule the country for a long period of time after seeing the end of the Congress, the BJP needs to focus on nurturing its own leadership at the grassroots level and not encourage dissenters in other parties. That ploy is something that regional parties undertake since they are seriously limited in terms of the political culture. Why should the BJP take a similar short cut when it is already known to be a national party?
More elections are lined up till 2019 and Shah's time is running out
The Uttarakhand episode has also galvanised the Opposition as the Congress, AAP and Left have been expressing their pleasure over the BJP's loss of face in the hilly state. The BJP needs to keep in mind that the fallout of such palace coups will be far more ominous than what it was during the days of Nehru (read fall of first communist government in Kerala in late 1950s). A series of state polls are coming up till the country gets ready for the 2019 Lok Sabha election and Shah has very little time to change his course of action.
BJP will have to face a fresh succession problem: After Modi, who?
The BJP now requires to take care of the fact that it has a weak support team. The same was the case when the towering duo of Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani were at the helm. It was after losses in two consecutive Lok Sabha election in 2004 and 2009 that Narendra Modi emerged in the ranks as the saffron party's post-Vajpayee era [even Advani was eclipsed in the wave]. But since politics is a continuous process, the BJP needs to ensure that more credible leadership comes up after Modi if it hopes to run its show.
Delhi, Bihar and Uttarakhand showed that the BJP's 'talent-spotting' exercise is not going anywhere and its national president is finding himself clueless.