Dear BJP, suspending Kirti Azad is nothing but a hara-kiri

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Arvind Kejriwal set the cat among the pigeons and the BJP, which even a year-and-half-ago, looked an unstoppable force, was humbled by the former, twice inside a year (remember the drubbing the saffron party had received in the February election in Delhi).

Ten months since that humiliation, the BJP was left in a spot by the Aam Aadmi Party convenor by raking up the issue of corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association, in retaliation to CBI raids against one of his bureaucrats. Just like an eye for an eye, Kejriwal countered the raids with the DDCA allegations and the BJP, quite surprisingly, just fell apart.

Kirti Azad

Or why would have it resorted to such measures of suspending a long-serving MP like Kirti Azad after he took on Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley? Even for the most loyal of BJP supporters, this move was no less than a political hara-kiri.

BJP's widening fault lines have come out in the open

The widening fault lines in the BJP that came out in the open following the Azad-Jaitley episode will certainly create huge problems for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even if he feels that the finance minister would come out of this with flying colours. With elections due in four states where the BJP is not known to be a big player, the current ruckus will do the party a great disservice. And all this happened just after Kejriwal turned the gun around on the BJP.

Individuals have become bigger than the party?

The BJP's threat comes from the fact that a few individuals are perceived to have grown bigger than the party. This is something unprecedented in the party which proudly calls itself as a party with a difference.

For even when it was headed by the two towering leaders in Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, personality cults weren't a threat to it. Advani had even come out clean from Hawala charges in the mid-1990s and the party had never had to face any ugly consequence.

On the contrary, that Advani had quit to prove his political credibility is still being cited as a benchmark.

Is BJP's top leadership feeling insecure?

But today, the BJP's new breed of leadership perhaps feel insecure (as there is a rising number of dissenting voices) and as a result, like in the dynasty-centric parties in the country, shows little concern for internal democracy. This is a dangerous trend for the saffron party and wouldn't serve it well.

Although Modi is still the man who is expected to produce a magic, the two other leaders of the triumvirate of today's BJP-Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley-face serious challenges to their credibility. Incidentally, both have met the decisive challenges from Bihar.

Couldn't the BJP have dealt with Azad in a way that wouldn't have made Kejriwal a proud opponent? Soon after Jaitley suing the Delhi CM, Azad was suspended and all these episodes gave enough reason to the opponents, including some foes in the party, to back each other, adding to the BJP's problems in the process.

BJP must understand that centralising tendencies will not help it

Suspending Azad also shows in a way the BJP's growing tendency towards centralisation. The likes of Azad and Shatrughan Sinha need to be seen as local pillars of a party which hasn't yet succeeded in spreading its organisation nationally, in the true sense of the term. Ignoring Sinha before and during the Bihar Assembly polls was a move that backfired.

Now, suspending an MP who is serving his third term just because he had raised some uncomfortable questions is also going to hurt the BJP's campaign for a clean image. The dissent in the party just cannot be tamed by using coercion from the top. The BJP should understand it from seeing the Congress's experience over the decades.

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