MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh ‘Champion’, presently of the BJP, has been on a rant over the past several days regarding a number of issues. This culminated in a press conference on Tuesday that basically thumbed its nose against his party and the conventional norms. Coming at a politically sensitive time, the BJP scrambled to contain the damage by disassociating itself from his comments, describing them as his ‘personal opinion’. Even so, it is now in a quandary because, on a number of issues it needs to undertake disciplinary proceedings, yet, it has to be done in a way that does not have larger political repercussions.
It may be recalled that before the Rajasthan assembly elections, Champion had pitched for a bigger role claiming he had clout with the Gujjar community of that state. It had gone unheeded. Now, that Rajasthan will be voting again for its representatives to the Lok Sabha, he is possibly sending a message to those he believes would respond from among various social groups.
If one deconstructs what he has been saying, there are some clear streams of thought. There is the disparagement of Mahatma Gandhi, which must be music to the hardcore RSS and Hindu Mahasabha types, who believe that Godse had acted with justification. The rise of the BJP has brought such people more into the mainstream and many of them have considerable clout within the party. They are likely to view Champion as a kindred soul and back him for a larger role in the future.
Champion also seems to be wooing the Dalits, by asking for Dr Ambedkar to be declared the father of the nation because he was chairman of the drafting committee of the Constitution. It would be a promotion from being the Father of the Constitution to the Father of the Nation. Again, there are some radical Dalit groups that would find resonance with this thought, even if they would be doubtful about where it is coming from.
Champion is counting on the BJP being afraid of alienating such groups if it takes action against him on these issues. It could take umbrage at Champion’s targeting of another BJP MLA, Dinesh Karnwal, in public. However, Karnwal, too, has not been exactly an example of disciplined behaviour in the past. He is also being accused of using a fake caste certificate, which needs to be examined. As such, the party leadership cannot be seen as taking sides. There any number of past incidents that could have short-circuited Champion’s political career if timely action had been taken, but those remain missed opportunities. At the present, the BJP will have to swallow the bitter pill and bide its time. With Champion, they can be sure, opportunities will come again.