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Messy Start

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The BJP’s preparations for the coming 2022 state elections are getting tangled in some unexpected complications. These coincide with the taking over of the state party unit by MLA Bansidhar Bhagat, who is attempting to be a proactive leader and, in the process, ruffling quite a few feathers. The media is happy to project the goings-on as ‘factionalism’ and ‘divisions’. Bhagat, recently, exhorted the party MLAs not to depend on the Modi factor to win their elections for them and, instead, put in some work of their own. As the statement was made publicly, it has provided the opportunity for the media and the opposition to arrive at their own conclusions, none of them favourable to the BJP.

While opposition leaders are claiming this to be an acknowledgement by Bhagat that the Modi wave is fading, it is also being considered an admission that the MLAs have not performed well thus far. A self-goal, to say the least! It was well-intentioned advice, but the words and the context could have been better chosen. Bhagat will need to realise he is no longer speaking for himself, but representing the party’s identity and policies.

Also, the pragmatism displayed in re-inducting expelled MLA Pranav Singh ‘Champion’ has somewhat backfired. A public display of the elation he felt on making it back into the party has brought Champion, once again, under media scrutiny. Politically, he did nothing wrong, but standing through the sunroof of one’s car while it is moving is a technical violation of the law (which requires one to be secured by a seatbelt). In today’s media-enforced social morality, it takes very little to set off a storm. And, displaying his biceps through the car window – oh, the horror of such vanity! So, he has been summoned back to Party Headquarters for his adolescent antics. For those, who were already miffed by earlier alleged statements against hill people – one of the reasons why he had been expelled – it represents the BJP’s disregard for their sentiments.

All those within the party already unhappy because of non-inclusion in the Cabinet and, generally, feeling ignored, such incidents are excellent opportunities to pressure the higher-ups. With the ambitious Aam Aadmi Party promising to be a spoiler in the elections – nobody is sure in whose favour it will impact the votes – it is a full plate for Bhagat to manage. With the ‘Monsoon Session’ of the State Assembly coming up, he will need to settle matters quickly; otherwise there are some mavericks in the party fold that will do their best to embarrass the government, just as they have done in the past.