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  Opinion   Columnists  11 Oct 2023  Sunil Gatade | Brash boys of BJP: Will Bidhuri, Biren, Bhushan call shots in 2024?

Sunil Gatade | Brash boys of BJP: Will Bidhuri, Biren, Bhushan call shots in 2024?

The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.
Published : Oct 11, 2023, 1:08 am IST
Updated : Oct 11, 2023, 1:08 am IST

Mr Bidhuri’s rants in Parliament also signify that the going isn’t good for the BJP in the Assembly elections

BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri. (AA File Image)
 BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri. (AA File Image)

At one time, Vimal was a brand close to the late Dhirubhai Ambani’s heart. Reliance was taking baby steps at that time.  The tagline of the “Vimal” brand of sarees was: “A woman expresses herself in many ways… Vimal is one of them”.

Turning to the present-day “kamal”, the BJP's poll symbol, and what it signifies under the Modi-Shah duo is “brashness“. “Brazening it out with brashness” could be the tagline of the new BJP, which has dumped its Atal Behari Vajpayee ways entirely while seeking greener pastures.

Nothing succeeds like success. The Prime Minister is being shown as the “Vishwa Guru”. His brand has brought to the fore Bidhuris, Biren Singhs and Braj Bhushan Sharan Singhs as torchbearers of a brash politics that fails to give any quarter to the Opposition, minorities and women. Sadly, this BJP’s symbol could be a bulldozer or a raging bull. What else could one think of?

Mr Bidhuri is a symbol of what is wrong with today’s BJP. Living in the time warp of “Akhand Bharat”, the new BJP wants to make it known that its Hindutva brand must always be seen as hardline. So, it is natural that the Bidhuris and their kind will be let loose here and there.

It is no secret Operation Bidhuri was to keep the Hindutva pot boiling. The passage of the women’s reservation bill and the ifs and buts over its implementation have failed to bring much kudos to either the ruling party or its leader. The demand for a OBC quota and similar suggestions have almost punctured the balloon.

Mr Bidhuri’s denigration of a fellow MP, Danish Ali, and the attack on his faith was tantamount to the desecration of Parliament, but the way the BJP has treated him is a signal that he is virtually the male version of the controversial Pragya Thakur, MP from Bhopal. The tragedy is that BSP supremo Mayawati has also treated the entire affair lightly, even though Danish Ali was once the leader of her BSP in the Lok Sabha. This speaks volumes of her marginalisation and her being co-option by the BJP.

Mr Bidhuri has always been a Hindutva hardliner and BJP loyalist. The South Delhi MP is no paratrooper and is a darling of the Sangh Parivar. But the tragedy with the Modi bhakts is that he always remained a backbencher who had taken up the task of hooting out the Opposition in the House whenever the situation warranted. The likes of Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal were like red rags. Missing the skills of a Meenakshi Lekhi or the softness of a Manoj Tiwari, Mr Bidhuri depended almost entirely on his rabble-rousing skills.

Mr Bidhuri’s rants in Parliament also signify that the going isn’t good for the BJP in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana. That paradoxes never cease in politics is clear from the fact that the Congress is emerging as the bugbear for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has failed to generate fresh ideas and appears stale as the Lok Sabha polls are nearing.

Despite the setbacks, Mr Modi hasn’t given up on his pet project of a “Congress-mukt Bharat”. That was evident from the BJP’s recent rally in Bhopal. In his 50-minute speech there, the PM referred to the grand old party some 40 times in not-too-glowing terms. The brashness stems from the belief that those opposing the BJP are not made of sterner stuff.

Mr Modi might have virtually kept mum on troubled Manipur and failed to visit the key northeastern state for the past three months. But the brashness of chief minister N. Biren Singh and the backing provided to him by the Modi-Shah duo is virtually being exposed by the state BJP itself, which has brought the unease in the state to the notice of the party high command. What a tragic irony, the BJP state chief in Manipur is herself confiding that she is in constant fear of an angry mob attempting to burn down her house. The actions or otherwise of Mr Biren Singh have ensured that the BJP has politically become unsettled in the Northeast.

The Braj Bhushan Sharan Singhs know their place in the system and they also know the system inside out. The controversial “Bahubali” stands unfazed despite allegations of sexual harassment and protests against him. The law is taking its own sweet time to catch up with the BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh, given his reach and influence. But his conduct has cost much to the ruling party.

Brashness is the symbol of arrogance of those who always have their way. But this is playing less dividends for the BJP, as is evident from the Assembly results in Karnataka a few months back. The Modi-Shah duo had pushed aside an unwilling veteran leader B.S. Yediyurappa and brought in Basavaraj Bommai in his place as the chief minister.

The party was beaten lock, stock and barrel so much that it is looking shaky in the five state elections due soon. The way it is going about in these states does not indicate it has learnt any lessons from the Bengaluru flop show. The PM might be campaigning hard but he looks more like a man under siege than a confident general marshalling his forces to demolish the opponent. “It is not to question who and why” — looks to be the order of the BJP high command, which has thrown three Union ministers, four MPs and a general secretary into the fray in a blitzkrieg action.

This audacity is bound to grow by leaps and bounds with the clock ticking for the Lok Sabha polls.

Tags: bharatiya janata party (bjp), atal bihari vajpayee, biren singh