VENKATESH KESARI | 28 SEPTEMBER, 2017
NEW DELHI: The faultlines in some of the key BJP ruled states are becoming more visible as Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes under attack from some within his own party for the government’s economic policies. There is worry within the party that increasing criticism of PM Modi could rob the BJP of its star campaigner, at a time when he is most needed to offset the shaky wicket on which at least four Chief Ministers are perched.
Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, sources said, are currently the most vulnerable with the respective Chief Ministers unable to cope with the trials of administration in a manner that can inspire confidence. Of these four states, Maharashtra and Haryana are led by CM’s handpicked by PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. The other two --UP and Rajasthan--are under CMs with a closer relationship with the RSS that seems to have prevailed over the Prime Minister in these appointments.
Interestingly, UP CM Yogi Adityanath has lost his sheen faster than most others. After an aggressive start when his Hindu Vahini came into direct conflict with Dalits and Muslims in th state, Adityanath has been hit hard by the Gorakhpur tragedy in which children died because of poor administration resulting in the disruption of oxygen supply; and now Banaras Hindu University where young students asking for little more than security and action against molesters were brutally lathicharged by the police.
More so as the two incidents of wide magnitude directly impact on the constituencies of Adityanath (Gorakhpur) and of PM Modi (Varanasi). Both were said to be governed by the respective legislators with an iron hand and watchful eyes, and yet under and over action respectively has queered the pitch for the BJP in both these important cities.To a point where BJP leaders in the start have started wondering whether Adityanath who is just a few months in office will even be able to complete his five year term. And this shortly after he was being projected from within as a RSS favourite, and an alternative to PM Modi.
Questions about his ability to control the administration, and govern effectively are now heard in the corridors of power with even journalists demonstrating outside the CMs residence in protest against the lathicharge on their colleagues in BHU while covering the students agitation. It is no secret that Adityanath was not PM Modi’s choice, even though he was popularly credited for the victory in UP. The agenda of arrests and communal polarisation in the districts, however, continues unabated.
Rajasthan where elections are due next year, is reeling under a spell of anti-incumbency according to all reports from Jaipur. This is further confirmed by BJP insiders who speak openly of Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje’s unpopularity and growing inaccessibility. She was also not a Modi favourite to begin with, and got a second term at the RSS behest that was able to persuade the Prime Minister to look at her a little more kindly. However deep factionalism, and a tendency to play favourites, has placed Scindia in the dock with growing farmer unrest, and poor governance being big black crosses in her record book. Here too the agenda of communal polarisation continues unabated, with cow vigilantism, communal violence remaining integral to Scindia’s rule. The Congress remains confident of capturing power in Rajasthan as the principal opposition party, but this remains under a big question mark despite BJP confirmation of a growing anti-Scindia sentiment in the state.
Maharashtra and Haryana are both states where the CM’s namely Devendra Fadnavis and Manohar Lal Khattar are PM-Shah picks. Fadnavis is losing ground steadily, coming under pressure from the Shiv Sena on an almost daily basis. He has spent more time in keeping the Shiv Sena leaders happy than in governance, according to local BJP leaders. Fadnavis has also been hit by the farmers unrest that shows little sign of fading out despite his many unimplemented promises. But clearly the state is not in good health, and the sharp opposition from BJP's own allies has been worrying both the state and Delhi.
Haryana is on an extremely weak wicket with CM Khattar unable to rule the small state with any level of efficiency. It has been a constant battle, first with the Jat agitation that was badly handled by the state administration; then more recently by the rape charges against Gurmeet Singh, the ‘baba’ that had the entire state cabinet bowing for him. The skeletons poured out of this particular cupboard with the Khattar government and the BJP leadership coming under direct flak.
The murder of a young student in Ryan School Gurgaon has not helped Khattar either, with the state government unable to shake off criticism insofar as the education sector and its own monitoring of the same is concerned. However, in Haryana too the communal agenda continues unabated particularly in Mewat-Nuh belt.
As BJP sources said that these states are clearly bimaru, with the situation likely to worsen in the run up to the general elections. The over reliance on PM Modi to swing the vote might not be as successful it was in 2014, the sources said as his government too was facing a barrage of criticism for its economic policies. Joblessness, the sources said, was eating into the youth support and till date there was little from the government to tackle this effectively.