BJP lines up its Hindutva faces, talks unity, aam aadmi

Manish Chandra Pandey

Lucknow, Dec. 2 -- Acting apparently on the instructions of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders made a public show of burying differences during the formal election of Laxmikant Bajpai as party chief in Uttar Pradesh. Bajpai, a party MLA from Meerut and known for his hardcore Hindutva politics has been elected unopposed for three years. Whether BJP goes back to its Hindutva politics remains to be seen. However giving company to Bajpai were familiar faces of Hindutva politics - Yogi Adityanath, Varun Gandhi.

Sadhvi Uma Bharti, rushed from Kanpur to congratulate Bajpai.

The poster boy of the temple movement Kalyan Singh's return to the BJP too is expected by December 15.

But the focus on Sunday wasn't as much on the type of politics BJP would indulge in under Bajpai's stewardship.

It was more on instilling discipline and restoring the confidence of the cadre. Barely an hour after BJP leaders including party veterans like Kalraj Mishra and Lalji Tandon had given a standing ovation to Bajpai, the new chief burdened with garlands and the daunting responsibility of improving the party's graph in 2014 general elections from UP, announced that there would not be any nominations to the party posts in the state anymore.

"I went through election process. Now this would be the norm for each party post in UP. If there is more than one candidate for a post, there would either be consensus or an election. But we would never have a compromise," Bajpai said echoing the RSS's desire to promote grass root level workers to contain dissent among the party cadre.

However Kalraj Mishra cautioned that while election was a welcome thing, it often gives rise to lobbying and backbiting.

"We would need to check it for truly celebrating the healthy democratic practice of honouring the elected," said Mishra.

"We defeat ourselves due to inner bickering. I pray to Lord Vishwanath that Bajpai gets strength to fight inner disputes as well as opposition from outside," said former BJP chief Om Prakash Singh, who after a record six consecutive wins from Mirzapur suffered a shock defeat in the 2012 assembly polls.

BJP veteran Santosh Gangwar urged Bajpai, a doctor to administer a bitter drug to cure BJP disease (of successive losses over the last decade).

The Sunday's star attractions were firebrand and temperamental party MPs Yogi Adityanath and Varun Gandhi, both of whom spoke of the need to connect with the 'aam aadmi' if the party had to arrest its political slide in UP.

Yogi Adityanath, who perhaps appeared in a BJP show in Lucknow after more than a decade said under Bajpai's stewardship the cadre would take to streets.

"Now we would have to fight a Mahabharat to do well in the Lok Sabha elections. The workers are charged. If only we can channelise their energies and strengthen the party organization, we could repeat 1998, when BJP led NDA government had formed its own government at the centre," he said.

Varun Gandhi made two requests to Bajpai - Not to forget the last man in the queue (he apparently was referring to the neglect of party cadre in UP) and to help the needy, specially the one in debt.

"If this is done, I am sure we would do well. There is a definite undercurrent against the ruling Samajwadi Party," he said.

In a lighter vein, Gandhi also urged former UP BJP chief Surya Pratap Shahi, who after a brief appearance started leaving to catch a flight for Gujarat, to return.

"Please return as otherwise people will think that there are differences between you and Bajpai," he said, as everyone laughed.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.