Inside Track by Coomi Kapoor: Why the BJP is worried about Maharashtra and Bihar (2024)

Inside Track by Coomi Kapoor: Why the BJP is worried about Maharashtra and Bihar (1)The BJP’s weakest links in the north are Bihar and Maharashtra. While the BJP itself may perform as expected, its allies could let it down (Representational Image)

While the BJP has in a show of bravado proclaimed hyped-up numbers — 370 and ‘400 paar’ — as its projected tally, in private, it is more circ*mspect. Fighting to win a third consecutive general election, the BJP is battling both anti-incumbency and voter apathy. It is relying on the Modi factor and Opposition goof-ups to ensure victory. The BJP’s weakest links in the north are Bihar and Maharashtra. While the BJP itself may perform as expected, its allies could let it down. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has been allotted 16 seats, but its prospects appear bleak since its caste-based vote base is shrinking with Nitish’s declining stature. Most JD(U) candidates are elderly sitting MPs affected by anti-incumbency and BJP workers are reluctant to campaign for them.

In Maharashtra too, the BJP is likely to fare better than its allies, Shinde’s Sena and Ajit Pawar’s NCP. The MVA has not collapsed after the BJP split the Sena and NCP, taking along a majority of their leaders. There is unease in Maharashtra at the BJP’s efforts to gobble up regional parties. At 83, Pawar is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that his daughter Supriya retains his bastion of Baramati, even though nephew Ajit may hold many levers of powers in the constituency’s powerful cooperatives.

The Pawar clan, including Ajit’s brothers, are backing Supriya and not his wife Sunetra. Recently, Pawar drove to the residence of his old political foe, the late Sambhajirao Kakade, to meet his kin and mend a 55-year-old enmity. Earlier, he had smoked the peace pipe with another long-time rival in the Pune belt, Anantrao Thopte. Pawar, who has been campaigning relentlessly in his strongholds, is in fact displaying more vigour than Uddhav Thackeray, who is encumbered by a chronic back problem. In the MVA, the weakest link is the Congress, with its allies bullying it even in seat distribution.


In the Congress, there are doubts about the soundness of some of Rahul Gandhi’s decisions. His choice of Kanhaiya Kumar, the former Communist student activist from JNU who accompanied Gandhi on his Bharat Jodo Yatra, as the candidate from Delhi North East, being an example. Sandeep Diksh*t, a former Delhi MP who enjoys much goodwill as the son of the popular CM, the late Sheila Diksh*t, was ignored in favour of the outsider. Incidentally, two elderly Congress leaders called at 10 Janpath recently to urge the Gandhis not to abdicate their responsibility, by failing to contest from the family bastion of Rae Bareli. They warned that it could send out a wrong signal throughout UP.

Clipped wings

When the BJP was in power in Karnataka, general secretary (organisation) B L Santosh was projected as the man who called the shots in his home state. It was even speculated that the RSS pracharak loaned to the BJP might one day end up as CM. After the BJP lost the 2023 Assembly polls, the leadership had reservations about his policy of hard-core Hindutva and rejection of caste-based politics.

By humiliating Lingayat leader B S Yediyurappa, the BJP alienated its caste vote bank. Santosh’s wings were drastically clipped in this poll and three of his four Hindutva protégés, Anantkumar Hegde, Pratap Simha and Nalin Kateel, were not re-nominated. Though Tejasvi Surya was given a ticket, his name was removed from the list of BJP’s star campaigners. The BJP, which has long targeted Deve Gowda for his purely caste-driven politics, has even given a BJP ticket to his son-in-law cardiologist C N Manjunath.

Suspect judgement

Arvind Kejriwal’s curious choices for RS seats was evident when seven of the AAP’s 10 MPs failed to join protests following his arrest. Instead of rewarding long-time loyalists who had worked on the ground, the Upper House honours were bestowed largely on apolitical businessmen and well-known faces who were new recruits to the party. They were absent during the early years of the infant party’s struggles. In fact, five of the MPs joined the AAP only in 2022.


The absence of Raghav Chadha, who hastily left the country recently for a relatively minor eye operation, reportedly without the knowledge of his long-time Delhi ophthalmologist, is being talked about. The disappearance of Kejriwal’s favourite, who helped plan AAP’s successful strategy in Punjab, is suspicious and it is rumoured that he fears the long hand of the ED. Swati Maliwal was the only missing MP who was with the AAP since the Anna Hazare movement.

AAP’s original leadership, whether Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Kumar Vishwas or Shazia Ilmi, as well as loyal foot soldiers such as Commander Suresh and Binny left because they were either thrown out or felt suffocated in an atmosphere of suspicion and rivalry.

Inside Track by Coomi Kapoor: Why the BJP is worried about Maharashtra and Bihar (2024)


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