Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019 | Last Update : 11:35 PM IST

When Shah lost his cool; has India Inc switched sides?

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.
Published : Dec 2, 2019, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Dec 2, 2019, 6:33 am IST

The party chief felt betrayed as he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had campaigned extensively in Maharashtra but their hard work came to naught.

Union home minister Amit Shah (Photo: PTI)
 Union home minister Amit Shah (Photo: PTI)

While the loss of a government in Maharashtra has proved to be a big setback for the BJP, the drama enacted in the country’s financial capital has added to the Narendra Modi government’s worries but for a different reason. Party insiders said in private conversations that these developments suggest that they have lost the support of the corporate sector, known to play a crucial role in the state’s politics. A BJP leader expressed surprise at how several five-star hotel managements threw open their doors for newly-elected MLAs of the Shiv Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. Not just that, the BJP could not believe that the owners gave these political parties a free run of their hotels, even allowing them to stage a show of strength on their premises. They recalled that when the BJP was in Opposition, their leaders would have a tough time booking rooms as hotel managements did not wish to get on the wrong side of the ruling dispensation. According to them, the party should not overlook this aspect of the Maharashtra imbroglio and take immediate steps to win back the confidence of the corporate sector, which appears to be unhappy with the ruling alliance.

Political circles are busy speculating why BJP president Amit Shah did not travel to Mumbai after the Assembly election results in Maharashtra threw up a fractured mandate and the Shiv Sena, its pre-poll alliance partner, started acting tough. According to the capital’s grapevine, Mr Shah was furious with the party's state unit which failed to deliver on its repeated assurance to the central leadership that the BJP would cross the half-way mark on its own. The party chief felt betrayed as he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had campaigned extensively in Maharashtra but their hard work came to naught.

Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has made concerted efforts to woo Bollywood stars and filmmakers, the BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is doing the same as it too realises the importance of popular cinema in shaping public opinion. It was, therefore, not a coincidence that heads of frontal organisations affiliated to the RSS and its media chiefs from across the country were invited as delegates to this year’s International Film Festival of India in Goa. During their stay in Panjim, RSS reps held extensive informal interactions with filmmakers. Their objective: to persuade them to make films that reflect Indian culture and traditions and promote the spirit of nationalism and patriotism. In other words, Bollywood films should desist from encouraging the adoption of Western values which have a corrupting influence on the young. Mr Modi’s outreach was a success as was evident from the release of films like Uri: The Surgical Strike and Mission Mangal, which propagate the government’s agenda on nationalism. It is to be seen if the RSS succeeds in its mission.

Two Rajya Sabha members of the People’s Democratic Party, Mir Fayaz and Nazir Ahmed Laway, were marshalled out of the house in the last Parliament session when they tore up a copy of the Constitution to protest the government’s decision to scrap Article 370. The matter was referred to the Rajya Sabha’s ethics committee. The two MPs have not been seen this session because the ethics committee is yet to take a view on their case. It transpires that a decision is being delayed deliberately following instructions from the BJP top brass to its party MPs on the committee to keep this case pending. The government apparently does not want the PDP members to return in a hurry to deny them an opportunity to place their views on record or raise angry protests in case the RS schedules a discussion on the Kashmir situation.

When former steel minister Birender Singh asked for a Lok Sabha ticket for his son in the last election, he told BJP president Amit Shah he would resign from the Cabinet and the Rajya Sabha. Mr Singh gave up his ministry after his son was elected to the Lok Sabha and followed it up by resigning his Rajya Sabha seat before this Parliament session commenced. Mr Singh stopped attending the proceedings on the assumption his resignation had been accepted. He was, therefore, baffled when the Rajya Sabha secretariat continued to send the agenda papers and other documents to his residence.

On enquiry, he learned there was no official word about his resignation. Mr Singh promptly started attending the session on realising he had unnecessarily lost out on his Rs 2,000 daily allowance for several days. Meanwhile, no one knows why Mr Singh's resignation has been kept pending since decisions in such cases are normally taken immediately.

Tags: modi government, amit shah