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  Opinion   Columnists  21 May 2017  BJP hit by the ‘Congress disease’

BJP hit by the ‘Congress disease’

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.
Published : May 21, 2017, 12:09 am IST
Updated : May 21, 2017, 12:09 am IST

BJP workers in West Bengal have not stopped complaining ever since national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya was given charge of their state.

It is no secret that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah hold complete sway over the government and the party. (Photo: PTI)
 It is no secret that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah hold complete sway over the government and the party. (Photo: PTI)

A hasty move by Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala has led to an unpleasant situation in the party. In his enthusiasm, Mr Surjewala held a press briefing recently to announce the appointments of Avinash Pande as the new general secretary in charge of Rajasthan and Sunil Jakhar and Pritam Singh as state unit chiefs in Punjab and Uttarakhand, respectively. Not just that but he also circulated the names to the beat reporters on WhatsApp. But this did not go down well with Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who looks after organisational matters, and has been authorised to release the final list of appointments after they have been duly cleared by the party president. In this case, Mr Surjewala rushed to the press before Mr Dwivedi had issued the formal note. Known to be an authority on organisational matters and a stickler for norms, Mr Dwivedi ticked off Mr Surjewala for not following proper procedures. He also refused to sign the official order. The upshot is that the formal note announcing the latest appointments has not been issued. This is not the first time that Mr Surjewala has fallen foul of his senior colleagues. There have been several instances in the past when he has called a separate briefing or issued a press statement after the party’s official press conference. Mr Surjewala’s statements are invariably given preference by the press over his colleague’s briefing since he is the head of the party’s communications department.

Former Union ministers Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh are not known to be on the best of terms. The tension between the two was palpable when they were Cabinet colleagues in the UPA government as they were constantly trying to score over each other. Last week, Mr Sharma stole a march over Mr Ramesh when he took centrestage at the special function organised at the Teen Murti Bhavan for the release of a book on Indira Gandhi India’s Indira. Edited by Mr Sharma, the commemorative volume has been brought out as a part of Indira Gandhi’s centenary year celebrations. Mr Sharma had reason to feel pleased as the book was released by President Pranab Mukherjee and the programme was attended by vice-president Hamid Ansari and the Congress party’s top brass. Not to be left behind, Mr Ramesh was quick to send off mails to journalists, a few days before Mr Sharma’s book was released, informing them about his forthcoming book, also on Indira Gandhi. Mr Ramesh’s book Indira Gandhi — A Life in Nature dwells on an unknown aspect of the late Prime Minister’s personality — her passion for the environment, her dealings with conservationists and some of the important decisions taken during her time with regard to wildlife and forests. It is to be seen if Mr Ramesh can also muster a similar audience for his book release function.

It is no secret that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah hold complete sway over the government and the party. Senior ministers and party workers are generally discouraged from taking any major decision without the prior consent of the two leaders. Even their personal moves and actions are scrutinised closely. Take the case of road transport minister Nitin Gadkari. Not only is he a senior member of the Modi government but also has been the BJP president. But even he was not spared by the leadership. It is learnt that Mr Gadkari has planned a massive birthday bash in his hometown Nagpur later this month. It is also meant to double up as a show of strength, specially since Mr Gadkari’s bête noire, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, has emerged as a leader in his own right. But these plans may have to be curtailed. According to the BJP grapevine, word was sent to Mr Gadkari by the two top bosses that he should refrain from an ostentatious show and scale down the celebrations as it would hurt the party’s pro-poor image. This is particularly so as the official programmes currently being planned for the government’s third anniversary celebrations will be highlighting the various schemes and policies initiated by Mr Modi for the poor and underprivileged sections. Meanwhile, Mr Gadkari is learnt to have told the leadership that the birthday celebrations are being organised by his supporters.

Bharatiya Janata Party workers in West Bengal have not stopped complaining ever since national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya was given charge of their state. Not only do they have to contend with his brusque manner but also deal with Mr Vijavargiya’s idiosyncrasies. According to the workers, their meetings with Mr Vijavargiya are constantly interrupted as he has a habit of bathing and changing his clothes several times during the day. In addition, the senior BJP leader feeds 11 cows thrice a week and it is the task of the workers or his staff to round up the cows. To make matters worse, Mr Vijayvargiya insists that they should not bring the same cows but locate a fresh herd each time. This is proving to be really taxing for the workers, who say they are being constantly dispatched on a hunting spree.

Tags: randeep surjewala, jairam ramesh, janardan dwivedi