AA Edit | Kejriwal on warpath, gives Opp boost, BJP gets a jolt

Kejriwal's provocative speech & Modi's alleged retirement rumors add intrigue to the LS polls, stirring debates & reshaping strategies

The unexpected return of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to the public sphere and his first speech loaded with speculation of early retirement of Mr Narendra Modi should he return as PM has given the ongoing Lok Sabha election its first major plot twist, though the jury is out as to what would be its outcome.

Starting its campaign with the slogans of “400 plus this time” and “Modi’s guarantees”, the BJP has been presumably disappointed by the declining voter turnout in the first two phases of the polls.

Prime Minister Modi, followed by other leaders including BJP president J.P. Nadda, meanwhile, lost no time in getting on the communal bandwagon after purportedly discovering hints of wealth redistribution in the Congress manifesto. That the document has no such actual promise did not deter the saffron party’s leadership from scaring the people with the threat of an Opposition snatching the assets of the majority community, including women’s mangalsutras, if it were to be voted to power. Every day saw the level of political discourse sinking to lower and more nonsensical levels, yet the Congress and its INDIA alliance partners found it hard to defend their positions.

If Mr Kejriwal’s very release from jail albeit thanks to the verdict of the Supreme Court has further unsettled the ruling party, his first public speech that mentions Mr Modi turning 75 in September next year must have set the cat among pigeons.

The BJP leaders who would, in the normal course, have imperiously ignored Opposition jibes, were sent scrambling for an answer. Union home minister Amit Shah went out of his way to personally deny any talk of his chances of replacing Mr Modi. There is nothing in the party’s constitution which barred people above the age of 75 years from holding an office, he declared. The BJP president concurred with his statement.

It is a fact that the BJP constitution has no age bar on people holding post after 75 but the retirement of stalwarts L.K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Yashwant Sinha and their transfer into a Margadarshak Mandal, or seniors’ circle, is rumoured to be the result of a decision by the leadership to limit positions of power to the relatively young. Mr Shah’s reported statement during the 2019 election campaign that the party had not given tickets to anyone above 75 only adds grist to the speculation. However, as the Indian Constitution has prescribed only a lower age limit for candidates contesting for legislative bodies, it stops no one, including Mr Modi, from holding office even after the age of 75.

Mr Kejriwal throwing a stone to the otherwise calm waters of BJP politics is a welcome diversion. It gives the Opposition alliance another chance to regroup and adds some fun to electioneering. Perhaps the next phases will see a higher voter turnout.

Next Story