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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Will BJP form the next government at the Centre?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has smelt the scent of power. The party leaders are already believing that LK Advani is the next Prime Minister and there are talks as to which leader would get the particular portfolio.

One can't fault the BJP leaders even if they are daydreaming. The thumping victory in Karnataka that has taken the Saffron dream beyond the Vindhyas has come as a major boost and the Congress' magic seems on the wane despite Rahul's efforts to capture the lost votebank.

For the BJP the next elections are a great opportunity to pursue its agenda. It hopes to get much more seats alone than it got in the past and thus dictate terms unlike the last reign when allies called the shots.

Inflation is one issue that can take LK Advani to the ramparts of Red Fort in August 2009. Fuel hike and unchecked price rise will surely work to the advantage of BJP that hopes to gain from anti-incumbency at the centre.

But all is not well for the BJP either. The party has lost it in UP and the Bihar unit is in a bad shape. If BJP plays its cards well, it can hope to get, at best, 200 seats, which will also be a miracle.

Much will depend on the role of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which is likely to secure anything from 20 to 35 seats. The party is aware of its limitations and that's why Advani's last hoorah would require a wider acceptability. The BJP is now planning to seriously approach Muslims and Christians.

But both the parties have their own problems. What works for the BJP is that it has an ideology whether semi-fascist or right-wing unlike Congress that now seems bereft of any ideology. It doesn't allow state leaders to grow. And Congress is not going to get rid of its culture of sycophancy and Gandhi family's dynasy rule in near future.

For the BJP, it is important to win as it still has both the pan-Indian leaders Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee around and they can seek votes. After 2008 elections, they will be too old and there is no second line of leadership.

Arun Jaitleys, Rajnath Singhs, Sushma Swarajs and Ravishankar Prasads may talk well on TV but have hardly any following. The era when hardworking RSS activists worked for the party is also gone. Now its no longer frugal lifestyle, rather flashy cars for even organisation leaders, who just join the Sangh to get to the party positions.

BJP is trying to woo all sections. It may have messed up Rajasthan but Karnataka win has given them hopes to go further down South. The party wants Muslim vote as well. The only problem with it is its 'niyat'.

It doesn't like Muslims much and in states where it has been at the helm, its regional leaders have taken extra care to ensure that Muslim institutions get damaged, which doesn't behove a national party.

In states, the local leaders still retain the old anti-Muslim bias inherited from the days of Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the Rath Yatra. Their friendly cadres of VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena remain wary of Muslims.

Though there is still sometime before the elections, one thing is most certain. BJP is going to gain, just the question is 'how much'. If they succeed in making price rise a national issue, they will strike chord with common man. Once price rise becomes the issue, everything else takes the backseat.

Inflation is hurting the Indians. And if 'mahangai' becomes the 'mudda' and the BJP gets to the power with lesser allies, it will have to thank P Chidambaram. Does the Fin Min ever go out buying vegetables or grocery? There is a rage, which Congress doesn't seem to either read or it doesn't know how to tackle the situation.

[Photo: Advani, eyes set on Red Fort]