New Delhi, Nov. 10: A quartet of BJP veterans today shredded the "collective" fig-leaf of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the wake of the Bihar debacle, declared that they were shrugging off responsibility after emasculating the party and called for a thorough review in which the duo have no part.
"The results of the Bihar elections show that no lesson has been
learnt from the fiasco in Delhi.... The principal reason for the latest
defeat is the way the Party has been emasculated in the last year," a
joint statement said.
The stinging joint statement, which outgunned a series of
announcements by the government on foreign investment rules that were
tom-tommed as "big-bang" reforms a few hours earlier, was authorised by
L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Yashwant Sinha and
signed by Sinha.
Advani and Joshi had mentored Prime Minister Modi but he binned them
in a specially set up "margadarshak mandal", a euphemism for a
retirement home, after coming to power. Although the two are Lok Sabha
MPs, they have no voice in party and parliamentary affairs.
Sinha is a former finance and foreign minister and his son Jayant
Sinha is now the junior finance minister. Kumar is a former Himachal
Pradesh chief minister and an MP now. For all intent and purpose, Sinha
and Kumar were relegated to the ranks of the BJP's has-beens after Modi
and Shah set an unwritten retirement age of 75.
This evening, the four met at Joshi's residence on Raisina Road, ostensibly to exchange Diwali greetings.
But it emerged that the occasion was an excuse to draft and later put
out the statement that a source said "reflected an emerging and
consensual opinion" about the party's command structures and working in
the Modi-Shah regime. "They fulfilled a major responsibility as towering
leaders," a source said.
Arun Shourie and K.N. Govindacharya, too, called on Joshi and the
others during and after the meeting. Shourie, an economist, a journalist
and a former NDA minister, has given interviews before and after the
Bihar polls, directly attacking Modi and his governance in no uncertain
terms. Govindacharya, once placed in the BJP's top hierarchy and valued
for his understanding of the Hindi heartland and his advocacy of "social
engineering" went into oblivion after the party dumped him in the
Soon after the Bihar results were announced, Shourie had said in
response to a question on who should be held responsible: "It is Modi,
the master strategist (Shah) and Jaitley.... There is no fourth person
in the party or the government."
The statement tonight echoed such perceptions. "A thorough review
must be done of the reasons for the defeat as well as of the way the
Party is being forced to kow-tow to a handful, and how its consensual
character has been destroyed. This review must not be done by the very
persons who have managed and who have been responsible for the campaign
in Bihar," the joint statement said.
The statement also tore into Arun Jaitley's defence of Shah yesterday
that "as far as accountability is concerned, the party collectively
wins and collectively loses".
The statement retorted: "To say that everyone is responsible for the
defeat in Bihar is to ensure that no one is held responsible. It shows
that those who would have appropriated credit if the Party had won are
bent on shrugging off responsibility for the disastrous showing in
Advani and Joshi's endeavour was reportedly sanctioned by RSS
sarsanghachalak Mohanrao Bhagwat who was supposed to be cut up by Modi
and Shah's alleged "unilateralism" and a tendency to "run roughshod"
over those who were not slotted as their "yes men".
Sources claimed that Bhagwat suspected that reports insinuating that
his thrice-repeated statements on reservations before and during the
Bihar polls had cost the BJP heavily were "planted" by the party brass
to paint him as the "fall guy".
"Their (the quartet's) views reflect those felt by the BJP's
disrespected and disempowered whose lips were sealed since May 2014
(when Modi came to power). There are innumerable examples of how eminent
veterans in Bihar were trampled upon by Shah and his flunkeys," a
Late night, the affairs got curiouser and curiouser.
The BJP issued a quasi-conciliatory statement from three former
presidents and current ministers, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and M.
Venkaiah Naidu, the last a sworn Advani loyalist until recently.
The carefully drafted statement, which paid respects to the elders
but also had elements of a rebuttal, said: "Obviously, all party members
are concerned with the results of the Assembly elections in Bihar. The
Party has won the Lok Sabha Election last year under the leadership of
Shri Narendra Modi. Thereafter, the Party had success in Assembly
elections of Jharkhand, Haryana, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir.
Recently, we have won the local elections in Karnataka, Maharashtra,
Andamans, Kerala and Assam."
Significantly, the statement omitted saying under the leadership of Modi and Shah.
The statement added that the party would discuss "the adverse" Bihar
results in various forums, "including with senior leaders and attempt to
overcome the shortcomings."