21 October, 2020

A Warhorse Limps To Battle

The BJP is demoralised, but a buoyant Congress may be felled by that old devil—dissension

A Warhorse Limps To Battle

I am 76. Old. Tired. In poor health. I will not leave Rajasthan." And with that, chief minister and veteran BJP warhorse Bhairon Singh Shekhawat debunks speculation that he will be put to pasture in New Delhi before the November assembly polls. Electoral reverses, failing health, demoralised party workers and alienation of influential castes may have slackened the patriarch's grip over the state, but he remains the BJP's best bet.

The party's downward slide continues after its debacle in the 1998 Lok Sabha polls, when it was reduced to five of 25 seats. If it has now staged a marginal recovery, the BJP has to thank not only the combined political skills of Shekhawat and BJP vice-president K.N. Govindacharya, but the Congress' genius for shooting itself in the foot.

This was demonstrated once again when it inducted 14 MLAs and one MP into the party at a much-hyped function in New Delhi last week. The setback to the BJP in real terms was marginal—eight were independents, former Congressmen who quit the party on being...



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