Maharashtra BJP has grown from strength to strength. After Modiji took over at the National level and the 2014 elections were won by a full majority, there was a groundswell of support for the party in several states, Maharashtra being one of them.
Till then BJP had not successfully contested elections in Maharashtra on their own steam. But with Modiji in power at Delhi, there was bound to be a rub off effect. Shiv Sena, the partner of the BJP in earlier elections had always been demanding their unrealistic pound of flesh. This time however the situation was different. The BJP clearly had an edge because of the Lok Sabha Election results and the positive image of Modiji
This image helped the state BJP call off its electoral alliance with the Shiv Sena and contest all seats on their own
The results were startling to say the least. BJP won more than 120 seats on their own and the Shiv Sena was second with 65+ seats. It was a landmark in the Indian political history where two Right Wing Parties stood first and second in a major state election
However, neither party was in a position to form the government on its own. The BJP was not sure to get into alliance with the NCP as it would hurt its image. The NCP and Congress governments in the past had a track record of corrupt governance with the leaders known to have walked away with the booty. The irrigation scam was such that there were places where dams were ready on paper but at the actual location, nothing existed. Yes Nothing at all was built but the whole budget was exhausted
This is the kind of credibility that the leaders of the Congress and NCP enjoyed in those days
Devendra Fadnavis took over as CM with outside support from the NCP. However this was never going to be a stable set up and was unlikely to last for the full term. The most stable set up possible was if the Sena joined hands with the BJP and formed a coalition.
The Sena had their own interests to promote their own party. More so since from being a senior partner in the Yuti, they were now relegated to a role of a junior
But ideologically they are both Hindutva parties and it worked out. Fortunately, rumours of a revolt in the Shiv Sena ranks made the difference
The government worked well and in the last Lok Sabha elections as well they fought in alliance and swept the polls in Maharashtra
The Congress suffered from intense infighting and was rudderless. The NCP, other than the first family couldn’t find their roots in the elections and both parties seem to be losing direction and support base.
Like rats leaving a sinking ship, lot of their leaders were looking for greener pastures. There started an exodus of leaders from these parties, and they started joining the Right wing partners.
The last few months has seen a flood of such leaders joining the BJP. A lot more are waiting in the wings to join in
Even in Goa, a lot of Congress leaders jumped ship and joined BJP. One of them was a person accused of rape and known for extreme corrupt practices
This process actually started before the Lok Sabha elections where Sujay Vikhe Patil the son of the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil joined BJP and successfully contested the elections
It was not a bad move politically but ideologically I am not sure how it will benefit the BJP.
Some more leaders joined like Vaibhav Pichad also joined.
These leaders have a decent image, or at least haven’t had much of negative buzz around their personality or action and hence have not negativity associated with them
The other areas that could be impacted would be the morale of the cadre, the ideological integrity and the credibility of the party
Some leaders who are joining lately include Shri Ganesh Naik who is known to be a strong man and Shri Kripashankar Singh who was heading the Congress in Mumbai and has an utterly corrupt record
Some people with a good image like Shri Harshvardhan Patil is also likely to join the party
Overall, it’s a mixed bag.
It might be argued that ideologically the party has an all india presence and entry of few individuals into the party without giving them organisational responsibilities will ensure ideological integrity
What is more disconcerting is the entry of suspected criminals. We have seen in UP how the BJP admitted Kuldeep Sengar from the Samajwadi party. He was given a ticket (although he didn’t have any organisational responsibilities) and successfully contested the Vidhan Sabha Elections from Unnao. He is a rape accused today and incidents happening after the incident point to his circumstantial or even direct involvement in his trying to destroy all evidence against him
The media has never been friendly to BJP and the adverse coverage that it received has hurt the image of the BJP
Imagine the leaders who now enter the party commit some criminal acts. The media will lap it up like a bear lapping honey and create a huge negative buzz around the incident. This will definitely hurt the party in the long run
While it would definitely help the BJP politically in the coming elections, how far it would impact the party in future is difficult to predict. For all you know, these people who don’t fit into the ideological framework or even the organisational culture will leave the party at the first opportunity.
The most worrisome aspect that is feared is the response of the cadre. As a party the BJP is a cadre based party unlike the other which are centred around personalities. The path to leadership position takes years of hard work and toil. If someone coming from other organisational cultures comes in and is anointed as leader, it would greatly affect the morale of the older workers. This will be even more prominent if the new joinee will be given a ticket to contest elections and the older ideologically committed cadre is forced to work for the victory of a person whom they had earlier opposed tooth and nail
The effects on both the image of the party, ideological integrity as well as acceptance of the cadre needs to be observed.
It could well turn out to be a pandora’s box, full of surprises, hopefully not unwanted