The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Chhattisgarh is in disarray after its humiliating defeat in the December 2018 assembly elections. The mighty party that ruled the state for 15 years, is now appears to be demoralised with its leaders singing different tunes ever since it lost power.
With just a handful of 15 legislators in the assembly, the party is facing lot of challenges, as it is gearing up for the Lok Sabha elections. Somehow, former Chief Minister Raman Singh managed to get his henchman, the state BJP president, Dharamlal Kaushik, elected to the post of leader of the opposition in the assembly, despite the fact that the Singh-Kaushik combine had led the party in the recent assembly elections. Some leaders in the party are now begun lobbying for the post of state party chief, while some others are indulging in shadow boxing to settle scores with Singh, as he had sidelined them during the last 15 years.
Veteran tribal leader Nankiram Kawar, who was home minister during Raman Singh’s first tenure as chief minister, met the Congress Chief Minister, Bhupesh Baghel, and submitted a complaint against Director General of Police Mukesh Gupta, who was considered close to Singh. Another former minister Chandrashekhar Sahu, a farmer leader, went around meeting the farmers and apologising for the BJP government’s failures to address their problems and fulfil the promises made to them—much to the discomfort of the Raman Singh camp.
The tussle has actually begun as Lok Sabha polls are at hand. A section of the party leaders feel that Raman Singh, the BJP national vice-president, must contest Lok Sabha poll. This directly means that his son and sitting MP Abhishek Singh could be denied from contesting the election. And this could end his political career. However, others close to Singh feel that his jumping into the fray would result in keeping him confined within a constituency as he would not be in a position to campaign in all the 11 constituencies.
Besides, the Congress government headed by Bhupesh Baghel, launching a series of investigations into cases of alleged corruption during Raman Singh regime has apparently put the BJP in the dock. Registration of an FIR against Raman Singh’s son-in-law Dr Puneet Gupta, in connection with the Antagarh by-poll fixing scandal has virtually silenced the former chief minister, who is yet to launch a major offensive against the incumbent government. His party leaders, however, have been making certain low voices alleging that the government is acting on political vendetta.
There is a major section within the BJP who believes that a handful of bureaucrats had virtually taken over governance, administration and indulged in politicking during the third tenure of Raman Singh. Some of the state BJP leaders have already started criticising these bureaucrats, who pulled the strings in every decision making.
Tit bits about the extra-curricular activities of these junior level bureaucrats have already come out in public domain, including through sting operations that exposed a 2005 batch IAS officer trying to get sting videos of senior Congress leaders. All these acts have tarnished the fair image of Raman Singh and his 15-year rule. It’s time now for the BJP to do introspection as to what was the compulsion of political leadership to play a second fiddle to a handful of bureaucrats?