The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is in the throes of a crisis.
It’s not over the admittedly embarrassing revelations concerning BJP members in Gujarat, a state ruled by the BJP, who were caught watching pornography on their cell phones. Nor is it about the Lok Sabha by-election that the BJP has lost to the ruling Congress in Udupi-Chikamagalur in Karnataka, a seat vacated by the BJP’s chief minister, Sadananda Gowd
No, the real crisis engulfing the BJP goes to the top of the party. Resentment is brewing against BJP President Nitin Gadkari over several alleged sins of omission and commission, the latest being his questionable choice of candidates for upcoming Rajya Sabha polls. The two concerned are Ajay Sancheti from Maharashtra, and Anshuman Mishra, an independent candidate from Jharkhand. Sancheti has been tainted with corruption, while Mishra is seen as an outsider.
Top leaders of the BJP are split into two camps: one led by Gadkari, with active support from opposition leader Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley; and the second by the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, assisted by Yashwant Sinha and BJP stalwart LK Advani.
Advani has called for an emergency meeting of the party, while Sinha has publicly questioned Gadkari’s selection of candidates, saying that it will dent the party’s image, as well as its avowed zero tolerance of corruption.
Gadkari’s policies with regard to Gopinath Munde in Maharashtra and Narendra Modi in Gujarat have triggered a groundswell of resentment against him. Gadkari’s reinduction of Sanjay Joshi at the party headquarters annoyed Modi to the extent that he decided against campaigning for the party in this month’s assembly polls. For those not familiar with Indian politics, it should be noted that Modi was recently predicted by Time to be a direct competitor with the Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi at the next general election, due in 2014.