Litmus test for Rajnath Singh

BJP chief must unite rival leaders

Newly elected BJP president Rajnath Singh’s immediate challenge may be the forthcoming Assembly elections in some states.

But he would be facing a tougher test in the next Lok Sabha elections and that too in his home state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends the maximum number of 80 MPs to the lower house.

In the faction-ridden UP unit of the party, Rajnath’s rivalry with many senior leaders including BJP vice-president Kalraj Mishra is only too well known. Even former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, who merged his Jan Kranti Party with the BJP barely a few days back, does not enjoy a cordial relationship with Singh.

Incidentally, Kalyan Singh, at the rally where the merger was announced on Monday, publicly congratulated Nitin Gadkari on his “re-election” as national chief of the party. “My (Kalyan) information is that you (Gadkari) are certain to become the national president once again,” Kalyan had declared from the dais where Rajnath Singh was also present.

With the same Kalyan Singh back in the BJP, he could pose problems for Rajnath though some in the state BJP feel that Kalyan was now “too weak to take on Rajnath or for that matter any one.

Rehabilitation matters

“Kalyan Singh will, however, insist on the suitable rehabilitation of his son Rajveer Singh and a few of his old party’s office bearers... the party may also have to spare a few Lok Sabha tickets for Kalyan’s nominees,” said a senior state BJP leader here.

Senior BJP leaders admit that the party was a “divided house” in the state. At least four senior leaders–Yogi Adityanath and Varun Gandhi–both MP and Kesri Nath Tripathi and Om Prakash Singh–were absent from Monday’s rally in the state capital.

BJP leaders here are not very sure about the change of fortune for the saffron party in the next Lok Sabha polls if the factional fight continued. “Rajnath Singh will have to rein in the different factions and bring them on one platform if the party is to succeed in the general elections,” said another leader.

Singh’s past record, however, is not very bright. Under his leadership, the BJP fought the 2007 Assembly polls and lost heavily. Its tally came down to 51. Also it was Rajnath, who was the party national president, when the NDA lost to UPA in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. BJP fared poorly in the state too, bagging only ten seats.

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