This morning, Jaswant Singh told television channels, he received a call from BJP president Rajnath Singh asking that he absent himself from the morning session of the ongoing chintan baitak. “And then, around 1 o’clock, I was informed that I had been dismissed from even the primary membership of a party of which I was among the very first members — I was given no notice, no explanation, I was not even given the option of quitting on my own,” Singh said.
Any lingering optimism that the baitak, ostensibly to review the results of the recent elections and to suggest ways to revamp the party, would lead to something constructive can now be consigned to the dustbin. The ritual blood sacrifice has been carried out, and Rajnath Singh has demonstrated that notwithstanding a Vasundhara Raje or two, he is still the boss.
Talk of farce. Jaswant has been asking for the axe ever since he teed off on the party leadership, especially Arun Jaitley, with his famous ‘parinaam aur puraskar’ argument, where he publicly pointed out that Jaitley, the BJP’s chief poll manager, had been rewarded with the post of Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the post Singh himself had held till his recent election to the LS. “Such statements,” Rajnath said then, referring not just to Jaswant but to the larger dissident group of Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Sudheendra Kulkarni among others, “had created the impression that the party was disunited. That is not true.”
Damn right — it isn’t disunited, merely truncated. Sinha quit as party vice president; now Jaswant has been axed; Vasundhara Raje is in the midst of a coup d’etat; and Shourie is a prime candidate for the next round of blood-letting. In all of this, damned if you hear of any quality analysis of the election defeat, and of any Plan B to move the party away from the outdated ‘Ram for votes’ plank and into a more contemporary avtaar.
The next few days will likely bring much more on the topic; meanwhile, a Karan Thapar interview with Jaswant on the book that provided Rajnath his excuse, and the BJP another opportunity to demonstrate that its collective mind is shut air-tight, and that it offers no space for independent thought and opinion.