UP, MP, Karnataka, Bengal: Decoding the widening rift within BJP

While elections had just concluded in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will go to polls next year, reports of rift within the party in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have added to the woes of the top leadership.

Except BS Yediyurappa, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and West Bengal LoP Suvendu Adhikari had already held separate meetings with PM Modi.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is faced with an unprecedented situation in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh with dissent pouring in from the rank and file. While elections had just concluded in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will go to polls next year, reports of rift within the party in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have added to the woes of the top leadership which is already facing criticism over its handling of the second Covid wave.

In Bengal, where the saffron party emerged as the sole opposition party in the assembly by winning 77 seats, various TMC turncoats who joined the BJP are now trying to return to their parent party. With the return of Mukul Roy, speculations are rife that several other BJP MLAs are in touch with Roy and may jump ship. The dissent became clear when Suvendu Adhikari led party MLAs to meet the governor on June 14. However, over 20 MLAs skipped the meeting, sending a message that they are unhappy with the party’s recent moves, which reportedly includes the elevation of Adhikari. This, in fact, is being seen as the key reason behind Mukul Roy’s return. Many of the missing legislators also known for their proximity to Roy might desert the party. While the BJP had faced workers’ ire in ticket distributions, many leaders reportedly claim that their concerns are not being addressed by the senior state leaders including party chief Dilip Ghosh.

CM Mamata Banerjee had also hinted that some BJP leaders may join the TMC in the coming days. However, the BJP, which often manages to bag a large chunk of opposition leaders, is yet to clear its stand over the MLAs who escaped the meeting with the governor.

In Uttar Pradesh, where Yogi Adityanath is being projected as one of the best CMs, all is not well within the party. Some party MLAs have openly said that the leadership was unresponsive to the people’s woes. On the other hand, a poor show by the party in the Panchayat polls also forced the top leadership to introspect. All this buzz was followed by BJP General Secretary BL Santhosh holding a meeting with state ministers and later CM Adityanath himself touring Delhi to meet Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda and PM Narendra Modi. The meeting also comes in wake of alleged differences between PM Modi and CM Adityanath. With the BJP already starting its preparations for the next year’s poll, the party may take note of dissenters while deciding the tickets. It won’t be surprising if some current BJP MLAs decide to join opposition parties as we near the polls.

The most vocal infighting is ensuing within the BJP is in Karnataka. The talks of replacing CM BS Yediyurappa have been going around for quite some time now and many state leaders have conveyed their concern to the party high command. There have been allegations of corruption against BSY’s son BY Vijayendra. While Yediyurappa is not ready to relinquish the chair, reports claim that over 50 MLAs have voiced their support for a new CM. BJP MLC AH Vishwanath has openly said that there is a need for a change in the leadership and the party may lose the next assembly polls if Yediyurappa continues to be the CM. On June 17, senior party leader Arjun Singh visited Karnataka and met senior ministers and party leaders amid the reports of dissents. While state ministers claimed that there won’t be a change in the leadership, Vishwanath claimed that more than 80 per cent of the leaders who met Singh said that leadership must be changed. Now, it will be important to see whether the party leadership can afford to go against the will of BSY in the state or not.

On the other hand, in Madhya Pradesh, reports of an organisation reshuffle are doing rounds. On June 16, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan even paid a visit to Delhi where he met PM Modi and other party leaders. However, given the state’s comparatively better handling of COVID-19 and upcoming civic polls, the BJP may not be willing to disturb the status quo, fearing its repercussions.

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