By Anindya Banerjee
New Delhi/Bhopal: After his successful role in ‘Operation Kamal’ that toppled the Kamal Nath government and brought Jyotiraditya Scindia on the BJPs side, BJPs new ‘Mr Dependable in Madhya Pradesh has another task cut out for him – to quell a rebellion. While minister Narottam Mishra has already started working on it for more than a week now, the Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP is a house on fire ahead of the crucial bypolls.
A few days back Mishra went to meet Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya, an old BJP hand who is not happy with Scindia’s induction into the party. Deeply entrenched in Sangh ideology, Pawaiya is also an accused in the Babri demolition case. Sources close to him say he sees the induction as “Congress-isation of BJP”. With the Madhya Pradesh bypolls impending, an unhappy Pawaiya can prove costly for the BJP with his influence in the Gwalior-Chambal area. No wonder, Mishra went to his residence to appease him. But even after the meeting, Pawaiya asserted that the cadres need to be “listened to”.
He thrives on anti-Scindia politics. The man had contested against both father and son.
He is also said to have met MP Vivek Shejwalkar and former minister Maya Singh. However, not everyone has an issue with Scindia himself. The Shejwalkar faction is strongly opposed to the faction led by central minister Narendra Tomar. In fact, the Tomar faction recently came out in the open against Shejwalkar’s special appointment Kamal Makhijani as BJP’s Gwalior district president. However, sources say Narottam Mishra is banking on the state RSS as Shejwalkar’s father was a functionary.
Senior BJP leader Hitesh Vajpayee has conceded that there is growing dissent within the MP BJP, however he refused to give it too much importance. “These are matters related to the political survival of a few leaders. Things will be sorted out in the coming days,” he told IANS.
While Mishra is considered a Scindia loyalist, what makes the central BJP trust him with appeasing those who are upset because of Scindia in the first place?
He is known to be mild mannered which makes him the right person for negotiations and also his recent proximity to Amit Shah, says a BJP leader with a keen interest in MP politics. This April, Mishra was given Z category security which many see as a result of his proximity to the union home minister.
But what will be the litmus test for Mishra will be to convince Deepak Joshi, a former MLA from Dewas district. He has taken the rebellion to a different level where he openly questioned the candidature of Manoj Patel, a recent turncoat who switched to the BJP. This has been seen as “anti- party activity”. Joshi’s father was the first BJP CM of the state and hence any disciplinary action against him may be counterproductive for the BJP at this point.
Another concern for Mishra will be Prabhat Jha, who too is said to be sulking, however not as openly as Joshi. While Jha has not made any comments so far that can be construed as “anti- party” and claimed that the BJP will get 23 out of 24 seats in the upcoming bypolls, the BJP is concerned about sabotage.
A senior BJP leader from Madhya Pradesh told IANS on condition of anonymity that “This was bound to happen. The state is riddled with factions. Bringing in Congressmen and replacing old hands didn’t serve the purpose.”
Meanwhile, the man in question – Narottam Mishra, who is not only entrusted by the BJP leadership to firefight but simultaneously needs to uphold the image of Scindia as a force to reckon with in the Gwalior area, laughs it off while preparing for the virtual rally by Nitin Gadkari. Sixteen of the 24 seats where elections will be held are in the Gwalior-Chambal region, the citadel of Jyotiraditya Scindia.
One BJP General Secretary, when asked about the house on fire had this to sum up, “We will deal with it. But the political equation of ‘India ka dil’ is far more complex than it seems to any outsider.”
(Anindya Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])