Silent Rebel Sushma Plays A Wait-and-Watch Game

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Amid mur­murs she may be made the Lok Sabha Speaker, her men­tor Ad­vani is likely to in­sist that she be given a plum port­fo­lio

Herop­po­si­tion­toNaren­dra Modi and his camp in the BJP is an open se­cret. Thoughshe­has­rarely spo­ken against the party line in pub­lic, Sushma Swaraj of­ten gives broad hints about her d i s a g r e e me n t with party de­cis i o ns. A s i l e nt rebel, the 62-year-old is play­ing a wait-and­watch game. With the prospects of Modi be­com­ing Prime Min­is­ter at an all-time high, there are spec­u­la­tions about Swaraj’s role i n t h e Uni o n Cab­i­net. “She is the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion in (out­go­ing) Lok Sabha and is a se­nior leader of the party. She will get a good port­fo­lio,” one of the party’s top lead­ers told ET when asked about Swaraj. AspertheWest­min­ster­model that In­dia adopted, Swaraj was the shadow prime min­is­ter in her ca­pac­ity as the op­po­si­tion leader in the 15th Lok Sabha. While there have been mur­murs that­she­maybe­made­theLSS­peaker,

A SE­NIOR BJP LEADER A lot will de­pend on Modi.... Swaraj may be given the Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs or HRD min­istry

her men­tor LK Ad­vani has al­ways put her on a par with Modi and is likely to in­sist that she be given a plum port­fo­lio. A fiery or­a­tor, Swaraj her­self is not likely to agree to be­come a mod­er­a­tor in de­bates in the Lower House and would like to be a part of the govern­ment, sources said. Swaraj, along with Ad­vani and Murli Manohar Joshi, was op­posed to the anoint­mentof Mo­di­as­thep­arty’scam­paign­com­mit­teechief in­June.Thetrio had also ex­pressed their dis­agree­ment to Modi be­ing named BJP’s PM can­di­date but the party and the RSS pre­vailed and an­nounced the de­ci­sion.

Ad­va­niandJoshi,both­intheireight­ies now, are un­likely to work in a Cab­i­net led by Modi and may pre­fer to walk into the sun­set. But Swaraj still hasa­long­po­lit­i­cal­ca­reer­a­headof her. Party in­sid­ers say she may even get one of the four key min­istries. “Alotwillde­pen­donModi,es­pe­cially if the BJP wins a good num­ber of seats. Swaraj may be given the ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry or hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment,” a se­nior party leader said. In the erst­while NDA govern­ment,Swara­jhad­workedashealth min­is­ter, and also as the in­for­ma­tion and broad­cast­ing min­is­ter. Swaraj may have spo­ken out rarely against the party – she had made lib­eral use of her Twit­ter han­dle to do so – but her op­po­si­tion to Modi and oth­ers in his camp is well-known. She has cul­ti­vated her own camp around Mad­hya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other lead­ers. Dur­ing the LS polls cam­paign, the se­nior leader con­fined her­self to her con­stituency, Vidisha, and some seats in Mad­hya Pradesh. Her de­trac­tors say she rarely men­tioned Modi in her ini­tial cam­paign but was forced to praise him as the cam­paign pro­gressed as she was not sure of a good mar­gin. While “Abki baar Modi Sarkar” posters were put up in Vidisha by the cen­tral cam­paign man­agers, those from the state dis­played her pic­ture along with those of Chouhan and Modi. Chouhan has stood by her all along and even par­tic­i­pated in her road show on the last day of cam­paign­ing. “She did not in­vite any se­nior leader to­cam­paign,un­likeother­central­lead­ers. Chouhan cam­paigned there as he did in other MP seats in his ca­pac­ity as CM of the state. In Bho­jpur, a Vid­han Sabha seat un­der Vidisha, ac­tor­turned politi­cians from Bi­har – Sha­trughan Sinha and Manoj Te­wari – were in­vited to cam­paign as there is a siz­able Bi­hari pop­u­la­tion there,” a close aide of her said.

Swara­jal­so­did­not­in­volve­herdaugh­ter or hus­band in her can­vass­ing. Swara­jhas­not­been­muchin­de­mand for­cam­paigninginthisLS­elec­tion­sas most of the at­ten­tion has been on Modi.Whileshe­wastiedupinVidisha and other MP seats till the sixth phase (April24),Swara­js­pareda­dayeach­for cam­paign­ing in Delhi and Haryana. Even af­ter April 24, Swaraj did not cam­paign as ex­ten­sively as in the past (she had ad­dressed 50 pub­lic meet­ings for the Delhi elec­tions in Novem­berDe­cem­ber). She cam­paigned for a day each in Gu­jarat, Te­lan­gana and Ut­tarak­hand and then ad­dressed some ral­lies in east­ern UP and Bi­har.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, Swaraj kept away from Ame­thi though the party had an­nounced that she would cam­paign there against Rahul Gandhi. She also did not visit Varanasi, un­like other lead­ers who made a bee­line to the holy city to can­vas for Modi. Swaraj had ruf­fled some feath­ers in the BJP when the party was look­ing for new al­lies. She ex­pressed her dif­fer­ences with BJP brass on in­duct­ing Sri­ra­mulu,acloseasso­ci­a­teof min­ing barons Reddy broth­ers She also op­posed NDA ally HJC’s move to in­duct Venod Sharma, a for­mer Congress man and money bag, into the party. Whether these voices of dis­sent from her will harm her prospects or she will still play a sig­nif­i­cant role in Modi Sarkar will be clear in the com­ing days. Dis­carded by Congress, fed­er­a­tive im­pulses of the In­dian polity re­turn with the as­cent of Modi who has shown a chief min­is­ter’s gov­er­nance record and achieve­ments can be lever­aged to build and sus­tain a na­tional iden­tity

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.