BJP steps up as­sault on ri­vals, eyes supremacy

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL - — Reuters

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s rul­ing al­liance is step­ping up its as­sault on the op­po­si­tion Congress party as it looks to ex­pand its na­tional dom­i­nance and moves closer to se­cur­ing a ma­jor­ity in the up­per house of par­lia­ment. Modi won the big­gest man­date in 30 years in the 2014 gen­eral elec­tion, giv­ing him con­trol of the lower house. But his na­tion­al­ist coali­tion still lacks a ma­jor­ity in the up­per house that rep­re­sents In­dia’s 29 states and has proven to be a stum­bling block for its leg­isla­tive agenda.

His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been chip­ping away at that prob­lem. It re­cently won the back­ing of some op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers to se­cure the elec­tion of its can­di­date Ram Nath Kovind as pres­i­dent. The party also joined a coali­tion in the big north­ern state of Bi­har, in the process de­mol­ish­ing an op­po­si­tion al­liance that had dealt it its only ma­jor elec­tion de­feat since 2014. With Bi­har, Modi gained 10 more up­per-house seats. That brings his na­tion­al­ist al­liance’s tally to 89 seats - still short of, but in­creas­ingly within reach of, a sim­ple ma­jor­ity of 123 seats.

Now, the BJP has turned its at­ten­tion to a fight that could in­crease its strength in the up­per house and deal Congress another blow. BJP Pres­i­dent Amit Shah and another Modi loy­al­ist are run­ning for re­elec­tion to the up­per house from Gu­jarat, the prime min­is­ter’s west­ern home state. They are also aim­ing for a third seat from the state, held by Ahmed Pa­tel, Congress Pres­i­dent So­nia Gandhi’s clos­est aide, for the past 24 years.

Wrest­ing away Pa­tel’s seat could fi­nally con­sign to the his­tory books an era in which the Nehru-Gandhi dy­nasty of the Congress party pro­duced three In­dian prime min­is­ters. “If her main man can’t get the sup­port of Congress, it means that So­nia Gandhi’s grip over the party is gone,” Ra­jdeep Sarde­sai, a lead­ing tele­vi­sion an­chor and Modi bi­og­ra­pher, told Reuters. Pa­tel was not avail­able for com­ment.

“The re­sults of the Gu­jarat elec­tion will prove that Congress is bro­ken, dis­man­tled and they have noth­ing to of­fer to their mem­bers and to the coun­try,” said Bhu­pen­der Ya­dav, the BJP’s na­tional gen­eral sec­re­tary. “We are in the best pos­si­ble sce­nario.” Half a dozen Congress law­mak­ers from the state have de­fected ahead of the Aug. 8 vote in which they will elect three up­per house mem­bers.

In re­sponse, the Congress evac­u­ated more than 40 of its law­mak­ers from Gu­jarat to a golf ho­tel out­side the south­ern city of Ben­galuru. They are at the Ea­gle­ton coun­try club, which bills it­self “a lux­ury coun­try club and world-class re­sort”.

Shankar Sinh Vagela, one de­fec­tor, de­rided Congress as a “rud­der­less ship” un­able to win elec­tions. “Dis­con­tent has been sim­mer­ing for a long time, but no one from Congress head­quar­ters was pay­ing at­ten­tion,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.