There are perceptible differences over ideology and nationalism between the Janata Dal United and BJP, both coalition partners in Bihar, but there is no prospect of the two parties parting ways over the extremist saffron leader, Pragya Thakur, a candidate for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, praising Nathuram Godse, assassin of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The RJD leader,Tejaswi Prasad, asking the JDU to break up with BJP is unlikely to be heeded.
While the Bihar chief minister, Mr. Nitish Kumar, has demanded that the BJP consider expelling its Pragya Singh Thakur from the party for describing Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, as a patriot, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will never forgive her for her disrespect to the Father of the Nation. But expulsion is the job of the party chief, Mr. Amit Shah, and the disciplinary committee of the BJP.
The Janata Dal (United) is led by Nitish Kumar and he heads the coalition government in Bihar in partnership with the BJP. He said: “The BJP should think about such comments. Her statement is highly condemnable and her expulsion “must be considered. It is an internal matter of the BJP, but as far as the country or JD(U)’s ideology is concerned, there is no question of tolerating such things”. In spite of this strong reaction, JDU coalition government with the BJP is not affected in Bihar, but some differences of opinion could be aired over certain issues, now that the elections are over.
Reacting to the demand for Thakur’s expulsion, Bihar state BJP chief, Devesh Kumar, said Prime Minister Modi said that in spite of her apology, he would never forgive her for her comments, which were incorrect and not good for society. She has criticized even Mr. Hemant Karkare, a police officer, who was killed when he was fighting 26/11 terrorists in Mumbai. The Times of India newspaper has pointed out that it is untenable for Mr Amit Shah to have described her candidature from Bhopal as “satyagrah”.
At a press conference Mr.Amit Shah said that the disciplinary committee of the party will review Thakur’s response and take a decision on the matter. Mr. Modi said in an interview to a TV channel in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district that while Thakur has apologised, Nobel Prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi, said that people like Pragya were not just killing the soul of the father of the nation but also killing the soul of india as well as the ideas of non-violence, peace and tolerance. Mahatma Gandhi is above every party and politics. The BJP leadership must renounce the desire for small benefits and immediately expel her from the party and follow its “‘raj dharma” or the duty of governance.
The BJP is riding a wave of confidence after exit polls of the Lok Sabha elections have given it a clear prospect of outright victory. Some people might be keeping their fingers crossed whether the exit polls will be proven wrong or reveal minor changes in the trends. This is giving the BJP and RSS enormous confidence of being able to rule India for the next five years.
Whatever happens the Congress, whether it wins or loses, expects to emerge as a reguar Opposition party with more than 55 to 100 seats, duly recognized and designated in the upcoming Lok Sabha. But the euphoria in the BJP camp may appear to be huge, provided the BJP can win an outright majority for itself and can count on its own strength, besides that of supporting parties.
A major grievance of the smaller parties is that elections have been held in the hottest part of the summer, they would have preferred the voting to have been held between February and April or October and November for the convenience of the voters. They would have also liked that the phases of voting were three or four rather than seven spread over 40 days.
There have been differences within the Election Commission and one of its members, Mr.Ashok Lavasa, wrote dissenting notes disagreeing with the Chief Election Commissioner and the third members over allegedly going soft on enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct, especially with the ruling BJP. But the CEC said that such differences were common in the past.
Lalit Sethi is a Journalist of long standing and a commentator on Political and Social Issues.