Is Venkaiah Naidu’s Shift As Vice-President Modi’s Masterstroke?
Hyderabad: When Venkaiah Naidu, who was till Monday the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, was sounded out for the post of Vice-President a couple of days ago by BJP President Amit Shah, his response was “no”. Sixty-nine is a fairly young age for a person full of promise to get into a relatively sinecure position with hardly any politics involved.
His repartee, which is on record, was typical Venkaiah Naiduish. “I would rather be Ushapati than Upa-Rashtrapati,” was the pithy one-liner, Usha being his wife’s name. But when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at whose behest Amit Shah had approached him, goaded him, Naidu had to accept the Vice-President’s candidature, for his alma mater, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, too was for it.
What sweetened the deal was the hint that he could also be in line for post of the president in 2023. Though that is quite far away in terms of politics, Venkaiah Naidu willy-nilly accepted it.
But why he when he would have been far more effective and useful as an active politician and Union Minister, defending BJP and RSS from the Opposition’s barbs, while launching his own onslaughts against his party’s distracters? There lies the answer to the conundrum, though it might sound too farfetched.
BJP feels, and confidently, that it is there to rule India for a long time to come, with Modi laying the foundation for a rosy future of the saffron party. Sooner or later, there will be vocalisations that there ought to be another leader who should be groomed keeping in view the future leadership requirements, “as anything could happen.” Not far will be pressure that “ab ki baari, South ki baari” (let the next turn be that of the South). And who better a leader than a sharp, witty, profound, assertive and quick-on-the-uptake Venkaiah Naidu? Sounds implausible? Yes, but it is not impossible! Nothing is impossible in politics.
There are examples that will bear testimony. Take LK Advani, the veteran warhorse, who made BJP the formidable entity it is today, though the charm and cosmetique of Atal Behari Vajpayee too played quite a part. A revealing tightly-cropped picture is available on the social media showing Narendra Modi holding a hand mike, while Advani is addressing the public. Advani was then on his Rath Yatra and Modi was the advanced guard preparing the venues and other infrastructure for the stalwart’s next meetings.
Then came the bid for Prime Ministership in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Though the BJP patriarch moved all his sinews, they came to a naught, because Modi was nominated as BJP’s candidate for the Prime Minister’s post. Advani did win that election, but ended up being a coddled “margadarshak” in the company of other BJP stalwarts Murli Manohar Joshi and Atal Behari Vajpayee. While Vajpayee is convalescing, the remaining two are nursing their wounds.
There were two other Prime Ministerial aspirants prior to 2014, apart from Advani – Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj. Jaitley was quick to make his peace by siding with Modi. Sushma was a bright face of the BJP but did not have the backing of RSS. She ended up with the Foreign Ministry. A major point in the media is that Modi travels abroad far more than the Foreign Minister does.
What Modi-Shah combination now is what Vajpayee-Advani was in the past. The latter brought the BJP to power, though in a coalition. The former duo got a majority for the BJP all by itself in the latest round, though the government is still a coalition. The Modi-Shah stars are shining bright and enough care should be taken to ensure that they get no blight!