For the past eight years, Lutyens ’media have learned a lesson that they are not trying to speculate on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decisions and if anyone from the BJP ruler tells you that he understands Modi’s mind, then his statement is light. Don’t get news of what these people are saying. You can take his words only as conjectures.
No one was surprised when on Saturday the BJP Parliamentary Board (i.e. Modi) decided to nominate Jagdeep Dhankhar as the party’s candidate for vice president. Anyway, everyone was expecting the unexpected. Draupadi Murmu was also surprised to declare a similar candidate for president. For the post of vice president, some omniscient people named Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as a candidate until Saturday.
Dhankhar and the politics associated with it
Knowledge comes later in the Modi era. Today we understand why Murmu and Dhankhar could not have other names.
How perfect is the name of the governor of West Bengal for the post of vice president! The personality of Yogi Adityanath among the prime ministers of the BJP is the same personality as Dhankhar in the owners of the Raj Bhavans. Both are great sources of inspiration. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was harassed by Dhankhar as much as not all BJP leaders could have done together.
In February, a senior state government bureaucrat wrote to Raj Bhavan indicating a date for convening an assembly session. Raj Bhavan answered him and questioned his qualifications. Later, the governor, while accepting the recommendation of the state cabinet to start the assembly session at 2pm from 6 to 7 March, tweeted that “convening the assembly meeting at 2pm it’s unusual and makes history, but after all, this cabinet is a decision! ‘ The Secretary of State wrote to the Governor asking him that due to a typing error, “2 am.” It was written, please do so “2 PM.” The Raj Bhavan declined and said the chief secretary was not qualified to request this change.The distressed Mamta Banerjee made this request by calling the governor, but without success.The state cabinet had to meet again and send another recommendation for the governor to convene the assembly meeting at 2 p.m. instead of 2 p.m.
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When the state assembly secretariat sent a bill to the governor to make the minister head as rector of state universities, he returned it because the information was “incomplete.” The Secretariat of the Assembly was requested to send transcripts in English of the debate on this bill to the House. Obviously, Jagdeep Dhankhar was giving a small lesson on the constitution and laws to the ministers and bureaucrats of Bengal. He was known to the Supreme Court for more than two decades as a senior lawyer whose qualifications were undermined.
Therefore, Modi knows how useful Dhankhar can be when opposition parties start citing rules to the Rajya Sabha according to his habit. The number of friends they have on either side can also be helpful. Kolkata Raj Bhavan officials can tell you that although they had frequent meetings with Mamata Banerjee, the two did not talk on the phone for less than 10-15 minutes, or their meeting lasted less than 100 minutes. There was an exchange of written messages between the two almost daily.
Therefore, the ability to maintain communication with friends and enemies will be of great use to Dhankhar after he becomes Vice President. He is a very manageable man. Similarly, Draupadi Murmu can also prove to be suitable as a president, as a decorative president.
Read also: Jat votes in Rajasthan: what BJP will gain with the nomination of Jagdeep Dhankhar for the post of vice president
Murmu and Dhankhar useful in Modi 2024 mission
With his nomination and long-awaited election, Modi’s preparations for the Lok Sabha elections of 2024 will begin. As for symbolism, both have political significance in many states. The name of Dhankhar, a prominent Jat leader from Rajasthan, as vice president could help the BJP reach Jats in other states, especially in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. No longer a favorite of the BJP’s high command, former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia may have sidelined Dhankhar in the party for years, but that makes him no less important in Modi-Shah’s eyes. He has been much more loyal to both of them than Vasundhara.
As the president of India, a tribal face, Draupadi Murmu could be useful in the elections to a dozen assemblies before the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. The population of the scheduled tribes is 14.8% in Gujarat , after 5.7% in Himachal Pradesh. Elections are to be held in these two states this year. Of the nine states that will go to the polls next year, four are in the northeast, where tribes play a crucial role. Nagaland (tribal population 86.5%), Meghalaya (86.1%) and Tripura (31.8%) will have elections in February, and Mizoram (94.4%) in November. The tribal population is 7% in Karnataka, where elections will be held in May next year. In the four states where elections will be held in November, Chhattisgarh has 23% tribal population, Madhya Pradesh 21.1%, Rajasthan 13.5% and Telangana 9%. The tribal population in Murmu state itself is 23%, and the assembly elections will be held there along with the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
The tribal population is 26% in Jharkhand, where Murmu, as governor in 2017, blocked two proposed amendments to land lease laws that undermined tribal rights over land and natural resources. Elections will be held in Jharkhand in November 2024. Elections will be held in Maharashtra in October of that year, where the tribal population is 9 percent. Elections in Haryana and Maharashtra will be held simultaneously.
One may question whether the president or vice president can play any role in strengthening the party’s electoral prospects in government? The answer is difficult. In 2017, Ram Nath Kovind, Dalit leader (Kori sub-caste) of Uttar Pradesh became president. According to a poll following the CSDS-Lokniti poll, the percentage of votes of Jatav voters in the BJP-led alliance increased from 8 in 2017 to 22 in 2022, and the share of non-Jatav voters increased from 32% to 41% one hundred in the same period.
But it is difficult to draw conclusions from these figures, as the share of BSP votes declined. Dalit votes polled by the SP-led alliance during the same period ranged from 3% to 9% for Jatav votes and non-Jatav votes in the same period, from 11 to 23 percent. In addition, Venkaiah Naidu becoming vice president did not help the BJP in Andhra Pradesh in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP did not get a single seat there, while Venkaiah Naidu also belonged to the Kamma community as Chandrababu Naidu . According to the poll following the CSDS-Lokniti poll, Jagan Mohan Reddy’s TDP and YSRCP captured together 95 percent of the Kamma votes.
It can be said that the identity of the President of India may influence the elections, so Congress should have returned to West Bengal with Pranab Mukherjee in the presidency between 2012-17. Similarly, when Hamid Ansari was vice president from 2007 to 2017, Congress should have strengthened its position in Uttar Pradesh and at least among Muslims. Nothing similar happened in Congress in other states, neither in West Bengal nor in Uttar Pradesh.
Modi-Shah’s BJP is certainly not Congress. Look at Yashwant Sinha and Margaret Alva, who have been nominated by the opposition for the posts of president and vice president. Sinha belongs to the Kayastha community and can barely do anything at the BJP polling station in his own state of Jharkhand, while Alva of the Christian community has almost no political importance in his own state of Karnataka.
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