The timing of Gadkari’s statement is intriguing, and gives weight to the speculations.
If politics is an art, Union minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari is more of an artist. Just like art is left open to interpretation, Gadkari leaves room in his comments to be interpreted in different ways.
At an event in Mumbai on January 27, Gadkari said that “People like (political) leaders who show them big dreams. But if these dreams are not realised, then they beat them up (politically) as well. Therefore, one should only commit what they can fulfill.”
Political watchers and many in the Opposition were quick to see his comments as an indirect message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. Given that the Opposition and many sections in society are accusing the BJP of failing fulfil the promises it made in 2014, such an extrapolation is not outlandish.
Gadkari has also left enough room to deny any malice towards fellow partymen and accuse the Opposition of reading too much into his statements — much like he did in December. Last month, a little over a week after the BJP lost power in three Hindi heartland states, Gadkari said that "leadership should have the 'vrutti' [tendency] to own up the defeat and failures.” Then also the Opposition attributed his comments as a veiled message to Shah and Modi. Later Gadkari said that he was ‘misquoted’.
What’s intriguing about Gadkari’s comments is the timing at which it comes. With general elections most likely to be held in less than three months and with the BJP on the back foot, is Gadkari positioning himself as a consensus candidate in the event the BJP requires support from its allies to form a government at the Centre? Is this the Plan B of the BJP if the party fails to win a majority in Lok Sabha? Is this a sign of the cracks in the BJP edifice Modi and Shah have built?
At the moment, much of this is in the realm of speculation. However, there is one thing that is increasingly becoming certain: The BJP is not showing the confidence by now associated with the party; it appears a bit wary, perhaps even rattled.For more Opinion pieces, click here.