Three desperate suitors and an unwilling bride


In India, there is always an ongoing election season .Turncoats have always been in demand. But in the past two years we have seen three such desperate suitors knocking desperately at the BJP doors, but have not yet been allowed entry inside the bride’s house. From the outside, it looks like a no-brainer that the national party would accommodate all three of them, but for some reasons, it has not been the case.

Kapil Mishra, a Delhi MLA and an ex-minister in the AAP government, very nearly pulled off a coup against Arvind Kejariwal, in cahoots with Kumar Vishwas. But the party leadership got a whiff of it and promptly threw him out. Since then, Kapil Mishra has been in a constant war mode versus Arvind and SatyendraJain. Not a day passes by without him lampooning or levelling some sensational charges against his former colleagues in the Aam Admi Party. His tweets and press conferences are the most regular features of the Delhi political landscape right now. In this bid to expose and unseat his former boss, he has gradually shifted much closer to the BJP line .His views are more hostile than those  of  the BJP spokespersons, and a casual observer of politics might be forgiven in assuming that Kapil Mishra has already joined  the party.

But that has not yet happened, despite senior leader Vijay Goel’s open invitation to Mishra when he met him as part of the ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ campaign in Delhi. Kapil Mishra actively involved in the Anna movement, and the anti-Commonwealth campaign. He even authored a book titled Common Vs Wealth. His mother is a BJP councillor, and is an ex-mayor of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. Kapil is a good public speaker, has command over both English and Hindi and even took his oath in Sanskrit. He holds a masters degree from Delhi School of Social Work, and has been involved with various social activities and NGOs. Such a politician can be a huge asset for the BJP, then why this delay in inducting him?

Maybe the party reckons that Mishra outside BJP is more of a menace to Kejariwal. The party currently holds all seven Lok Sabha seats and might not be in a position to offer Kapil a ticket. They possibly see him as a candidate for the Assembly polls which are yet far. Then again some local leaders in the BJP might be averse to the idea of an anti-corruption loudmouth joining them. In the meantime, Kapil keeps up his twitter tirade, and awaits his inclusion.

Next is the case of Shehzad Poonawalla who rebelled against the Congress when he claimed that the presidential polls which elevated Rahul Gandhi to the leadership were rigged in latter’s  favour. He challenged Rahul Gandhi to a TV debate and questioned the lack of inner party democracy in the party. Even the PM praised his courage in rebelling against dynastic politics during a political rally in Gujarat.

Since December 2017,he has become a permanent fixture in TV studios where he takes a virulently anti-Congress, pro-government line .He is fluent in both English and Hindi, and describes himself as a lawyer and a civil rights activist. He has been a columnist for Indian Express as well.

About his personal details, he claims his religion is Islam, culture Hindu and ideology Indian. Recently he has even dropped his surname and writes his name as Shehzaad Jai Hind instead. In 2015-16, he sued Ram Gopal Varma for his derogatory comments on Lord Ganesh and forced him to apologise. After rebelling against the Congress, he has written to the CMs of Punjab and JK to accord minority status to Hindus in their respective states. With such credentials, he must win the approval of the Sangh Parivar. One does need somen token liberal Muslim faces as showpieces after all.

Shehzaad is the brother of Tehseen Poonawalla who is married to a cousin of Robert Vadra. He has been an office-bearer in Maharashtra Congress. An ultimate insider, he is penning down a book on dynastic politics which is to be released later this year. One can expect a lot of political fireworks from Shehzaad. A ‘nationalist’, erudite and young Muslim can be asset to the BJP, yet there is no indication that his entry is on cards.

Shehzaad, like Kapil, is also more potent outside the BJP than inside it. He is not seen as a mass leader, and as such, even if he joins the party, cannot be offered a ticket for either the Lok Sabha or the Vidhan Sabha polls. As such there is not much the party can offer him right now. As far as his regular TV appearances go, he does a better job than all the BJP spokespersons put together. But like Kapil, even Shehzaad is not a shoo-in before the 2019 General Elections.

Just the other day, I witnessed Bijayant Panda joining issues with Yogendra Yadav on Rahul Shivshankar’s analysis of the Modi Economic Policies on Times Now. Adorning a saffron kurta, Jay, defended the NDA policies like demonetisation and agricultural policies as his own ,doing better than perhaps what any BJP partyman would have been able.

The four-term MP who faces a criminal suit for submitting a false affidavit related to his income and commercial interests, recently resigned from the Lok Sabha. BJD has already expelled him for anti-party activities. Now Mr. Panda finds himself in political wilderness.

He might have hoped to join the BJP, as a reward for his consistent praise for the NaMo government and also given the fact that the party is keen to build a strong organisation and poach powerful leaders in the state. But it seems the party is not too keen on inducting him, since it might annoy Naveen Patnaik and push him towards the Mahagathbandhan. BJD has stood with the government on various issues like demonetisation, GST, No Trust motion, Presidential and VP polls and the recent election of the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman. In the event of a hung Parliament in 2019, BJP might need Naveen’s help to come back to power. It makes sense to keep him in good humour. Especially, as the party has not been able to make much headway in the state, despite its huge efforts and tall claims.

Jay Panda is an engineering and technology graduate from Michigan Technical University. He has worked with the corporate sector, and has large business interests in mining, energy, real estate and media. He introduced many private members’ bills in 2012-13, and has been involved in many social activities .His wife runs OTV, a private cable TV channel. But in the past few years, Panda has been accused of taking undue benefits in his family businesses by taking advantage of his links with former FM, P. Chidambaram. This, along with the criminal case related to false affidavit, is something which the BJP might not very comfortable with.

Since his outburst against the Odisha CM, he has been greeted with stones, tomatoes and rotten eggs during his public appearances. The local leaders of Odisha BJP, like Dharmendra Pradhan, might not be too keen for his induction either, given that he is not seen as a mass leader. On balance, BJP has not much to gain, and a lot to lose by taking him in the crucial election year. It also doesn’t seem likely that Panda would join Congress. By all indications, TV studios are where he would be spending the next one year rather than entering the din and bustle of elections.

As per my understanding, none of the three desperate suitors would become BJP members in the next one year. They must perform better as circus monkeys if they are to make a favourable impression upon the powers-that-be.

About author

Abhinav Pancholi, IRS, Kolkata. The author is an avid sports lover with a passion for literature.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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