All eyes on Santhosh's visit !
Image conscious Modi and BJP's 'Nagaland strategy'

Source: Nirendra Dev *

New Delhi, August 25 2022: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was perhaps embarrassed when as a BJP leader she was asked to impose President's Rule in Nagaland -- where her party is a crucial partner in the ruling alliance.

Was she not embarrassed when journalists wanted to know whether Nagaland's ill is 'financial mismanagement' or 'under-funding'? Worse, she did not have an answer! .

Image conscious Prime Minister Narendra Modi has his own style of functioning, taking decisions and exercising his authority.

Sometimes these are called 'autocratic', at times whimsical and sometimes even unpredictable.

The nomination of former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, now Union Minister, to the BJP Parliamentary Board had a few messages which not many people could appreciate.

Sonowal has rightly thanked the Prime Minister.

In the past there have been such peculiar instances too.

The sudden rise of two women politicians Smriti Irani and Nirmala Sitharaman in 2014 would not have happened if not due to Late Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti.

In Modi's scheme of things, the 'two senior BJP old hats' were probable trouble makers.

Uma Bharti has been a mass leader on her own right once and had the right caste equation in her favour for doing politics in northern and central India.

Earlier Pramod Mahajan and Arun Jaitley had gauged the 'danger potentials' of Uma Bharti and this opened the floodgates of fate and opportunities of onetime shy MP, Shivraj Singh Chauhan.

In 2014 vis-a-vis Lok Sabha polls and the results, Sushma was still being 'ambitious' and at times arrogant.

She had declined to accompany leaders such as Rajnath Singh, Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari when they had gone to Gandhinagar to call on the 'future PM' .

So, the rise of Smriti Irani and Nirmala Sitharaman was surprising but backed by political logic.

Ms Sitharaman has remained a favourite and chosen colleague of PM Modi since 2014.In 2017, she was made country's first Defence Minister and in 2019 as Jaitley stayed out of the cabinet due to health reasons, she was chosen as Finance Minister.

Ms Sitharaman has just wrapped up her visit to Nagaland.

It was a good and unique exercise by any Finance Minister for three days.

The ED comes under the Finance Ministry.

Nagaland's nascent Rising People's Party (RPP) appealed to FM Sitharaman to promulgate President's Rule in the state and cited CAG report to substantiate their demand.

The message has been going around even after PM Modi's August 15 speech that in Nagaland 'corruption' is an issue or a way of life! Corruption sustains normal life, politics and insurgency as well.

The Prime Minister need not be told these, say key sources.

After July 26th the BJP-NDPP seat share deal, words spread about resentment in the Nagaland unit of the saffron party.

Only a great deal of persuasive skills prevented the fallout so far.

Here comes the relevance of B L Santhosh's visit to Kohima and other areas including Tuensang.

Important engagement will be the meeting over dinner between BJP national general secretary organisation and Chief Minister Rio.

Now, Sonowal's elevation to the Parliamentary Board - the Lotus outfit's highest policy making body -was in effect a message to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma -- don't do and push things which are not your subject.

In the past, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav was removed and one angle was Nagaland and northeast 'mess up' .

Himanta did his part to seal the 20:40 seat share in favour of the NDPP.

Many in BJP ask a simple question -- why? .

If it was to work for Solution in peace parleys, so far no positive outcome.

Even on Aug 22 the day Nirmala Sitharaman was urging corporate houses to invest in India, the statement came that the Flag and a separate Constitution are still pending issues.

Things are premature, but from BJP's perspective B L Santhosh's visit is very important.

Will he get the right message? Will the central BJP act accordingly ? .

Political challenges do keep coming to political parties as the Indian middle class leap from one problem to the other.

But still some hopes rest on B L Santhosh's visit.

Hopes from BJP Karyakartas that the seat alliance announced between BJP and NDPP -- cleared by powerful Amit Shah - would be reviewed, if not revoke it completely.

Of course it is not for the first time that the BJP in Nagaland is facing such challenges; but the enormity of the current issue is far more serious.

It could be called a crisis of serious magnitude, because many say if 2023 'good mood among Nagas' is missed, the saffron party may not get yet another chance to strike back.

Modi and his team will do well to note that Nagas are an extremely emotional community.

They also say at least India's ruling party deserves 30 seats ! .

"Everyone wants a course correction in the state....

and more than everyone is looking towards the BJP to do it.

We never said Congress could do it even during its golden era" .

* The sender of this news can be contacted at nirendev1(AT)gmail(DOT)com .

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