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BJP karyakartas are raised to put the party first from an early age.
These professionals find their guiding concept put to the test as they frequently ascent to the top.
The glue that holds the BJP together—apart from ideology—is how most people have negotiated the fork in the road and prioritized the party before personal gain.
As the Maharashtra political odyssey came to a close with the swearing-in of dissident Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as Chief Minister, two sacrifices stood out.
First, Uddhav Thackeray, the former chief minister and president of the Sena party, tried to portray himself as a martyr for the Hindutva cause by renaming Aurangabad and Osmanabad before leaving the political arena. Congress, the other alliance partner, was adamantly opposed to this contentious topic. The Supreme Court scheduled a floor test the night before Thackeray's resignation, but it was canceled after the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government withdrew from the race. To their dismay, Thackeray's emotional appeal to his "sainiks" failed to convince them to re-join the parent fold, which had "diluted" Hindutva doctrine to be agreeable to Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, its "unnatural" alliance partners (NCP).
Second, Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP, who helped the party gain more votes in the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections and undermine the 31-month-old MVA government, was appointed as Shinde's deputy after previously serving as the leader of the government for five years between 2014 and 2019. Fadnavis gave his life in the party's name.
Whether the BJP's opponents like it or not, they might want to borrow a page from the ruling party's playbook in order to cultivate a cadre that is rewarded for loyalty while also being able to forfeit those rewards - willingly or unwillingly - if it suits the party. Ideology and party are the glue that holds the BJP together.
It appeared as though Fadnavis will be sworn in as the CM for a third time the day before the scheduled but postponed floor test. In anticipation, ladoos were given out, but the sweet taste of triumph was not. Then, Fadnavis declared that he would support the Shinde-led government from the outside rather than join it. After receiving several messages from BJP top brass, it was determined that Fadnavis would be Shinde's deputy and play a significant role in the government. And 51-year-old Fadnavis followed orders. When he assumed leadership in 2014, he was the second-youngest chief minister of Maharashtra, and he still has time on his side to achieve many more political achievements. Whatever the cost to Fadnavis, the politician from Nagpur has prioritized the party before personal gain.
Not only the young, but the BJP old guard has made "sacrifices" for the party even when their only options for the future were to fade into political obscurity as "margdarshaks" (guides/mentors) or retire. As the younger leader was elevated above him to manage the party's 2014 election campaign, LK Advani, the man who supported PM Narendra Modi and wrote the BJP's ascension in national politics, was furious for a moment. He signaled his unhappiness in 2013 by resigning from all party positions, and many senior leaders sprang into action to appease him. However, after the saffron party's impressive victory, Advani eventually backed Modi and even showed up for his swearing-in ceremony.
Sushma Swaraj, the former minister of external affairs who was mentored by LK Advani and secured a berth in the top four ministries of the Modi cabinet, was also reportedly furious by the exclusion of her mentor. She nevertheless played a significant part in appeasing Advani, and the BJP-RSS made sure that the change of power in 2014 went smoothly, as opposed to the embarrassment it experienced in 2013 as a result of Advani's vocal opposition.
The BJP's organizational commitment, which it shares with the Communist Parties, is what gives it its competitive edge. However, the BJP has gained more adherents thanks to its staunchly held ideological position than the Left has. But as long as one knows where to draw the "Lakshman Rekha," wooing unlikely allies for power is acceptable. Uddhav Thackeray disregarded this even as he paid visits to Ayodhya to maintain the party's Hindutva origins.
The BJP continues to win elections and engineer the government, which gives karyakartas a stronger sense of investment and ownership.
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