New Delhi, Apr 15 : From a key player in 2019 polls to the obvious fading star, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is all rolled into one. This uniqueness may not be his USP, but such an image also helps. He has always charmed political observers, friends and foes by a distinguishable low profile that does not threaten competitors. In December 2005, when he was first made BJP president, the talk of the town was he would easily play second fiddle to the likes of Pramod Mahajan.
Now seeking re-election from Lucknow, none among his voters is perhaps sure that Rajnath Singh would continue as country’s Home Minister or he would also be gradually pushed into oblivion. Mr Singh, 67 is already a member of Marg Darshak Mandal wherein two veterans L K Advani and M M Joshi have been already put into forced retirement from electoral politics. Is Singh the next? In the new Lok Sabha, will he be the new chairman of Estimates Committee as was Mr Joshi or chairman of Ethics Committee like Mr Advani – which hardly held any sittings? Even the Narada video bribe tape involving Trinamool Congress leaders hardly came up before the panel headed by Mr Advani.
After he took over as the BJP national president succeeding Rajnath Singh, on August 26, 2014 Amit Shah announced the constitution of a five-member body Marg Darshak Mandal comprising Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, M M Joshi and that also includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh. But politically, Rajnath Singh has always had a mind of his own and in May 2014 – days before BJP stormed to power with record 282 members win, he has told this correspondent that “If there is a Jugal Bandi (friendship) between me and Narendra Modi, it will be for long term”.
Rajnath Singh was made Home Minister and given ‘number two’ berth in cabinet in 2014, but the grapevine is --- his powers were scuttled. The answers for many of questions on this lay in the womb of time. Mr Singh’s admirers say in the run-up to the 2014 polls – designating Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate – Rajnath Singh played a ‘passive partner’ readily and in cricketing term it was like ‘Chetan Chauhan role to opening sensation Sunil Gavaskar’. A role that was so vital but that would be hardly celebrated.
The media and often the ivory tower experts never found him a ‘potential PM material’ and the reason for this could be many. One, he is neither articulate with one-liner quotes, nor he has the knack of ‘leaking’ out juicy stories in off the record briefing.
In 2014, thus it was not without good reason a periodical ‘Power Politics’ wrote: “The single most important force that removed the party’s internal obstacles in Narendra Modi’s way to Prime Ministership and brought BJP to the striking distance of national power is none other than Rajnath Singh”. Only posterity will judge whether such laudatory remarks on a man – who got the ‘second chance’ to be president of BJP perhaps due to an accident as his illustrious predecessor in January 2013 had to quit due to ‘Purti scandal’.
By all arguments, in a knee-jerk but quick decision, Rajnath Singh was a compromise choice after Yashwant Sinha, now a hardcore BJP critic, gave up his idea of filing the nomination papers for election as BJP national president. Sinha was determined to oppose Nitin Gadkari’s renomination. Rajnath Singh’s elevation as BJP chief certainly had RSS blessings and also green signals from L K Advani and some ‘ambitious’ leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley too thought Mr Rajnath will be ‘pliable’. However, after his re-election as party president, Rajnath was more firm about things and risked a lot when he first made Modi the chairman of election campaign committee in Goa in June 2013 and later Modi was also made BJP’s prime ministerial candidate on September 13, 2013.
In the bargain, he provoked patriarch Advani’s anguish and in Bihar, JD(U) walked out of the NDA. The rest as they say is history. In his new ‘avtaar’ as party chief, Rajnath Singh displayed purpose in his moves and soon he began his manoeuvres to ‘reinvent’ BJP and make optimum use of the gap created by UPA’s failures. Uma Bharati was brought back to the BJP and Modi was made a member of the party’s highest policy making body the Parliamentary Board. He also had assigned Amit Shah the task of Uttar Pradesh where BJP’s vote share had dropped and oragnisational weakness was at its peak. BJP and NDA returned to power, but Rajnath Singh glories were overshadowed by Modi charishma. Finally, just days ahead of another round of elections for Mr Singh, political watchers say the story of his political journey, his success has merged with the tales of someone who shines in ‘reflected glory’. (UNI)