Show us the way: BJP turns to Margdarshaks
When Narendra Modi took oath as Prime Minister in May 2014, he decided to make his Cabinet young, energetic and active. The unwritten rule was no minister above the age of 75.
Bharatiya Janata Party's elders were kept aside despite winning elections. It was said some of the 'old guard' should get some rest and provide their 'guidance' to the party and the government from time to time.
Thus was formed the Margadarshak Mandal, which included stalwarts like former deputy PM Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi as well as Shanta Kumar.
At times these senior leaders were left unattended and uninvited at party functions. Finding themselves ignored, they decided to restrict their participation to the least. In fact, the veterans were noticed more for their dissent and disagreements with the current leadership.
But now, when they have added a couple of years more to their age, BJP has decided to bring them back on board. The party brass seems to have realised the difficulty of managing the business of the two Houses in Parliament in an appropriate manner.
Three parliamentary committees have been reconstituted and the three veterans - L K Advani, M M Joshi and Shanta Kumar - have been placed in them: Advani and Kumar in the Committee on Public Undertakings and Joshi in the Committee on Estimates. There terms will start 1 May.
From the parliamentary committees to the day-to-day business - those who have been representing the government in the Houses do not have much experience. They also seem to lack the confidence to deal with such responsibilities.
The Margdarshaks, on the other hand, have considerable experience of being in such committees and parliamentary panels. They know better than most current faces.
"Their experience is far more than most of us. We have been taking their guidance ever since the government was formed. Now, the MPs will learn more," a BJP MP said.
"They know how to deal with issues that come up before such committees. They have successfully done these things in their parliamentary career. They know how to open channels of communication with the Opposition, deal with the Third Front in the house and tackle issues in the House," the parliamentarian said.
So, why did the government not realise their value two years ago? Did the powers-that-be not know the need for experience and how crucial senior leaders were for dealing with parliamentary business?
One BJP leader said it would be wrong to say the seniors were completely left out. He said: "Advani ji is the member of the parliamentary standing committee for information technology. He is getting another responsibility. He and others have been giving us margdarshan always."
Murli Manohar Joshi, who was the minister for human resource development in the Cabinet of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and led a joint parliamentary committee even as recent as well. He played an important role while Parliament was discussing 2G scam case and others.
But even such experienced face was kept out from any key role and responsibilities. It is only now when government is bringing them on board.
Indeed, the committee on IT has Advani as a member. But it is also a fact that the committee is headed by a much junior Anurag Thakur. While Advani would always reach before the scheduled time for any meeting, others would mostly join late.
In fact, many BJP MPs took their committee memberships for granted. Some of them had really poor attendace. The government had to suspend almost a dozen BJP MPs from committees, including Vinod Khanna, SS Ahluwalia, Ramesh Pokhriyal, Varun Gandhi, Dushyant Singh, Darshana Jadosh, Sanjay Jaiswal, Om Birla, Nand Kumar Chauhan and Pankaj Chaudhary.
Though their terms would have ended on 30 April, they were asked to step down months before that.
The disagreements of the veterans have been the moments of embarrassments for BJP in the past two years. And the party has understood that it was wrong to keep them unattended.
Now that the Modi sarkar desperately needs guidance, who better to go to than the Margdarshaks?
Edited by Joyjeet Das
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