I write this post as someone who wishes well to the BJP – a party from whom I have high expectations. It is essentially a compilation of key points culled from various articles, analyses, emails and comments following the party’s dismal performance in the 15th Lok Sabha elections.
Since I have never been trained to be a writer, the form of expression that comes naturally to me – after more than two decades in the “real word” – is a “summary of key points”. This is what the post is.
*** Some suggestions and points to ponder for BJP ***
Pl. stop comparing yourself with the Congress(I)
The ideological differences are far too many. While bi-partisanship may have its virtues, the BJP must strive to consciously and deliberately project itself as an alternative – with a perspective that is sharply different from the Congress(I).
Avoid knee-jerk reactions, especially at election-time
For example, the demand for bringing back money deposited in Swiss banks came across as a last-minute effort as the flip-flop on Varun Gandhi.
Define what the party stands for – This is an URGENT Task
I believe that the common BJP supporter today is confused about BJP’s ideology. This does not help.
The leadership needs to develop an over-arching, distinctive national identity and agenda.
What is the BJP’s self-identity?
Is it a “Hindu” party? Is it a party of “capitalists”? Is it the political arm of the RSS? Does it stand for Hindus? Hindutva? Indians? Individuals or the collective? Socialism or Free Markets?
Good-governance is not enough…and it cannot be the defining ideology. All parties must commit to good governance. What makes the BJP different?
Where is the party’s second-line of leadership?
Who are the ten leaders who can lead the party in 2020? In 2030? Where are they? How are they being nurtured? Do they exist?
Develop a pan-India base
If it ever hopes to be at the centre again, the BJP must (in my humble opinion) deliberately, consciously and slowly build its pan-India base. The goal must be to contest every single seat – nothing less.
Develop a Winner’s Psychology
Be ambitious. If you cannot think you can win, you will never win. Top sportsmen and sportswomen know this. The BJP would do well to internalise this.
Redefine the debate
Redefine Dharma – It is *not* religion. BJP must be for Dharma not for Religion.
Redefine “Secularism”. Redefine “Communal”.
Change the parameters of the debate.
Where is the BJP’s answer to Rahul Gandhi?
Where is the face that can take on Rahul Gandhi one-on-one on every single dimension? Where is the party’s answer to Priyanka Gandhi?
Dharma is NOT the “politics of religion”
Good governance does not run counter to “Dharma”; In fact it is part of “raj-dharma”.
As is secularism.
The party needs to redefine the debate
Concluding Comment, courtesy Radha Rajan (writing on 1st April ’09):
The vision, the courage and the wisdom to stand alone are interlinked and cannot be sequenced. Therein is the wisdom.
Comments, suggestions welcome as always.