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Dedicated to “Bharat” and “Dharma”

Reviving BJP – Points to Ponder

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.

Related Posts:

India decides on Congress led UPA – Guest Post

Open Thread to discuss Elections 2009

May 24th, 2009 Posted by | Elections 2009, Elections Results, Analysis and Related, Political Ideology, Politics and Governance in India | 87 comments

87 Comments »

  1. @ Indian

    I am not trying to dmean anyone or any religion. I am just holding the view point that i am a practising hindu, and i have not had any problems in practising my faith in India and i dont see hindu walk of life being attacked in any fashion either by the government or anyone, nor being a hindu in India is like a 2nd class citizen like some one in the earlier post mentioned.

    India as a country belongs to people who practice hindu walk of life, christians, muslims, Jains, Bhddhists, beleivers and non beleivers.

    There is a clear differnece between cultural nationalism – that is irrespective of which country one lives in they are still part of the hindu walk of life and in the same context India as a country where hindus are one of the many other faiths which reside.

    Comment by Ashwin Kumaraswamy | May 30, 2009

  2. All: Many of you will find Kanchan Gupta’s latest post thought-provoking.

    Comment by B Shantanu | May 30, 2009

  3. Dear Jayadevan,
    Let me assure you that I am in no way supporting the Nazi holocaust – vis-a-vis the LTTE.
    The LTTE started of honorably, but ended up a monster of garangutan proportions.
    The world is willing to listen to legitimate methods of dealing with being considered a second rate citizen, but not monsters.
    I am discussing only the monstrosity of the LTTE. You need to destroy a monster and that is what President Rajapakshe did.
    Further the point was raised by me not to focus on the LTTE as it was not the focus of the discussion, but on the leadership of the Prseident.I only drew a parallel as I want the BJP to concentrate on its idealogy and not to be led up the garden path by its supposed to be supporters.
    Regards,
    vck

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | May 30, 2009

  4. Perhaps BJP can take a look at this cartoon and start thinking about minority vote bank politics?

    Comment by Hemant | May 30, 2009

  5. Hemant,
    Forget it. BJP will never get votes from minorities. After all the shrill speak about being a party with a difference if they stoop down to what congress does, then people would rather vote for congress not its clone :)
    BJP truly deserves it and I dont see its revival either for the next decade.

    Comment by harish | May 31, 2009

  6. @ Harish,

    You are partially correct in saying BJP which was looked as a party of difference for all sections of the society after 1996. They did not flatter on accounts of major policies but they flattered on their core ideology as they got increasingly confgused about 3 different ideological section of RSS/BJP?jan Sangh/VHP and other off shoots.

    India would be better in having a strong BJP as against various identity based small parties. The bi-polarity of either a Congress led block or the BJP led block should be maintained.

    BJP is not dfret of talents, but they should go out and engage with the masses as against their Gen Next which is happy to sit in the confines of TV studios and scoring debating brownie points.

    I do beleibe like Shivaraj Chowhan, Raman Singh there are many BJP regional satraps who are capable of showcasing the development anagle rather than any negatives or stigma associated with BJP on the issue of religion/hindus.

    Comment by Ashwin Kumaraswamy | May 31, 2009

  7. @ashwin,
    You left out Modi. He is the torch bearer of development.
    All that I say is they have no political future if they act as B team of congress. People would choose an experienced congress than BJP if both of them have the same thing to offer.

    Comment by harish | June 1, 2009

  8. @ Harish

    I guess we are in agreement here that BJP cant be seen as a B team of Congress in terms of they were not really party of change.

    The reason for leaving out Narendra Modi – he is to divisive a figure even within BJP. On the larger context his projection in my opinion would be counter productive. BJP needs to find a similar combination liek Atal-Advani combo, one who is more organisational and other who can appeal to all sections of the community. I guess this is where they are missing out.

    Comment by Ashwin Kumaraswamy | June 1, 2009

  9. @ashwin,
    Nice that we agree on some issue atleast :)
    But having said that modi being a divisive figure or not is debatable, but that shouldn’t be a reason why one shouldn’t talk about the developmental works and the novel methods of governance he has brought in. Courts will decide his innocence and the planning commission reports his achievements on developmental works.

    Comment by harish | June 1, 2009

  10. […] frustrations and lamentations. There are conspiracy galores, thread bare analyses of the defeat and sane advices for future, of which some are for party and some party neutral advices – probably doubting the ability of the […]

    Pingback by Arise, Awake and Stop not till the Goal is Reached : Friends of BJP — Because India Deserves Better | June 2, 2009

  11. Some of the finest points I have ever seen.
    The most important does come first. Stop Aping Congress. :)

    Comment by Akshar | June 2, 2009

  12. Hari Om,

    This is Nitin…. First of all BJP must understand the real meaning of Hindutva. THey are unnecassarily giving Hindutva a Bad name…. Request to read Swami Vivekananda’s books on the same. You must also include the minorities.

    Man with complete knowledge of Hinduism will never be in this situation.

    Comment by Nitin Shankar | June 2, 2009

  13. Namaskar Shantanu,
    Awesome analysis of BJP defeat.

    http://election.rediff.com/slide-show/2009/jun/05/slide-show-1-why-the-bjp-lost-elections-2009.htm

    Comment by Pradip Ramesh Patil | June 6, 2009

  14. For me the BJP lost when it failed to grasp the golden opportunity it had when it first rode to power at the centre. Its champions in the Sangh scoffed at me when I pointed out to them that the North of India would be aflame with low intensity war. Kargil followed and they gave up a golden opportunity to make a paradigm shift. They were then a minority partner in the Government which needed to break out as a party in its own right. Since they were not willing to take the war to Pakistan, its other plank of building the Ram temple proved opportunistic because of its unwillingess and inability to deliver. A BJP Minister said to me then that they were willing to sit on it and had very little intention to deliver on their promise.

    It is one thing to work the country into a frenzy of expectation and another to face the music when it is delivered. The BJP then proved to be like any other party and lost power little knowing why it lost. This time round it has not proved any different. The party is now established on the landscape of Indian politics. Advani’s attempt to give it the pseudo secular face of Congress behind the mask of its essentially Hinduvta agenda has been confusing to say the least. It is said of the English Conservative Party, that it is a party of the Anglican Church at prayer. The BJP has a future if it can fulfill that promise.

    Post Advani, the party needs to be able to project a leader as a counter to Rahul Gandhi. This goes very much against the Sangh’s philosophy of not letting any of its leader to be anything more than first among equals. A country’s leader who necessarily needs to embrace the country cannot be so constrained. As an example, Advani’s gesture made at the Jinah temple is tolerable when made on behalf of the country as a visiting Prime Minster but it was foolhardy of him to do it out of office. I myself would not make any such gesture.

    Comment by Khandu Patel | June 6, 2009

  15. Dear All: Thanks for some great comments. I will respond later tonight.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 6, 2009

  16. Sudheendra Kulkarni and Swapan Dasgupta weigh in on the BJP’s eletcion performance.

    Both more or less arguing that the party must abandon/ look beyond the “Hindutva” plank.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 9, 2009

  17. Sudheendra should be thanked for his candour but his analysis and conclusions are not correct any more than the policy he helped the BJP on formulating for the elections. The appearance I have of Hindutva as an ideology is as a construct in defence of Hindu rule to that of the British rule of the time. The British had left India more than a century a ago and the same tired script cannot provide the narrative for India in to the future. The suggestion that the BJP should be a party less identified with Hindu causes would be a betrayal of Hindus. The fact remains that if it was alright for the Muslims to have had the Muslim League which delivered a handsome return for the Muslims, what justificiation is there for denying the just their fruits in their own land? The Christian Democrats in Europe are proof that a party of its main religious constituency can occupy political space, and that should also be the case for Hindus of India. The only question is whether Hinduism by its very nature is proving difficult in that regard. That is also true. But the challenge is too important for India as a nation to ignore. The BJP can without loss dispense with the stridently anti-Mulsim focus but the agenda for unifying the disparate entities of India should remain intact.

    Comment by Khandu Patel | June 9, 2009

  18. To be frank I have been re-thinking the last message posted to your site, and in particular my reference to the anti-Muslim focus of the Hindu right in the elections. That has been the easy course because it neatly submerged divisions in Hindu society. The fact remains that India won independence half a century ago and it seems rather incongruous that the this is the only way that the Hindu majority has been able to assert itself even though the modern state is an all powerful instrument of coercion. The blood bath of partition should have ended the debate about who is the master in the land but communal disturbances that were so much an instrument of British rule used to keep the country on the edge remain a characteristic feature of India to this day. In fact, the new phenomena of BJP rule has seen communal disturbances in states controlled by them abate. My reading of the situation is that the secularists of Congress and and the left generally have found communal disturbances useful to maintaining their rule. But that would not have been possible if Hinduism had not vacated the space to them in the first place: in fact it begs the question whether Hindus India ever occupied that space from independence. We have to bring this discourse beyond slogans into a rational debate with that purpose in mind. Elections in a true democracy are not meant to be simply an exercise in choosing a representative: they are also meant to reinforce the legitimacy of rule by the state and I mean a state that is Hindu Bharat at its heart. If the choices made by the electorate in the last two elections were crass, it may have also been because the choices offered to them were crass too. In the years since Indira took control, the troika of Dalits, Muslims and Brahmins have determined India’s destiny. I am in no doubt that there is a common Hindu characteristic that is crying out for self expression and which for too long has been suppressed. The BJP in their review of the causes of the defeat in the elections would do well to bear that in mind. I for my part believe that if the BJP cannot come up with a satisfactory answer that reconciles Hindus of the country, then a much more drastic course of action is going to be necessary.

    Comment by Khandu Patel | June 11, 2009

  19. BJP’s failure – Note by Arvind Lavakare

    So many firends — and foes! — have been writing about this or that being the reason for the BJP’s humiliating defeat in the recent Lok Sabha polls.
    But a little bit of news in the Delhi Confidential column of *The Indian Express* of 8th June may well be a key factor in addition to those causes “analysed” by commentators.

    That news is about Jaswant Singh who, having been elected to the Lok Sabha, has found himself denied all the pampering and privileges he previously enjoyed as the Opposition Leader in the Rajy Sabha. According to *The Indian Express *issue referred to above, *”He (Jaswant Singh) has told his successor Arun Jaitley that he would retain his room till the end of the (current) session (of Parliament). Two, his staff would be working for Jaitley only on paper but actually continue to be with him. Singh’s wish-list includes the retention of a South Avenue flat as guest accommodation.”*

    **
    It should be noted that *The Indian Express* has *not* reported the above as hearsay gossip but as a fact of which the reporter is sure. It therefore reveals the very self-centred and selfish attitude of Jaswant Singh who, as a retired senior Army officer, was expected to show a moral and self-effacing trait in his character.

    The above obnoxious reaction of Jaswant Singh is exactly the opposite of the ordinary Mumbai citizen’s perception about the self-sacrifice made by Rahul Gandhi in refusing a ministerial berth in the new government and preferring instead to work on his party’s organisational matters.

    There’s a lesson, I believe, in this for all BJP people. They simply must understand that the Indian instinctively has a soft corner for those who are willing to give up on their pelf and positions, and instead be seen as working for the common citizen of the country in some capacity or the other.

    The BJP must indeed first win the people’s hearts before trying to win their minds and votes. The common citizen faces so many problems throughout the year — admission of his child to a school, securing registration on the electoral roll and getting his Voting ID Card, getting his medical insurance reimbursement, getting regular water and power supply, etc etc etc. Help is needed for little little things everywhere — in the village, in the tehsil, in the town and the metro. But is there a political party worker available there to help? Hardly ever. If the BJP can provide this help — even if only to represent the grievance and follow it up with the authority concerned—the BJP will win the people’s hearts and, later, their votes. Talking from personal experience, many a Congress worker does have that quality of offering help, irrespective of whether he finally succeeds or not in his/her effort.

    But the BJP seems totally deficient in that requirement. Instead, like Jaswant Singh, the BJP seems interested only in the loaves and fishes of office. For example, why didn’t Advani just be firm on giving up his position as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament? Why hasn’t he demanded that his Z plus security be brought down to a minimum level? (Who would want to kill him now?) Why doesn’t the BJP decide that its MPs will not take their daily allowance whenever there’s a walk-out from Parliament by *any *political party?Above all, why did Vajpayee want a seven-star bungalow as the retired PM of this country? Why, oh why, didn’t he move in with his adopted son-in-law’s specious dwelling in the capital?

    Sacrifice, common man above self — that is one integral part of the new “ideology” which the BJP must adopt — right now. Let the BJP do it in a sustauined manner in its weakest states — West Bengal, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and a most pleasant surprise, I’m sure, would await them.

    Arvind Lavakare

    Comment by ACH | June 11, 2009

  20. Sudheendra Kulkarni’s friend speaks

    Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    Dear friend,

    Namaskar,

    Sudheendra Kulkarni, who currently works as an aide to Mr. LK Advani, is an old friend. In 1975, both of us joined IIT Bombay for B.Tech. A couple of days back Sudheendra wrote an article “Hindu Divided Family”, which you may read at

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main42.asp?filename=Ne130609hindu_divide… .

    Sudheendra’s article has drawn considerable attention in media. I am replying to Sudheendra in an open letter discussing the role of Mr. Advani in BJP and also the defeat of BJP in recent elections.

    The enclosed open letter to Sudheendra is about 2000 words. Please read it and send me your comments.

    With Best Wishes and Regards,

    Anil Chawla

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Dear Sudheendra,

    I have just read your “deeply introspective essay” on tehelka.com about BJP’s defeat in recent elections. The article is described as introspective, but I failed to find anything that could be called introspection by any stretch of imagination. True, you say that “I too carry my share of responsibility”, but that is more courteous than introspective.

    All through the essay, you look upon BJP as a patient lying on an operating table and your role as that of an outsider trying to see all that has gone wrong. The patient is being blamed for all that has gone wrong, without in any way blaming either the virus or the team of doctors who have brought the patient to the present critical state.

    Please pardon me for being direct and on the face. I guess as a former classmate I can take this freedom. I campaigned for Janata Party in 1977 elections. Ever since then I have been in and around the party (JP/BJP) working at various levels. Sure enough, I have not been an aide to Mr. LK Advani (LK) like you have been. Both of us began dabbling in public life together at IIT Bombay. I have spent
    more than three decades in close proximity with BJP and RSS without ever being offered a post. I am not alone. There are thousands like me who have served in their own humble way. What has always surprised me is that someone like you who was a committed fulltime communist for almost two decades, suddenly did an ideological somersault and
    landed up straight in the top rungs of BJP. When you are in mood for some introspection, please do think about this. Probably, the roots to the present malaise in BJP can be traced to your own personal journey.

    When a communist suddenly becomes an ideologue for a party like BJP, there is bound to be skepticism and even some ridicule. It becomes imperative on the neo-convert to prove that there has been a genuine transformation of the soul and not just a change of coat. Even if the neo-convert does manage to prove his credentials, there is no way that he should ever be allowed to rule over the heads of people who
    have devoted their life to the cause. In your case, (a) you have never proved that you have really changed and (b) you actually landed up on top of the ranks in a manner that is most inexplicable. I say that you have not been able to prove your credentials because I have read some of your articles and I can say with a fair level of confidence that you remain at heart a communist who is trying to put on the camouflage of a Hindu.

    Dear Sudheendra, I have nothing against you personally. Your appointment as National Executive member of BJP, at the time of your joining BJP, and later as Prime Minister’s key aide had pleased me enormously. One always likes to see old friends in positions of power. The problem is that your case is not an isolated one, but a representative one. There are many in Delhi and Mumbai who have been able to gain access to LK’s coterie by hook or by crook and it is
    these who now rule over BJP.

    When you analyze BJP and RSS with a cold surgeon like approach, you ignore the role that LK’s family and coterie has come to play in the party. Elections of 2009 were not fought by BJP against Congress, but were reduced by LK and his gang to a war by LK against one and all.
    The party has been systematically hijacked and decimated over the past decade and a half by LK’s coterie. You just need to look at the campaign material prepared by the party for the recent elections.
    There is only one face — LK’s. Even Atal ji was not considered worthy of being put on the hoardings and posters. Congress gained mileage from photographs of Gandhi and Nehru decades after their deaths.
    Communists continue to revere Lenin and Stalin till today. Contrast this with the way LK and his war team dumped Atal ji most discourteously even though he is alive and continues to be revered by millions in the country.

    You say that the BJP leadership is in disarray. If it is true, the only person who is responsible for the mess in the party is LK and no one else. He has ruled over the party with an iron hand for more than two decades. In fact, the words “Majboot Neta” (Strong Leader) that were used to describe LK during the recent election, apply only in
    respect of the way LK behaves in the matter of crushing his critics and opponents within the party. He is ruthless in demolishing anyone who as much as raises an eyebrow against him. He has no patience for anyone who even dreams of being his equal within the party. Can you please name for me two people who are LK’s equals within BJP, in LK’s vision? LK’s desire to stand as a tallest leader made him choose only
    pygmies for all critical positions in the party. The only way that one could rise up in BJP with LK at helm was to act as a subservient spineless dwarf.

    The problem with dwarfs is that while they are very good for boosting one’s ego, they have limited use when one faces a war-like situation.
    In the recent elections, LK decided to fight it all alone. LK and his family and coterie thought that their rag-tag army of laptop professionals could substitute for the well-oiled and tested machinery of BJP, ABVP and RSS. The irony is that the blame for the defeat is now being put on the doors of the organizations that were treated most shabbily when LK and his team were dreaming of victory.
    LK and his team are now complaining that no one from BJP top leadership stood up to defend him when he was under attack. The fact is that among BJP leadership, the ones who command any stature were always ignored, attacked and pushed to the sideline by LK and his gang. So when LK came under attack he looked around for support and found none. Of course, there were many rats who were raising their
    feeble voices in his support. Unfortunately, the voices of rats do not count. This is something that LK should have thought before he appointed rats in all the key positions.

    You talk about the party’s social base. Did LK do anything in this regard during the past five years? The answer is an emphatic NO. When LK did his last ‘yatra’ before 2004 elections, a photograph of his starting point was circulated. It showed LK standing with his daughter and wife. There were no BJP leaders on the dais. LK defended
    the presence of his family by saying that he drew strength from them.
    This is the root of the problem. In the past decade or so, LK stopped drawing strength from the party or Sangh parivar, and started leaning on his personal family ignoring the larger family to which small humble persons like me belong and from where we draw our strength. LK
    saw the party and Sangh pariwar as a tool to achieve his personal ambition at all costs. In the past decade, LK’s focus was on building his personal image, his family strengths, his mafia-like grip on the party. The thought of getting or building leaders who command or could potentially command respect in various social groups seems to have been far removed from LK’s mind.

    I attended the function at Bhopal of LK’s unveiling of his
    autobiography in Hindi. What an unabashed projection by a person who has no achievements worth mentioning even in one paragraph! Future historians will mention LK as a classic example of a person who had illusions of grandeur. They will write that he was a manipulator who was ruthless to independent thought within his party and rose by
    methods that ruined the party. Having said that they would probably add – he saw films and wrote two eminently forgettable autobiographies. What else is there to mention about LK’s lifetime achievements? Are there any articles / books written by him on social-political issues? At least I am not aware of any. He is a self-centered person who cannot see beyond himself and his interests.
    If he puts pen on paper it is to describe his own self because that is all that he can ever see. If he talks about Hinduism / Hindutwa or any political ideology or national issues, it sounds hollow because he has never applied his mind to anything except his own interests, his family, his career, his ambitions, his dreams etc.

    You might respond by saying that all politicians today are like that.
    You would probably be right on that. But then they know that they are run-of-the-mill politicians with no illusions of being grand strong leaders. If LK had realized his own limitations, he would not have tried to fashion 2009 elections as an exercise to elect him as the prime minister. The worst thing that happened in 2004 and 2009
    elections is that the BJP, under the influence of LK, did not use the elections as an exercise to take party’s ideology forward. In days of Jansangh, when it used to be absolutely clear that there was no possibility of winning, the party would still fight. In those days, it used to be clear that fighting an election was an opportunity to
    propagate our ideology and thoughts to a bigger audience. In the 2009 election, the campaign was focused only on the persona of LK ignoring even the party’s manifesto.

    As an old hand of the broad ideological historical process that I call as Hindu nationalistic movement, I have no serious regrets about BJP losing 2004 or 2009 elections. But I do regret that the party which was making an attempt in its initial years to define a new vision for Ekatm Manavwad (translated by me as Monistic Humanism) lost way. I regret that instead of focusing on issues and ideas the
    party focused on an individual. I regret that the party for whom thousands shed blood and lives became a tool in the hands of some who want to live a seven-star lifestyle. I regret that personal ambitions and aspirations of one man became the focus of many organizations that are known for the sacrifices of their leaders.

    Dear Sudheendra, I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say, “The BJP can indeed bounce back. But it can do so only if it first renews and empowers itself comprehensively — in its ideology, its geographical-social spread, its own political strength, its mass activity, its alliance-building, its cadre-based organizational network, and its leadership”. The difference is in approach. While
    you would like to probably do it with LK and his cronies at the helm, I shall like Sangh pariwar to put the dark days of LK and his cronies behind.

    Sangh leadership must act to decisively purge BJP of LK and his individual-centered style of working. Competence and not loyalty to this or that individual must be the criterion for all appointments.
    Ideology must take centre-stage once again and those who can help with defining and clarifying ideological issues should be in key positions and not sycophants or moneybags.

    I am making this letter public because I think that the issues that are discussed here are very important and need a wider debate. Of course, I know that this will put me at the risk of harsh retaliatory action by LK and his coterie. I guess that I have to take this risk in wider national interest. I hope I can count on you as an old friend if the action turns nasty.

    With Best Wishes and Regards,

    Anil Chawla

    Comment by ACH | June 11, 2009

  21. Chawlas letter is good, but why not a Kamaraj like plan for the BJP. In the post IT age , the media , TV and blogs have come to stay. They have to project leaders with charisma at the top level. Leaders who can handle the media well. Marx called religion the opium of the people, but in the present times media , TV can be an overdose of opium for the party if they are not able to present themselves before the media well.

    So, those who are vulnerable to the overdose of this opium, they must go to grassroots and work to strengthen the party at the base. Those who are not vulnerable to this opium , must be projected as leaders.

    Yes , Media can be the opium, if the limits are not known.

    Comment by Avinash | June 11, 2009

  22. Chawla’s remark about LK has the ring of truth but let us not forget that it was LK’s almost blind vision and conviction that brought the BJP to the centre stage. Without his achievement which were those of a megalamaniac we could not even have hoped to have our rightful place for Hindu Bharat of the future. We need to be as charitable to LK as Nil Chawla who was right to say his piece. In that lies greatness. It is to the future that we should be looking.

    Comment by Khandu Patel | June 11, 2009

  23. (Excerpted from an email)

    …With what is Advani going to re-vitalise the party? With the same tired thinking, same worn out cliches, same floundering sense of identity, same cluelessness of what constitutes the soul of the nation? The same Chennai coterie, the same Sudheendra Kulkarni, the same neo-cults whom Advani is promoting as important hindu religious leaders?

    We have rejected Advani, his coterie, Sudheendra Kulkarni and the new-cults. I dont want a Gandhi clone, I dont want another failed INC now masquerading as the BJP.

    The Congress at least, true to its origins has gone back to being led by an European Christian. The BJP as it is today, will at best not even be a clone but a cheap imitation.

    Comment by RR | June 22, 2009

  24. Stumbled on this:
    12 unsolicited revival tips for an ailing BJP

    to which Sh Kalyanaraman-ji added a “13th tip”:

    Advaniji, stop talking of ratha yatras. Stay at home to enjoy the 80 years of life.

    ACTION: Let BJP karyakartas visit every one of the 6.5 lakh villages — at least once a month — and set up a bhagava flag in very village with a representative to receive peoples’ grievances.

    Some of the twelve bits of advice echo what I have written in the post.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 23, 2009

  25. Also read:
    BJP: Himalayan Shame
    by Sandhya Jain

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 23, 2009

  26. There is an important spiritual lesson here for the BJP. Those who would sacrifice dharma for rajya find that they have neither.

    One important point in reviving the BJP is for it to identify its base. It really cannot be all things to all people since that particular post is occupied by the Congress . Furthermore, if it is serious about some of its positions like the uniform civil code, anti conversion laws etc, it will NEVER get the Christian or Muslim vote. So it has to decide which is more important–principles or minority votes. If the BJP is serious about its political future (as opposed to providing employment for the unemployable), it had better start recruiting professionals to manage and market its brand.

    Finally, I have to say that many of the Hindus like myself left the BJP precisely because there is nothing to show for their being in power–no Uniform Civil Code, no change in Kashmir’s status and no Ram temple in Ayodhya. They didn’t even alter the laws to give Hindus greater control over their temples and educational institutions. In fact, in might be easier to pressure the congress government on the last agenda–giving Hindus control over their religious organizations.

    Comment by K. Harapriya | June 24, 2009

  27. Thought provoking excerpts from The lost generation of the BJP by Neena Vyas:

    For nearly six decades — from the early-1950s when the Jan Sangh was born through 1980 when it was re-born as the Bharatiya Janata Party up to the present — the party leadership has remained firmly in the hands of two gentlemen, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani. This was irrespective of who might have been the party president at any given time.

    Now that Mr. Vajpayee is no longer active because of ill-health and Mr. Advani is 80-plus and well past his prime, he is certainly to be counted out as a prime ministerial candidate for Lok Sabha election 2014. For two or three decades, the party failed to put a younger leadership in place. That is now the source of great anxiety and also the cause of a lot of heartburn. Those in their sixties and seventies are now doomed to become the “lost generation” like Hemingway’s characters in The Sun Also Rises. For them the sun is about to set, and they are fighting to take their place under it.

    The struggle for leadership has just begun. It is expected to become intense ahead of impending changes that will include Mr. L.K. Advani giving up his position as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha by year-end to make way for a younger leader. The change will almost certainly bypass those currently in their sixties and seventies.

    …The BJP is already conscious of the youth factor and the changing demographic profile of the Indian electorate. Five years from now, when the next Lok Sabha contest is expected to take place, the battle for the top slot will not be between an 80+ Mr. Advani and a 75+ Manmohan Singh. It is no secret that the new face of the Congress would be a 40+ Rahul Gandhi because by then Dr. Singh would be 80+.

    The party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh seem to have made up their mind to promote the leadership of those in their fifties. That perhaps explains why Mr. Jaswant Singh, who circulated an “open letter” to all members of the party’s core committee on Wednesday objecting to inam being handed out to those who did not bring in the desired parinam (results), later told a television news channel that Mr. Advani should continue as the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. He would be saved the embarrassment of seeing a much younger leader take over as Leader of Opposition.

    …Former general secretary Pramod Mahajan foresaw all this a year or two before he was murdered (in 2006): “I have become a grandfather. I would have retired as a school teacher if I had not joined politics. Our turn [to be leader] will not come because the two top leaders — Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani — are still there. We are too young to be considered but they assumed leadership when they were in their thirties.”

    Comment by B Shantanu | August 3, 2009

  28. On 29th May afternoon, one prominent BJP leader from West Bengal (I cannot mention his name without his permission) met Advani at his residence in Delhi.

    LS election was out on 16th May. Assume the name of the leader is X. Mr.X asked Advani,”We are at present slightly right to center. After this disastrous election result, should we move towards more right or slightly left towards center?” Advani replied,”Now we should move towards centre.”

    Mr.X asked,”In that case will it not increase the risk of looking BJP similar to Congress?” Advani replied,”May be. But there is no problem in it. Only one thing we should ensure that we must cater hundred percent of people, not eighty two percent of people.”

    Everybody should draw his her own conclusion.

    Comment by Tapan Ghosh | August 7, 2009

  29. Do read this Jaswant-Tharoor comparison….and why the BJP is not like the Congress.

    Comment by B Shantanu | August 23, 2009

  30. I am moving here a few comments by Khandu and Vivekam re. BJP. Pl continue the discussion here:

    ***
    Comment by Vivekam:

    i know this discusion is abt something else .. but still need some place to make this point ..thn for letting me do it here …

    for someone who is quick and unambiguous about taking stands against , say , the upa , xtistis , islamics and others … u r surprisingly slow and equivocal with regards to the issues in the bjp like arun shourie ’s and jaswant singh’s recent problems … is it like u do not wanna burn any political bridges there by taking sides and a stand .. if i am right , u do travel and talk often with lka ?

    ***
    Comment by B Shantanu

    @ Vivekam: This is my last comment on this issue before the post that I am drafting.

    Let me first make a few general points. I have no idea why Arun Shourie’s 4-part series did not appear on the Friends of BJP website. If you ask me, it should have. But I do not run that website and neither do I have any influence over it.

    You had asked in one of you earlier comments: “do u think they deserve to win elections?” In the current form and shape, I would say the answer is no – this is my opinion. Others may not agree with it.

    And no, I do not write anything with a view to building (or burning) bridges. I write what I feel.
    And I have no idea why you think I “talk often with lka”. Not true at all.

    Finally, the reason I have not written anything or commented on Arun Shourie’s articles (or Jaswant Singh’s expulsion) is that I want some time to collect my thoughts and not just print something off the web (One can already find a lot about it on the web)

    Most readers are aware of my sentiments re. this issue but a serious reform of the party cannot be dictated by outsiders (I am not even a member of the party)…our work is to project the failings…but the fixing has got to be done by those who are in it..

    I believe there have been various writers who have been scathing in their criticism of the party (Kanchan Gupta for one) but I have some 100 pages of reading material to look at before culling the best out of the lot.

    And why do you assume that there have been no private discussions about this at all? I am sure you realise that some of these issues are fairly sensitive and there are limits to what you can write on blogs about specific groups and personalities – which might explain others’ silence.

    ***
    Comment by Khandu Patel:

    @vivekam

    The feelings as regards the BJP is that it had preoccupied itself with its own internal feuds. For a party that depicted discipline to the sort of disarray it has been in for some years now is letting the Hindu cause down. Jaswant as the former Foreign Minister might have had something useful to say about Pakistan in its present reincarnation, and there are no words to describe the monstrosity it has become. Quite why Jaswant chose to raise the currency of that country by elevating their founder as a hero is beyond me and any other Indian who has the best interest of India at heart. A military man such as Jaswant Singh should have understood this. But the reason for his outlandish claimns has all to do with the soft Hindutva that was recently coined. I am afraid Jaswant chose the wrong person to eulogise in Jinnah and paid the price for it.

    ***
    Comment by Vivekam:
    @ khandu patel

    i have no problems with disciplining any one … but there has to be a pattern to the madness … first of all , jaswant writing this book and its probable contents was wellknown to the top brass of bjp , hence the repeated postponment of the release dates at their request ..
    besides , with the ousting of jaswant , the only thing revealed is that bjp is not capable of disciplining its memebers .. the party simply had to issue a SHOW CAUSE to jaswant to hear him out , one should have the freedom to express one’s views , no matter wht they are as long as one can back them up,

    besides that one needs to be able to look history from everyone’s view point , it requires maturity …

    how different was jaswant’s praising of jinnah from wht lka did?

    the shrewdest of the lot is jaitley with his friendsofbjp group ….he is gonna out maneuver all others pretty soon despite nothing to show in terms of results in even delhi !

    ***
    Comment by Khandu Patel:
    @Vivek

    I am afraid it goes it back to the raison d’tre of the BJP’s existence which is the shifting sands of its core ideology. LKA made a blunder with his Jinnah declaration. The two people most culpable for the India’s partition are Gandhi and Jinnah. Gandhi for taking the country along the path of Hindu satyagraha and Jinnah who drew the conclusion that it was againt the nature of Muslims to follow Gandhi. Volumes have been written on why Gandhi is though to have been wrong on his Satyagraha. Jinnah’s proof of secularism has been written in the blood of the countless thousands that perished for his vision of Pakistan. What Jaswant (and before him LKA) had been saying is so repugnant to Indian’s that it could not be contained as a mere academic debate. I will add that there has been nothing in academic circles that detracts from the above analysis. Jaswant is in the business politics and his party has found that a major portion of its Hindu constituency has become detached from its moorings in the last elections. Jaswant was well advised against publication but as he did so, he paid the price of his ill-advised actions. He put profit before his party and nation. I hope we will see the last of him in politics.

    ***

    Pl. continue the discussion here

    Comment by B Shantanu | August 23, 2009

  31. @ kp

    i havent read the book ,,,, have u?

    i am gonna assume that jaswant wrote unpalatable things about patel and jinnah ….

    my questions are….

    1)wht did he present abt them?

    2)did he present facts previously established or merely his conclusions?

    3)did he present something abt them that had not been presented before by someone else in bjp , esp lka on jinnah?

    4)did he do this project on the sly or was the party leadership aware of its contents and tone ?

    5)did the bjp leadership ask to read the book before it was released ? have they read it now that it has been released ? do they still feel they are right?

    6)did they ask jaswant singh to explain his book ?

    7)how was lka overlooked for this same offence?

    8)so wht if patel is accused ? patel is not 100% angel , no one is! does evidence/facts on the ground support the view taken in the book?

    9)why cant someone take a different viewpoint of the same fact as long as they can back it up?

    10)wht were people like jaitley doing when lka did this? did jaitley kick out lka from bjp ?jaitley shuld stick to his coterie at the friendsofbjp , ignore arun shourie et al (as already being done)on that website and go around giving talks and receiving praise from “his followers”… but praise for wht ?… his amazing work for the bjp in delhi politics and during the elections? … ya rt!

    Comment by vivekam.vairagyam | August 24, 2009

  32. @ shantanu (#79)

    THE INNER DANCE IN THE BJP ……

    A REPLY TO SHANTANU @ #79

    .. really …. ?

    let me point out the inconsistencies in that argument …

    tharoor had just lost the elections to the top spot at the un in 2006… wht was the poor man to do … his best bet was to use his un mileage in india and for that he had to choose between congress and bjp … after vajpayee , bjp wasnt really showing signs of recovery or prospects … besides that even those in the bjp didnt know wht they stood for post 2004 … why would he choose to bait bjp ?

    that leaves congress as the natural choice …so ,tharoor did that book in 2007 … whtever others may think , i think it was a well laid out plan to first attract the attention of sonia and the congress top brass … wht better way to attract attention than the kid-gloved cinematic jabs he took on sonia and her ilk …

    he didnt get any rewards from the congress for that , but he sure got attention ..

    the next step was to simply sing the praise of sonia which he did on TIME apr 2008 , rt?

    … that completes the circle and now tharoor who had criticised sonia earlier in a book , had come around , “had a change of heart” and woken up to her greatness …!

    … the “enlightenment” he had was subsequently conveyed to outside world in that article … now that the world had been informed of the “message” about “the great one” by the “messiah” , it was only appropriate for “the great one” and “the angels” to reward “the born again ” “enlightened” “messiah” who would spread the “gospel” he was enlightened about to less fortunate heathens … Presto ,,,, Make him the MP ….. and is it difficult to fool desi mallus with firangi credentials ?… evidently not!

    It was all along a carefully orchestrated dance ,,, i would love to be wrong on this one …..!

    as u can see there are no parallels between the books although Chindu would love for us to delude ourselves otherwise …. !

    u will see the storyline when u look carefully at the timeline … it is not wht the “screen-play” would have u believe !

    as for jaswant , he wasnt looking for a foothold ,trying to get ahead in party or even simply looking for attention … this book was no overnight surprise .. everyone there knew well abt it … so he doesnt have to do a “tharoor” ….

    this is not his first controversial book … he had done this before … the irony is that , this time he simply echoed lka , but had his butt kicked by the predecessor himself … it is more an inconsistent act of bad PR by the bjp in the face of a tactful PR dance by the KKKaangress guys .

    so ,,, i repeat , there are no parallels here !

    wht ppl fail to see here is that jaswant was simply screwed by the shrwed maneuvering of jaitley and his camp… even modi wuldnt have had a foothold in the issue , he had to ban the book to pre-empt congress and save his butt in the state … so the one who was clearly creating newer greener pastures to graze was jaitley and his camp , clearly positioning themselves next in line to lka ….!

    Comment by vivekam.vairagyam | August 24, 2009

  33. Stumbled on this:

    # हर शाख पे उल्लू बैठा है, अंजाम – ए – गुलिस्ताँ क्या होगा. भाजपा से नम्र निवेदन है – अपना ही वस्त्र हरण भरी सभा में मत करो.about 21 hours ago from web

    #
    भाजपा का नया शौक – अपने पैर पर ही कुल्हाडी मारो, अंत कितना निकट है उसकी कल्पना का अनुमान पार्टी के हाई कमांड को नहीं है.about 21 hours ago from web

    #
    माननीय अडवाणी जी से निवेदन है की वोह अब वानप्रस्थ आश्रम की और प्रस्थान करें. शास्त्रों में भी यह ही लिखा है.

    Courtesy http://twitter.com/vaakpatu

    Comment by B Shantanu | August 24, 2009

  34. @ shantanu (#83)

    is it fair to expect a translation of anything not presented in english for the benefit of those who do not understand the script u might have used there ?

    Comment by vivekam.vairagyam | August 24, 2009

  35. Fair point Vivekam. Very rough translation below:

    1. Kind Request to BJP: Do not get disrobed (“vastra haranam”)on your own, in full public view

    2. BJP’s new hobby: Cut the branch you are sitting on…The BJP “High Command” does not know how close the end is.

    3. Request to Hon Sh Advani: Pl proceed to the forest (“Vaana prastha ashram”) – this would also be as per our scriptures.

    Comment by B Shantanu | August 24, 2009

  36. कहाँ तो तय था चरागाँ हर एक घर के लिए |
    कहाँ चराग मयस्सर नहीं शहर के लिए |

    Comment by Mod Prakash | August 29, 2009

  37. *** COMMENT EDITED ***

    [Reviving BJP] Part-1: Leadership

    BJP: Rather than following the ‘standards’ set by Congress after independence, we need to take an independent path that learns from systems across the globe during its entire history and seek (or aim for) a ‘perfect path’. Here is one way to do that (any comments and improvements are much appreciated) –

    1) Get all the RSS branches, their affiliates and ‘patriotic citizens’ to ‘register’ with the party – in the lines of what is done in USA. This
    a) adds a psychological element (for registered members) of ‘owning’ and ‘being part of’ the party
    b) helps in tracking, collecting and measuring the sentiments of the active participants

    2) Have an internal elections (like primaries) for the ‘chosen leader’ of the party. This
    a) ensures that the majority of the members would vote for the party as a result of having a leader of their choice and as a result of the leader representing the general sentiments of the majority members
    b) gives the needed respect and adherence from members for the leader – at par with their respect for democracy
    c) reduces (or better – eliminates) the infighting among the top leaders as the verdict has come from their supporters directly
    d) there by inherently brings in the stability for the party leadership at par with that brought by the sycophantic slavish Indians to the ruling ‘foreign’ dynasty of India.

    3) There should be an election (secret ballot) every 3 years for the president of BJP and once before general elections for the ‘PM-in-waiting’. This
    a) distinctly separates the roles played by the positions with
    (i) the president presiding over the activities of the party including growth, development and strategy
    (ii) while the ‘PM-in-waiting’ would either become the PM or the ‘leader of the opposition’ forming a ‘shadow government’ with one-to-one ministries matching the running government
    b) gives an opportunity for people to get more involved in the party affairs – there by gaining their trust repeatedly over the years and thinking more about the development of the country in the lines of the development of the party.
    c) keeps the BJP on the news on a positive note for about 2-3 times between general elections
    d) helps in ‘midterm’ assessment of the leadership atleast once between general elections
    e) keeps the leaders at work because now people are ‘watching them’ every few years!

    *** NOTE by MODERATOR ***

    Pl. keep your comment short and to the point. Alternatively, please link to the source URL. Thanks

    Comment by Mohan Sonti | September 3, 2009

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