It is widely rumored that India is a vibrant democracy but one wonders if the rumors are wild exaggerations with little bearing to reality. I could be wrong but doesn’t the idea of a democracy include having an effective opposition to the ruling party? Or is it still a democracy if it is a one-party rule which does whatever suits its narrow interests because there is no opposition to provide the checks and balances that are needed to assure that the ruling party does not use its rule to enrich itself at the cost of the national interest? In a sense, one cannot entirely blame the staggering misgovernance of the Antonia Maino, aka Sonia Gandhi, led UPA — it is partly a consequence of the utter failure of the BJP to provide a suitable opposition to the misrule of the UPA.
To learn how disastrously divided the BJP is you should read the Express Buzz article “Divided and Ruled Out” by Prabhu Chawla. It is depressing but essential reading. Here’s a tiny excerpt from it.
Fighting to lose it all
The central leadership on the other hand seems busy consuming large quantities of the party symbol, the lotus. In history, leaders change in every institution and new groups are born. Institutions that succeed do not cast earlier mentors into political winter, especially in a summer of discontent— mainly because experience guides enthusiasm. Mysteriously, the BJP headquarters has discarded the authors of the party’s popular, ideological and strategic prominence— Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Arun Shourie. Once a party of titans, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was never afraid to speak his mind and encouraged a spirit of civilised dissent within the party, these senior leaders have been sidelined because they refuse to be part of any group and possess independent minds. Gadkari’s biggest challenge is how to manage the cabals within. In Delhi, the duel between the two Opposition Leaders in Parliament—Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj—continue to cause discomfort in the party rank and file. Political hostilities in Maharashtra went national when the BJP’s Deputy Leader of the Opposition Gopinath Munde rebelled against party chief Gadkari—an old Maharashtra hand—only to arrive at an uneasy truce.
. . .
No more icons left
The satrap strife in the saffron party might end in the BJP squandering away a great opportunity to shape up as a credible alternative to the Congress, whose image has been battered by scams. . .
If that article is to be believed — and I don’t see any reason for it to misrepresent the facts — then the infighting within the New Delhi leadership of the BJP must be something unbelievable. The BJP’s ability to mount a successful (and sorely needed) opposition to the misrule of the Congress is inversely related to the degree of infighting within the BJP. The Congress party must be rubbing its hands with glee at the sorry spectacle.
What the BJP needs — and indeed what India needs — is a real leader. Someone who has the vision and the ability to motivate Indians to make India a nation of winners, not an India where the so-called leaders are whining toadies that the Congress party has promoted for so long.
While the first part of the Express Buzz article is depressing as all hell, the second part focuses on a hopeful sign for India. (It is a curiously divided article — it appears to end and then it starts off again.) That hope is a man named Narendra Modi.
His work culture in the party and in the state seems like a plan to establish credentials for a bigger platform—a worry for many in the party. BJP General Secretary Jagat Prakash Nadda says, “When I was with the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), Narendra Modi was the in-charge. He remembers every task given to a BJYM worker, in the same sequence in which it was assigned, even after 20 days and asks for compliance reports.” As Chief Minister, Modi remains always unflappable. His message to the babus is clear: “Work has to be done. If you cannot manage, someone else will do it.”
Many senior BJP leaders feel insecure that at party conclaves, it is Modi who draws the maximum applause from the workers, with nationalist rhetoric and acidic barbs against the Congress. This, perhaps, explains why many BJP bigwigs are busy building bridges with other political parties. Hoping the NDA does well in 2014, the jockeying for support for the prime post has begun—Jaitley is assiduously cultivating Kumar, while Swaraj goes about wooing Jayalalithaa.
At the BJP National Council meeting in Indore in February 2010, when BJP President Nitin Gadkari formally assumed charge, Modi tore apart the UPA Government’s policy on national security, wondering why it was in a hurry to resume a dialogue with Pakistan. “As a mature democracy, there is even greater need to talk to the principal opposition party. Did they ever feel the need to talk to the BJP?”
In the BJP, it seems, the need to talk to Modi isn’t apparent.
I think the time will come when the BJP leadership will have to talk to Narendrabhai Modi. India needs an alternative to the Congress, and Indians don’t need a BJP which is just a Congress B-team. The BJP is the only other national party and it is time it realized that and behaved like one.
Let me conclude by quoting the concluding bit of that article.
■ Stable government; Modi is the longest-serving Chief Minister of the BJP
■ Consistently high economic and agricultural growth
■ No communal riots post-2002
■ Vibrant Gujarat summit attracts record investment which shows that Modi enjoys investors’ confidence
■ Administrative efficiency, modernisation
■ Gujarat, rated as best e-governed state, is set to usher in village-level e-governance
■ Swagat online grievance redressal that enables direct communication of citizens with CM besides steps like evening courts, Jyotigram electrification scheme, Kanya Kelavani Yojana have made Modi successful.
If Modi wins, India wins. So all is not lost since Modi will win. Modi has to win because I refuse to believe that India cannot get out of the hole that the Congress has dug for it.