Elections 2009: What Next for the BJP? (Part 2)

Ideology: Clear and Contemporary

The Bharatiya Janata Party was born in 1980. As much, it is a sibling of many of us in today’s India. There are four key tenets that the BJP needs to address. Its Ideology should be based on a right of centre governance philosophy and a modern notion of cultural nationalism which goes beyond minority appeasement and the politics of votebanks and identity. Its policies need to be about opportunities to everyone for a better tomorrow, and not just money and food for today. Its polity must be built on inner-party democracy – one that can allow any ordinary citizen with merit to rise to the highest post in the land. Its governance philosophy should be based on creating a transparent, clean, accountable and participative government – one that is truly of, for and by the people in the spirit that is embedded in the Constitution of our nation.

BJP needs to make the shift from Hindu right to Centre right, and blend it with a modern interpretation of its core philosophies of Integral Humanism and Hindutva. Over time, these have been forgotten and mis-interpreted (and even mis-represented and misunderstood). The party cannot and should not discard its ideological foundation. What got the party here – the focus on Hindu Nationalism through the 1990s – will not take it forward in the 2010s. It needs to reinvent itself by clearly articulating what it stands for, rather than being a soul-less big tent.

Kanchan Gupta wrote about the need for ideology recently in The Pioneer: “Devoid of ideology, the BJP will cease to attract attention, leave alone support. Ideology is not only meant to influence policy but also serve as a restraining factor, ensuring discipline in public life and rectitude in personal life. It’s when ideology becomes a meaningless totem or inflexible dogma that a party loses its life force and the integrity quotient of its leaders suffers rapid erosion… The BJP, therefore, must decide its ideological direction/orientation, reframe ideology within the matrix of today’s India, and stand by it…The consequences of [this] course of action would be three-fold: Those allergic to ideological rigour will make an exit, debilitating the party in the short and medium term, but strengthening it in the long term; the BJP’s integrity quotient will increase substantially; and, the drift which began in 1998 will be arrested.”

Swapan Dasgupta, in an article in The Times of India, writes about the way forward: “Enlightened nationalism, good governance and modernity must become the party’s priorities.”

Tomorrow: Ideology (continued)

19 thoughts on “Elections 2009: What Next for the BJP? (Part 2)

  1. Reminds me of Tagore’s famous poem “Mind Without Fear” reproduced below:

    “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
    Where knowledge is free;
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
    Where words come out from the depth of truth;
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
    Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. ”

    Although romantic but truely inspiring!


  2. Some tight ropewalking…Rajesh.

    Perhaps the BJP should acquire the courage and keen sense of timing of Anna Durai, founder of the DMK and one time rabid secessionist.

    History says that the DMK rode to power on secessionist demands. Anna Durai understood that while the masses liked the DMK for what it stood for, its idea of secession from the Indian Union made many of them feel uneasy.

    Rather than drop the demand in one go, which would have meant a loss of face, he cleverly used the opportunity of the Chinese aggression (when nationalism was at an all time high) to jettison his own party’s demand for secession.

    To good effect. He may have lost some hard core cadres, but I guess that the DMK and its spin off the ADMK have never been out of real power ever since. Therefore I would say, drop the RSS led archaic agenda and gain the nation.

    As an individual, you have two options here, either jettison the ideology or jettison the party. Even best if you can do an Indira style split, us youth against those old stuffy fogeys.

    Yes, it can happen, a group of brave youngsters dissatisfied that the baggage of Hindutva dampens and misdirects their aspirations for the nation can choose to walk out and start a new party. After all nationalism is not about being Hindu alone, it is about putting the nation first.

    I know it calls for courage and sagacity. Also one should of course choose the right time and occasion to make that split.

    I am sure that a lateral offshoot of the party will be more vigorous and succesful given the right direction.

    And also acceptable to the many. More importantly to the human within you.

    May the Lords grant you and them the necessary courage. And tell you the right time to do it.

    Till then you are welcome to continue to pen these vision documents. It may even be necessary practice. 😉

  3. I agree with Udayapg.

    Until BJP sheds its saffron color and RSS tag it is hard to get vote banks. There was time and Vajpayee missed it…he could have factioned out and started.

    Now I don’t think anyone has the courage and identity to do that.

    Someone earlier also pointed out that who in BJP to fight Rahul? … If they find one… then the same guy can do it. Tone-down, Faction, Start Y-BJP.

  4. kasi, it was me who pointed out who in BJP will fight Rahul. But I am not sure abt the path u r suggesting.

    Or maybe, thats the path they shd take. A new beginning. You never know. But I still think we need that face for the BJP.

  5. Comments on Anna durai is good one. Infact he used dravidian chord to come to power and later they completely missed target. Very wrong example to quote. He used the market developed by EV Periyar and capatilized on the same. He could able to sell the vision and get in to the power without implementing. [ Something like RAM MANDIR ]

    Today DMK and ADMK is encashing on the market base which is created by earlier work of EVR and ANNA. Any new party also, even BJP cant stand different in that space.

    Big problem for BJP to disconnect connection from RSS would be, it is not capable to do the following independly. [ OR it is look like ]

    a) Lack of direction b) Cadre base c) Institution building capability d) Need an identity , Unique differention or Fear of being CONG B team

    It is like any company dilemma to think whether to open up new market or go to the same market with new slogans. The easy answer is DO BOTH which will end zero sum game for any party

    If we could able to answer the above both, or find out an implementable alternative it will reduce down tightness between both organisation.

    Some time political party needs some body who can create the space where always they can fish on. Which congress was doing with Gandhiji name. So we should not have problem RSS working on its agenda without disturbing BJP poltical growth.

  6. These are thinking times for the BJP. I am happy the debate has begun, though not officially. Thanks Rajesh Jain.
    Oblivion or Glory?

    The party finds itself at crossroads. It has just lost an election which was there to be won. After a lifetime of distinguished service to the party and the country, Advani ji has missed his last chance to lead the country. I fell sorry for him and I nearly cried when I saw him during the PM’s oath, looking for a seat. Only 100 or so more seats would have made him the boss that day. It is the country’s loss.

    Ke Sra Sra, What shall be, shall be. Things are as they are today. The question today is what Rajesh Jain has aptly put as “What next for BJP?” This question sure needs an answer. Only then can we dream of a BJP government in 2014.

    The crossroads have many paths. The BJP has to choose one today. The path which will take it to Glory. Choosing a wrong path will take it to oblivion. So the choices are Glory or Oblivion.

    Why this defeat? I saw it coming, at least in the last stages. Just see the build up to the elections. Kandhamal, Muthalik and Ram Sena and the Manglore incident, Raj Thackerey and the MNS, and the piece of the cake goes to Varun Gandhi, who derailed the whole campaign of Advani ji just when the things were looking good. People were not amused by all this. Contrast it with the Congress scene. Rahul spreading charm, coming across as a decent guy, a weak Manmohan Singh getting a solid backing from Sonia Gandhi.

    The moral of the story is that the country does not identify with the BJP’s image. An image created by the the nearness to these organisations. Consider why the allies of the BJP have abandoned it? The image is unacceptable in this modern day India.

    The solution in part lies here. The image overhaul. A sincere effort. An effort that understands what the people of the country, especially the Youth ‘Want’ and not what the party or its associates want. Whatever the ideology or positioning, but the masses should identify with it. It is high time that the ‘Parivar’ be not limited as of now (even the majority in the BJP does not identify with this Parivar!), but the Parivar be the whole of India and its people. Just being in the the political sphere demands that a party has to be people-centric and not Parivar centric.

    Ever wondered why Vajpayee ji was and still is acceptable in the country?

    Moreover, the BJP has to ride on its strength. The strength is Good Governance. The BJP governments at state level and the Vajpayee ji Government at the centre are shinning examples of what BJP has to offer.

    It is the youth like us and the likes of Sudheendra Kulkarni and Swapan Dasgupta who have the guts of facing the problem. Anybody who identifies with the modern India in which we live and understands the values and aspirations of the times in which we live, will have these guts and all this debate will go a long way in making the right choice.

    The crossroads shall yield. It is a sojourn from the Antagnostic through Diagnostic to the Glory. Then it will be an odyssey in the mainstream of India and its people.

  7. Yesterday Udayapg coined a slogan “India First”. I like the thought and shall contemplate on this concept. Great work. You’re a genius Udayapg.

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