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)

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.