Elections 2009: What Next for the BJP? (Part 4)

Leadership: Decisive and Dynamic

The BJP and RSS have to first stop living in denial. There needs to be an acceptance that there is a deep set of problems that need fixing.  This election was not one where the BJP “lost just 20-odd seats.” It has to be seen from the point that the victor got 52% more votes and 78% more seats than the BJP. The BJP’s national vote aggregate is the lowest since 1991; its ‘market share’ is falling in a growing market (of voters).

One has to get to the core to start the revival process – and that core starts with Leadership. It always has. BJP’s votebank isn’t the transactional kind (the one that votes because of some immediate financial gain), it is the aspirational kind. India is a country where, for the most part, Congress has the default vote. For the BJP to win, it needs to do more. Its voters need to be inspired. It needs to be led.

Before anything else, BJP needs to get a New Leader. A leader who is given charge of the party for the next 5 years with a free hand. A leader who can rebuild the party. This leader may or may not be the prime ministerial candidate in 2014 – that bridge can be crossed later. The first goal is to get the internal house in order and win back the trust and confidence of people, before one starts making dreams of winning the 2014 elections. That will happen if the former happens.

What are the attributes of this New Leader?

  • Achievement is his (her) hallmark, and not Surname/Dynasty.
  • Age – in the 40s or 50s. Because BJP will have to fight an election in 2014 against a 43-year-old, because more than half of India is less than 35, and because over half of India will be urban and can be reasoned or emotionally swung.
  • Moderate in stance; Right of centre thinking
  • Caste / Religion doesn’t matter
  • Excellent Oratorial (and writing) skills – in English and Hindi (at the minimum)
  • A good listener
  • One who can take critical feedback directly and improve
  • Maintains self-control
  • A life story that can enthrall; someone who has risen from an ordinary background and come up the hard way in life
  • Someone Middle India can connect to
  • One who can make tough decisions
  • One who can inspire; “infectious enthusiasm” is the need of the hour
  • One who has tremendous Learnability – because the past is no guide to the future
  • One who can think out-of-the-box – and has shown an ability to do this in the past
  • One who is willing to devote the next 10+ years to a single cause – BJP and India
  • One who is a Team player – and willing to get in better people than himself

Tomorrow: Leadership (continued)

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.