Elections 2009: What Next for the BJP? (Part 5)

Leadership (continued)

Lest this be misunderstood, I am not asking for an authoritarian leader. I am asking for a Strong leader. And there is a difference. Strong leadership does not mean authoritarian leadership. I am asking for someone who can go out there and make the tough decisions that are needed. Someone who listens and acts — and doesn’t just try and please all around by either not making the hard decisions, or making weak decisions, or worse, not taking any decisions at all. Someone who doesn’t just sit around analysing the problem to death. Someone who inspires. I don’t have specific names in mind — what I am saying is that leadership matters. India has had weak leadership for a long time. That needs to change. This is not saying the same thing as putting an “authoritarian leader” in place.

Leaders can also be made. The BJP may not get the perfect leader, but if there is potential in someone, they need to give him the charge and let him grow into it. The party elders need to mentor him and get him ready for battle.

This decision on the New Leader can be only made by two people: LK Advani because he has the stature and legacy, and Mohan Bhagwat (who heads the RSS) because has a shared responsibility for the party’s future. Between them, they have to select the New Leader – and do so quickly. Everything else follows from this One Decision.

To make this decision, the two of them need to short-list people, and talk to them at length about their vision for the BJP, for the country, what they would do if given the responsibility. They also need to reference-checks on the people. And finally, they need to make a Decision. And get everyone else to fall in line.

Unfortunately for those in the party in their 60s and 70s, India has just skipped a generation. It is the harsh reality of life. It happens in tech, and the Indian voters just did that to our politics. The older generation has to mentor the new team through the next five years so they can take on the Congress team in 2014.

The BJP is where the Democratic Party was in the US in 2004. There too, the country re-elected their previous Head (Bush) despite misgivings of a broad section of people. And out of those depths emerged a new leader to take the country forward. 4-5 years is a long time in politics. BJP can win – and win big – in 2014. But for that, it has to recognise the depth of the problem, and be determined to make every hard decision to take us forward.  The BJP needs to find its Obama – an inspirational leader who can interface with the RSS, rally the cadre, and inspire the masses. Without the right leadership at this critical juncture, little else can be done.

Monday: Organisation

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.