Elections 2009: What Next for the BJP? (Part 7)

Organisation (continued)

With this background, how is it that the BJP can create a process by which it can keep winning – and winning. Here are the elements that it needs to create:

  • On-Ground Presence: BJP needs to create Constituency-level teams that keeps working through the years, builds database of people (supporters, undecideds, etc.), and has constant visibility through the years. This helps in creating and protecting ‘market share’ for the party. Voters must be able to interact, get problems solved, etc. The team must include 1-2 ‘leaders’ with a clean, professional background who could even contest the election if needed.
  • Funding: There needs to be a way by which the BJP can collect micropayments. Currently, the party relies on a few large donors. This needs to be complemented by millions of people giving Rs 100-1000 per year. This money pool is not being tapped into. By getting people to make small contributions, the party will also get their implicit commitment and votes.

Taken together, these two components can create a strong foundation. The Funding must take care of the On-Ground Presence, and that presence will in turn provide the Funding – creating a model that can be scaled up across India.  This needs to create a presence at all 3 levels – corporation (or panchayat in rural areas), state, Lok Sabha.

In addition, the party needs to activate its sources of youth leadership (BJYM, ABVP) to expand the base to attract those in sync with the party’s ideology, work closely with the RSS through the latter’s social programmes, and create new channels like the Friends of BJP which can connect with urbanising Middle India. The party needs to start appealing to the new, younger India with a contemporary message – thus expanding its base.

The party also needs to encourage and enable lateral entry of youth and professionals into it – they will bring freshness and enthusiasm along with their own networks which can help diversify the party’s base.

The party must start ensuring that it is present in every one of the 543 constituencies of India. States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Kerala account for about 150 seats – and the party has barely a presence there. This needs to change.

The old way of fighting and winning elections has to change. Through these initiatives, the party can create something new and modern, and something even more powerful because this will create a market share (in votes) which no other party will be easily able to break into.

Tomorrow: Opposition Party Role, Conclusion

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.