The recent internal feuds are certainly not healthy for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There have been glaring instances of serious infighting within the BJP. Sanjay Joshi, a senior BJP leader, had to quit the national executive to make way for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to attend the BJP’s national meet. Then, there is serious infighting in Karnataka where the BS Yedurappa camp has reportedly struck to its one-point agenda of removing Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda. A section of BJP leaders led by former Chief Minister BS Yedurappa is pushing for a replacement of present Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda and has set a timeline for the party high command to decide, failing which they would resign en-masse. In the 224-member Karnataka State Assembly, of the 121 BJP MLAs, Yedurappa reportedly has the support of about 70 members of which, as per a news item in a popular national daily, 51 members have shown signed support in favour of Yedurappa. The newspaper also reported that the faction comprising largely the members of the dominant Lingayat community are pinning hopes for installing Lingayat leader Jagadish Shettar as the Chief Minister and that Shettar, who was opposed by the Yedurappa group as replacement Chief Minister when Yedurappa was forced to quit under corruption charges in July 2011, is seeing the present crisis as a last opportunity to be the Karnataka Chief Minister.
The above indicators are not a very good precursor for the BJP in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. Factionalism is indeed an ominous trend. It must be realized that for a political party to remain in power, it must first of all keep its own house in order. Otherwise will people vote for such a party or in favour of a shaky coalition that has constant differences within itself? This is the first time BJP has formed a government in Karnataka, and when its first innings is marred by such disturbances, what precedent will it leave in the minds of the people. Won’t they think twice before again voting in favour of a party that is always engaged in such internecine feuds?
Apart from factionalism arising in political parties, what is indeed important is for a political party is how it tries to align itself and evolves, keeping in sync with time. This is something that the BJP has not been able to adapt over time. Take for instance the influence of the RSS. Despite having visionary leaders like Arun Shourie, Arun Jaitley and an excellent orator — the present Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha —Sushma Swaraj, the post of the party president has to anointed by the RSS and invariably he has to be an RSS affiliate (read Nitin Gadkari) regardless of the fact whether he has the charisma to lead the party or whether he is a known figure or not in national politics. It may be that in the initial years the RSS used to provide the grassroots cadres for strengthening the BJP in its formative years, but now when the party has stalwarts who have the ability to lead the party to new heights, why is the opportunity not provided to them?
The second is regarding the ideology of the BJP. It is high time the BJP came of age. It would do well to realize that its ideology of Hindutva has become obsolete. Today, in this world of IT and internet, the youth would not be much attracted to such ideology. It has hopes and aspirations much beyond that. That Hindutva will still be an attractive proposition is a foregone conclusion. It has to move beyond rath yatras and go for a reality check. Even if there is a rath yatra, it should be a yatra of development that contains something that appeals to 70 per cent of India’s young population who are between the age group of 25-30 years. These may be in the form of an innovative trajectory for infrastructure build-up, urban development, agriculture and rural development, health care, education and the like.
Thirdly, following from the above, the party has to put in place an effective roadmap as to how it would emerge as an alternative to the Congress. Had it been in power, what would it have done to curb inflation, what would it have done for bringing down the prices of essential commodities? And yes, what would be its take to deal with the canker of corruption? What can it do for improving the quality of lives of the people?
In the ultimate analysis, the BJP should also diagnose the various pros and cons of projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014. It is high time for the BJP to go for serious rethinking.