Some years back, a little known party, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), became a force to reckon with so much so that in 1999, it ousted the Congress party that had been single-handedly dominating the Indian political scene. It even became the first non-Congress government to last its full-term in office from 1999-2004.
Given the current political uncertainty surrounding the UPA-II and the constant media projections of early elections, it would only be opportune to evaluate how prepared is the BJP for the political battle ‘today’. What are the odds that if the general elections were to be held today, the BJP would come to back to power?
Here is a look at the key ingredients required for the BJP, infact for any party, to come back to power whether in 2014 or earlier than that.
First, comes the ideology. What is BJP’s ideology? For many people, BJP is still a pro-Hindu party despite its best efforts at shedding that image. This is one point that can work in favour as well against it. In favour because many Hindus, no matter how secular they may sound in public, secretly would want a pro-Hindu government at the centre. The same strategy could go against it because the minority sections of the society still find it hard to trust a party that openly supports Narendra Modi, a man widely considered to be tainted with the blood of hundreds of Muslims. Given the skewed ratio in favour of the Hindu population, overall this image could work in favour of the BJP.
Apart from the religious ideology, what does the BJP stand for? Many people would say that it is in opposition to whatever the UPA-II government stands for. And? There would not be much to fill the void. It is one thing to oppose whatever the incumbent government does, but another to give alternative solutions. BJP’s latest crusade against corruption is a case in point. No matter how hard it tries to piggy-back on Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement now, it was and will remain Anna’s movement. Moreover, most people know that in terms of corruption, almost all parties are equally culpable.
Another vital area required for winning an election is the presence of a strong leadership. So, who is the face of the BJP? Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitely, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari or the now-almost-forgotten LK Advani? Despite BJP’s best efforts to claim that the rationale for this indecisiveness is that unlike the Congress, theirs is a party where no one family dominates the leadership position, the people know that this is far from the truth. BJP does not have a problem of plenty as it is trying to project but, it has become a political army with too many wannabe generals and very few foot soldiers. Most of the top leaders want to be the ‘number one’ and only the ‘number one’. ‘Number two’ is not an option for them. On the lighter side, it would not be completely implausible to conjecture that perhaps many of these leaders joined a non-Congress party just for this reason, as in the Congress this is not an option that can be exercised without the mercy of the Gandhi family.
The current anti-Congress sentiment of the people at large is a golden opportunity that cannot and should not be frittered away in in-fighting. The time is ripe for the BJP to push for early elections.
So, what could be the possible solution to the current crisis the BJP is in? The answer lies in the grand old man, LK Advani, a man who has been sidelined by the BJP. The BJP strategists need to realize that nobody except for Advani can help them win the next elections. He may have lost the elections in 2009 but, he is still the best bet that the BJP can have. Perhaps, he is the only one who can unite the quarrelling brothers and sisters in the party. Even in the public eye, he is the most trusted man after AB Vajpayee – a man credited with the rise of the BJP in the first place.
Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitely, Nitin Gadkari and the like still have age by their side but, for Advani, this is his last chance. Perhaps he can win the next elections and give a befitting reply to Manmohan Singh’s jibe at him in the Parliament for being sour at having lost the prime ministership to him.
If the BJP misses the bus right now, it may have to contend with Rahul Gandhi in 2014. The Congress may project him as the candidate even if the elections are held early but, it is no secret that he is not yet ready. His party too is not yet ready. And, their allies too are not yet ready.
They say, a week is a long time in politics. The UPA has converted the India Inc. in its favour with just a week of reforms. It is anybody’s guess what it can do in one and a half years before the next general elections are scheduled to be held. Delays have dangerous ends, more so in politics. Weak parties wait for opportunities while the strong parties make opportunities. In this case, the opportunity has come knocking for the BJP. Would the party open the door? Or, will it keep the door shut till its quarrelling siblings call it a truce?
Knock! Knock! Is anybody listening?