Saturday, April 21, 2012

BJP must get its act together

The BJP is the Principal Opposition Party to the Congress and the ruling alliance in power in India - the UPA. In name atleast.

The current government is reeling under a series of scandals - ranging from the distribution of 2G licences, the construction of infrastructure for the CommonWealth Games and most recently, related to Defence Procurement. Atleast of two of its ministers have spent time in jail and atleast one continues to be in prison with others at different levels of investigation. The Prime Minister of the ruling dispensation is a silent man - he speaks but rarely. But even he is a garrulous man as compared to his bosses - Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi - who are mostly seen in photos and rarely in person. In their photos they usually wave to crowds (perhaps, of photographers) and are not known to give any interviews. The leaders of the Congress party are never seen on TV defending the many faces of corruption – they are allowed to get away with platitudes like “Action will be taken” or “We are against corruption” or just silence.

If corruption is a big issue, the governance part has been abysmal as well. The BRICs that the India story was part of is coming apart. The India part of the BRICs for sure. Governance has been uninspiring, ruddlerless and mostly reactive. There are barely any positive messages coming out. Handwringing seems to the flavor of the day when it comes to leadership. Foreign policy has been abysmal. India has been doing all the wrong things in the past few years – wandering aimlessly in the diplomacy space instead of using its clout to settle issues, mediate and generally remain a force to reckon with. Instead what we have is a capitulation to vote against Sri Lanka, a denial of the Chinese threat and ability and a clueless approach to Pakistan.

In the midst of all this, you would think that the principal opposition party would have positioned itself as the champion of bringing the government down. And yet that is not the case. The anti corruption cases are being fought in courts by Subramaniam Swamy a politician of repute but not in any of the houses at present. He and Prashant Bhushan - an advocate who fights various things, but also has distinctly anti-national views on Kashmir are together on some cases. The anti corruption movement is spearheaded by Anna Hazare and his team - a rather motley set of people comprising mostly of ex-bureaucrats of one form or another. Baba Ramdev - a yoga guru with tremendous business interest and influence in "Middle India" - is another.

Where is the opposition party in all this? The election in Indias largest state happened recently and the principal ran a lackluster campaign that brought out more infighting than inspiration. The result of it was clear. The party emerged as an also ran in a state which it ruled less than a decade or so back. One theory could be that the BJP is waiting for the UPA to unravel itself layer by layer. But they have seen that the UPA is like a Phoenix. It has its own lives and manages to attract allies with a combination of posts and promises and a chance to make money. Quite unlike the BJP, they handle the media very well – which in turn pays it back in terms of positive coverage.

No battle was ever won with the opposition doing nothing. True, the BJP leaders give speeches, press conferences and newsbytes every now and then. Yet, where is their alternate vision of governing India? Why is that vision not being articulated? The leaders of the party are seen on TV regularly but mostly in defensive positions – where they are asked to comment on goings on within their own party.

Over all these years, where every politician worth his salt seems to own or run a TV channel (some politicians have two channels), the BJP has none. The BJP has been providing good governance in the states that it rules. Gujarat, MP, Karnataka and newly elected Goa to name a few. If you add the NDA – Bihar has been doing rather well on national parameters. Yet, the BJP/NDA finds it difficult to articulate this position in the media or in front of its voters. There is no niche in the media space that brings out the BJP position on anything of national importance. What is there are maverick writers or social media or some good curated websites who are frustrated with this lack of vision.

In this whole mess the BJPs message (if any) to its voters is lost. They still have another year to go before elections are announced. Now is the time to up the ante and get the people on their side.

(Published as an oped in Pioneer with some edits)


Shyam Sundar said...

Thanks for your blogs. You seem to have a soft corner to Modi than Rahul/ BJP over congress . I was a happy guy when congress won with Majority thought now they have the political power of doing what is required for India but unfortunately it was the other way round. Now jumping boat to BJP for a change and I admit BJP should pull their act together definitely as a national party. Will it be possible for you to do blog on who should be the next PM candidate on BJP ? How do you think Modi can really be a help to INDIA if elected PM - This one is important i hear lot of good points and bad points and media in certain facts is really biased. There is time left, I thank if you make me a little more aware with a blog.

Shyam Sundar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maxi said...

I full support Modi not BJP... India got its vision 20-20 if Modi becomes PM..
Get some fun