by R Jagannathan May 14, 2013 11:58 IST
It is completely out of place for the BJP to be gloating over the problems of the Congress over Coalgate, its embarrassment over having to sacrifice two ministers, and the apparent dent in the Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi relationship due to recent developments. The PM’s name is mud, and Sonia Gandhi has been shown to be the real power behind a toothless government.
The BJP may feel vindicated by the fact that the media is now commenting unfavourably on the weakness of the PM, including his complicity in the Coalgate scam if not 2G. But this can be little more than schadenfreude.
The truth is not just that Manmohan Singh stands exposed, but that the Congress' failure is really a reflection of the BJP’s own disastrous performance in opposition. This is why the BJP should now be prepared to lose the next election too.
The BJP has simply lost the ability to think strategically, embroiled as it is in its own intra-party leadership games.
There are at least seven deadly sins that the BJP is guilty of, and it needs to address them before this country is willing to give it a second look. These are:
1: Crisis of empty egos. The party lacks any kind of central leadership. Its real leaders are all in the states – Narendra Modi, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Sushil Modi, Vasundhara Raje, Raman Singh and Manohar Parikkar, probably in this order of importance. The headquarters generals are people with bloated egos. They can bark before TV cameras, but cannot win a single seat on their own - from LK Advani to Sushma Swaraj to Arun Jaitley. To top it all, there is the RSS with its own agenda.
2: Policy incoherence. The party has no well-articulated articulated position on any issue. Each leader has his own view on FDI, or food security or anything. As a supposed Right-wing party, the party’s apparent position on the Food Security Bill is that it wants more people covered – 90 percent, as against the 65 percent the Bill proposes. This is asinine. It seems the only counter the party has for the Congress’ foolishness on food security is greater foolishness on the Bill.
3: Mindless posturing: The party has no strategy in Parliament or outside it. Disruptions in parliament once in a while may be unavoidable, but continuous disruption is going to cost the party a lot of votes. The electorate is going to ask – even without help from the Congress – why send these people to parliament when they won’t let it function anyway? The mindless disruption shows that there is no thought behind any action planned by the party. Even assuming the party wants to fight its battles on the street, it can have a plan for agitations – but there is no such plan. There is only empty posturing.
4: Blind to its own interests. The party does not know the difference between opportunity and threat. Take the demand for the resignation of Manmohan Singh. Has the party thought through what it will achieve by this demand? It is Manmohan Singh’s existence as PM that gives BJP even as outside chance of faring better in 2014 – since everyone knows he has no powers and is generally making a mess of governance. Once he is gone, how will the BJP benefit? It is another matter that Sonia may have no alternative to Singh, but that is hardly the reason why BJP should celebrate.
5: Misgovernance: The BJP is an open advertisement for misgovernance, not governance. If the next election is going to be fought on this issue, the BJP’s central leadership is hardly the best example of for it. It can brandish Narendra Modi, but the party’s central leadership has done little beyond playing political games to undercut him in one way or the other. Nor does it have the gumption to opt for someone else. This shows how disorganised and foolish its behaviour is.
6: No survival ethic. The BJP is surviving (not thriving) on the Congress’ weakness – just like the Congress is doing so on the BJP’s weakness. A strong opposition helps create a strong government – but the BJP has been so weak, that it is incapable of affecting the Congress’ fortunes on its own. Put another way, the Congress’ bad governance record and arrogance is a mirror-image of its own ineptitude and arrogance. The BJP’s presumption that the people have no option but to vote for it smacks of arrogance, too. One can’t now rule out a third front government because the twin weaknesses of Congress and BJP will force people to consider the third option – however incoherent it may be.
7: Indiscipline: The party’s indiscipline is being explained away as inner party democracy. The BJP wrongly assumes that party leaders talking out of turn – on leadership issues, policies, etc – is somehow a sign of democracy. It is not. There is no reason why the party does not act against a loose cannon like Ram Jethmalani, or others who keep making statements on who they prefer as PM candidate. Yashwant Sinha talked about preferring Modi as the candidate, and then said even Advani would be acceptable. And this same Yashwant Sinha was a bitter critic of Advani after the party’s loss in 2009.
One can go on and on. But it is time that the BJP realised there is no such thing as collective leadership without inner party discipline.
The party is unfortunately run at the centre by unelectable TV actors and not real leaders. It is time for the party cadre to tell them to shut up and elect a true leader.
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