The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has shifted its New Delhi headquarters from 11 Ashoka Road to 6 Deen Dayal Upadhyay Road.
Of course, it is purely coincidental that the previous BJP headquarters was housed at Ashoka Road, named after greatest ruler of ancient India, and its new headquarters is at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Road, named after one of the foremost political ideologues of modern India and the tallest icon of the party. But, as far as the politics of symbolism goes, BJP leaders and workers would feel extremely gratified.
The new, swanky 1.70 lakh square foot BJP headquarters, inaugurated on Sunday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the most powerful leader the Sangh Parivar ever produced, is a declaration of power: Of changing times, changing thoughts and changing desires. The BJP has made a huge statement to its political peers and the nation.
The size of the building, style, design, décor, grandeur, modern connectivity, and the speed with which this huge complex of three blocks with a seven-storey main structure and buildings either side of it were raised and opened, reflects the massive change which has taken place within the BJP's thought process.
The BJP of yesteryear took pride in austerity. Its ideological fountainhead, the RSS, still takes pride in living and working with visible austere measures. This was true for other political parties also. Guided by socialistic thought, all parties would operate from buildings or bungalows provided by the Union or state governments and leaders would necessarily appear in public in khadi kurta-pajama uniform.
The BJP’s new headquarters is symbolic of India and its political leadership casting off the old socialist ideology. It symbolises what Modi refers to "new India", and its newfound confidence and capabilities.
The BJP under Narendra Modi-Amit Shah dispensation is not afraid to make bold, loud statements. Modi changed the way public rallies and political conclaves were held. His 2014 campaign was designed in a style and on a scale — using modern communication technique — India had never seen. Now, other political parties, including Congress are following suit.
The grand BJP office is yet another statement by the Modi-Shah combine which political parties, in time, will follow. Shah was not shy in claiming that the BJP office was the largest of any political party in the world. In fact, Shah took credit for that: The biggest party on earth, the biggest office on earth. They did not bother with what critics and rivals would say: Why, in a poor country, was a political party indulging in an obvious display of wealth and power?
It should be noted that BJP leaders were never averse to change, but after Modi and Shah arrived, it moved to a whole other level. LK Advani was a pioneer in using digital diaries and cell phones. He was always willing to learn new technologies and its applications to organise better. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ensured that Indian airports looked and felt world-class and that India built highways and expressways on which driving became a pleasure. Vajpayee began connecting the nation with "super highways" comprising four, six and eight lanes. He also brought some innovations at the prime minister's residence at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg (formerly Race Course Road).
But then, during the Vajpayee-Advani era, the party headquarters at Ashoka Road looked and felt mundane, resembling an RSS swayamsevak. Things began to change at BJP headquarters when Nitin Gadkari became president in 2009. Instead of the usual dhoti-kurta or kurta-pajama uniform of a politician, Gadkari wore cotton or linen trousers and short sleeve shirts. He would work and hold meetings late into the night. He also abandoned the white ambassador car which was used by past party presidents.
Gadkari began changing the old headquarters. Even as the exterior remained the same, the conference rooms, offices of president and other office-bearers underwent renovations, a process which continued in the Shah era. The interiors began to resemble a corporate office than that of a political party.
But with the new BJP office, Modi and Shah have scaled new heights: It looks like a top class corporate house, a modern government building, and faintly resembles a newly-built Parliament Library inside Parliament House. The new office also reflects the altered power equation in Parliament and the country.
Ironically, the BJP, with a clear majority in Lok Sabha and singe largest party in Rajya Sabha, benefited in terms of land allocated to it by rules framed by UPA government in 2006 following a Supreme Court directive asking parties to vacate official bungalows in Lutyens' Delhi.
Unfortunately, the Congress can’t take credit for benefiting BJP with rules that were framed under its command 11 years ago. It is now under pressure to vacate four government bungalows in central Delhi: Congress headquarters at 24 Akbar Road, Seva Dal (one of its organisations) at 26 Akbar Road, Youth Congress office at 5 Raisina Road, and C-II/109 Chanakyapuri, occupied by Vincent George, a close aide of Sonia Gandhi.
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Updated Date: Feb 19, 2018 20:21:11 IST