WHEN a problem spirals out of control, it is easy to emulate the ostrich, stick your head in the sand and hope that it will go away. That is what is happening in the BJP. They are in denial mode. This past week, there has been a flurry of statements, denials, then statements denying the original denials, that has left the dedicated but confused cadres wondering: In the name of Lord Ram, will somebody please tell us what the hell is going on? The antics of its leaders have made the main opposition party the butt of all ridicule. It has a president whose vocabulary currently is limited to one word: NO. Ask him anything and he is in denial mode and the only answer you can draw out of him is an unconvincing NO. After the media leaked out parts of the “ confidential report” about the reasons for the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, Rajnath denied its existence.
Can Rajnath deny that BJP Vice President Bal Apte was given the task of preparing a background paper on the causes of the party’s humiliating defeat in May? Can he deny that Apte had dispatched two emissaries to various states to collect information from local units about the reasons for the losses? Can he deny that a nine page report formed part of the papers circulated among select participants before the party leaders set out for Shimla for the Chintan Baithak ? Getting into the denial mode comes easily to Rajnath. Nearly two months ago after the now expelled Jaswant Singh circulated a stinging letter amongst leaders at a BJP meeting, he denied the existence of such a letter, but only after getting Jaswant to withdraw it by placating him with the post of the Chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
Since the bitter defeat in May, the BJP leadership has been following up one priceless performance with another. They don’t seem to acknowledge that they have been soundly thrashed by the UPA in two consecutive elections; they see no need for soul searching. The Chintan Baithak ought to have been an occasion for honest introspection. Instead, as a party wag put it, it was all about baithak ( meeting), bhojan ( food) and vishram ( rest). It is difficult to believe that the BJP has its origins in the RSS which goes in for a b aithak only after drawing up a s oochi ( list of people to be invited) and s oochna ( agenda) for the meeting.
In the BJP, any list is arbitrary, often never finalised, and only at the last minute are agendas made.
What could be more bizarre than the party taking more than three months to meet for a post poll- post mortem? And what has this baithak achieved? Barring the spate of denials issued at Shimla, it appears that the leaders went all the way up to the hills just to get rid of one man who raised some inconvenient truths.
Thus the BJP that once prided itself on being “ the party with a difference” is now not willing to discuss its differences. Its leaders display a Stalinist streak that would make dyed in the wool Reds turn green with envy.
It is in the grip of a handful of wise men who shudder at the thought of seeking a popular mandate and yet think they know what is the best for the party and the people. After two back to back defeats, the very people who were responsible for these fiascos are now talking tough on ideology. Rajnath has asserted that Jaswant was expelled because he violated the BJP’s core thought and ideology which, “ is non- negotiable”. But has the BJP under its current set of leaders ever initiated internal debate or discussion? It is no secret that a section of its leaders advocate a return to its core values and revival of its pet issues while the other more elitist group pursues a more modernist policy. It is this group and its hangers on who are now saying that the party could not connect with its voters because of its fundamentalist mindset.
Indeed if that were so, why was Jaswant shown the door for exhibiting a liberal outlook? The BJP is in dire need of radical surgery. The only way to get the party back on its feet again is by throwing the whole lot out; elect a new chief and a new leadership and make a new start.The sooner, the better.