The megaphone from Mumbai is loud and clear. The BJP is more confused and plagued with internal conflicts than ever before. It is left with only managers and has lost leaders who can inspire and lead the party. Its honchos have acquired the art of managing the media, corporate leaders, the culturati and the chatterati, but have forgotten the technique of connecting with the ordinary karyakarta. Its leaders are experts in choosing words meant for the media but offer no clear message, which an ordinary worker can carry back to his constituency. At the end of the two-day conclave, there was no clarity about the command and control system in the party. Those who occupied places of prominence on the dais painted the party as one of India’s worst-divided political outfits. The meeting indulged in UPA bashing. It adopted well-drafted resolutions on agriculture and politics. Former party president Rajnath Singh made a scathing attack on the UPA’s agriculture policy and made innovative suggestions for development. Uma Bharti got a standing ovation for her Ganga revival plan. But the party’s spokespersons forgot to inform the press about such constructive discourses. The BJP’s economic resolution was more of an apology for India Inc than a boost for the party’s core constituency.
If Mumbai was meant to project an image of unity in diversity, it turned out to be one of the BJP’s most disastrous conclaves. Instead of projecting the progressive work done by its chief ministers in BJP-ruled states, its top leaders reveled in personality bashing, leaving no one in doubt that the party was without a slogan, strategy or solution. Though Modi charged the Congress of being a party without a niti, neta or niyat, it is his own organisation that lacks a credible agenda for governance. Ironically, the BJP’s self-imposed Central leadership has always failed to enthuse cadres with the development gains achieved by chief ministers like Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Narendra Modi, Raman Singh, Manohar Panikkar and Prem Kumar Dhumal. None of them are allowed to take centrestage on platforms where the party’s problems and programmes are discussed. In contrast, Congress President Sonia Gandhi always ensures that all Congress chief ministers, CWC members and other prominent leaders share the dais with her.
The party waiting to replace the Congress at the Centre is still paralysed by personalities driven by personal ambitions. With a foe like the BJP, the Congress doesn’t need a friend to retain power in Delhi. Over 150 wise men and women from various parts of the country had gathered in Mumbai to discuss the party’s future. Instead, they ended up talking about its dirty past, promiscuous present and uncertain future. They returned to their states sans any mantras for success. They had only one question: who is leading the party in Delhi? Is it Advani who chose to skip the rally in protest against a second term for Gadkari? Is it Sushma who didn’t receive full support from her party to lead a frontal attack on the government in Parliament? Or Gadkari who had to sack a trusted RSS swayamsewak so that the party’s most successful and powerful chief minister, Narendra Modi, could attend the conclave and address a public meeting with Gadkari? Or was it Arun Jaitley for whom the air-conditioned thrills and frills of the glamorous IPL are more soothing and rewarding than the sweaty surroundings of a crammed hall in south Mumbai?
Tragically, the BJP, a party of cadres and commitments, has turned into a coalition of individuals who follow the principle of convenience and not conviction. If it is dreaming of a triumphant return to power, it has to shed its image of a party without an ideology. Currently, it is perceived as the most dependable, friendly opposition to the UPA. The joke in party circles is that the BJP may be in the opposition, but some of its leaders are part of the UPA coalition. It is this pro-government coterie that has kept the internal war alive so that the Congress can survive the rest of its term peacefully. The mesmerised captive audience in Mumbai failed to see through the games being played from the dais.
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