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Lame Duck Leads BJP?
by Dr. Rajinder Puri Bookmark and Share

Despite strenuous assertions to the contrary it may safely be said that the RSS and BJP function as one team. Readers would recall that on November 7th the inner party intrigues related to the controversy surrounding BJP President Mr. Nitin Gadkari had been highlighted in these columns. Subsequently senior RSS ideologue Mr. MG Vaidya repeated some of the points raised in these columns to create a political storm. It is true that Mr. Vaidya claimed to express his views in his personal capacity and not in any way reflect the views of the RSS or any faction within it. But why, then, did both the RSS and the BJP, as well as Mr. Gadkari himself, have to publicly dissociate themselves from what Mr. Vaidya said if the functioning of the RSS and BJP is not connected?

In India there is a permissive culture that allows easy flouting of procedure. For all practical purpose therefore all political organizations function as arbitrary dictatorships ...

Incidentally Mr. Vaidya differed fundamentally from this writer in the analysis that he offered. Mr. Vaidya alleged that Mr. Narendra Modi was orchestrating the campaign against Mr. Gadkari by utilizing Mr. Ram Jethmalani.

Why would Mr. Modi do that?

A tainted and weakened Mr. Gadkari would suit Mr. Modi because even as the party president he would offer no threat. It had been pointed out in these columns:

“Mr. Jethmalani’s outbursts are perceived as support for Mr. Modi. One should not be fooled by the wily ways of politicians. It is true that Mr. Modi helped Mr. Jethmalani to become an MP for which reason he must support him. But it is equally true that Mr. Gadkari’s immediate removal would have greatly helped Mr. Jethmalani’s old pal, Mr. Advani, to fill the breach. Mr. Advani is by no means a great fan of Mr. Modi. As president he would be a formidable counterweight.”

What should worry the Sangh Parivar are not the exposures about personal clashes within the BJP as much as the systemic flaws that have been revealed by the present crisis. These flaws explain why the organization is not succeeding despite its formidable cadres.

Broadly speaking institutions and organizations follow set procedures while functioning. If the procedures have been devised sensibly there is a self-corrective mechanism that prevents or rectifies failure provided procedure is scrupulously observed. In India there is a permissive culture that allows easy flouting of procedure. For all practical purpose therefore all political organizations function as arbitrary dictatorships regardless of what their written constitutions might claim. And contrary to popular perception a genuinely democratic organization will always triumph over a dictatorship.

Witness how democratic Britain defeated even a highly focused and efficient dictator like Hitler. The strength of the British has always been in fact their strict observance of procedure.

In the current controversy afflicting the BJP what is most glaring is the party’s brazen disregard for procedure. Mr. Vaidya was perfectly correct in asserting, as had been done earlier in these columns, that the leaders openly and stridently criticizing Mr. Gadkari in the media should have resigned from the party. That was neither done nor was it demanded by anyone within the BJP. What Mr. Vaidya failed to mention, and what was equally if not more important, was the fact that neither did BJP President Mr. Gadkari discharge his basic responsibility to maintain discipline by issuing show cause notices to the errant leaders to give satisfactory explanation for their conduct or face disciplinary action. Perhaps Mr. Gadkari felt too hampered and impotent to have discharged this obvious responsibility. In that event he should in all honesty ask himself why he wants to continue as the party president. Does he, or the BJP, or the RSS seriously believe that a lame duck president is better than no president for the party before an impending election? It would be far better for the BJP to address its fundamental systemic flaws instead of focusing on personality clashes that have divided the party.

The forthcoming assembly election results will affect the party’s immediate future. Its systemic flaws will damage it forever.

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