The second successive defeat in General Elections has induced total disarray in India's main Opposition political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP which prided itself as a party with a difference and as a well disciplined political party has suddenly lost its sheen. It seems no different from any of the smaller faction-ridden political parties. Regrettably, in what was considered as the main strength of BJP, that is a group of seasoned and experienced political leaders at the apex level, it is they who have fired the first shots at what may eventually lead to the disintegration of BJP as an effective leading Opposition Party.
The sudden and unexpected disarray in BJP has been provoked by two of its senior and seasoned political heavyweights, namely, Shri Jaswant Singh and Shri Yashwant Singh. The main grouse of these two leaders is not ideological but seems more personal in nature. Their objections basically stem from the appointment by the Party of Shri Arun Jaitley as Leader of the Party in the Upper House and Shrimati Sushma Swaraj as Deputy Leader of the Party in the Lower House. The line taken by these two leaders generally is that the BJP's strategists who could not ensure the return of BJP to power stand rewarded. Since both these leaders are now returned to the Lower House, neither of them could be the Leader of BJP in the Upper House. Does it mean that they should have been considered for the appointment of Deputy Leader in the Lower House? Or is it their grouse that since Shri L K Advani could not lead the BJP to power in the General Elections it is they who should have been considered for the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House?
Whatever be the case, it goes beyond saying that the actions of these two BJP leaders by going public with their personal grouses have severely dented the already battered political image of the BJP. If it has earlier been projected that the failure of the BJP in the last General Elections was a collective Party failure then both Shri Jaswant Singh and Shri Yashwant Sinha too have to share and assume responsibility for the failure of the BJP. They have no right to pass on the failure to other BJP leaders.
The shortcomings of the BJP stand brought out in these Columns earlier. It needs to be reiterated again that two things must be implemented immediately if the BJP wishes to reinvent itself and emerge as a modern political party in sync with the overall aspirations of the Indian public.
The first and most immediate task is that the BJP must publicly manifest that it has severed its umbilical chord to its spiritual and political mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS must confine itself to function as a dedicated social service mass organization and not involve itself in the political affairs of the BJP. The RSS is increasingly being perceived by the Indian public and the majority of upwardly mobile Hindu middle class as an anachronism in present day Indian politics. One no longer sees any large scale and visible RSS involvement in mass social work in India in disaster relief, medical camps etc which used to take place earlier and had won praise from RSS detractors also. It is time the RSS reverts to that noble role rather than be seen as issuing papal political diktats to the BJP.
The second immediate task is to replace the ideology of 'Hindutava' as the ideology of 'Indian Nationalism'. While in essence both may be the same but in today's age and mood, people all over the world abhor religious labels. 'Indian Nationalism' is seemingly a more broader and more inclusive term and would find greater acceptability,
Besides these two fundamental changes, if the BJP wishes to arrest its downslide into disarray, it must immediately engage and be committed to a total restructuring of the Party in terms of a leadership change at the apex level, change in the Party President and changes in BJP State units presidents wherever the BJP has made no gains in the last General Elections.
The Indian public politically wishes to see new faces and youthful leaders at the BJP apex level who inspire the ever increasing young generation Indians . The BJP needs to recapture the imagination of the Indian public once again by demonstrating that it is 'a party with a difference'.