BJP had to be through an unavoidable introspection, post the Bihar set-back. Like the Indian cricket team, BJP was able to snatch a grand defeat from the jaws of victory. In fact, the BJP, sometimes it seems, is a true reflection of what is strong and what is weak about India – high philosophy, large size, great talent, but, inconsistent, emotional, and propensity of getting deviated from core values and objectives etc. The strength of a chain is determined by the strength of its weakest links. And, BJP is no exceptions with some weak links of its own.
Every strategy runs the risk of a possible negative outcome. BJP had faced a complicated strategy-situation in Bihar. During last ten years, she was herself a major part of the NDA government in Bihar – for good eight years. And this NDA government had done positive work too. BJP had to make a choice between the option of targeting the Mahagathbandhan with a twenty-five years of Lalu-Nitish anti-incumbency or the anti-incumbency of only seventeen years with the pro-incumbency of eight years for herself. Which choice would have been better can now be analysed in hindsight only.
The unwanted outcome of the BJP’s adopted strategy of highlighting the twenty-five years of anti-incumbency against the Mahagathbandhan, notwithstanding the potential gains from it, was that the credit for the good work between 2005 to 2013 done by NDA government was likely to be cornered solely by Nitish Kumar, and the Lalu-Congress duo were to reap the benefits of that good work.
The credit for the forward march during past ten years could not have been taken away from Nitish Kumar just as it could not be taken away from BJP herself. But, highlighting the ‘work not done’ during last ten years had two bad implications for herself: one, the people got encouraged to look at that part of the work which had been done in ten years, and two, the BJP was blaming herself too for the ‘failures’ of the ten years.
BJP had planned to keep ‘Vikas’ as the only focus of her Bihar electoral campaign and PM Modi had very effectively defined the meaning of ‘Vikas’ as ‘Bijli, Sadak, Pani, Padhayee, Kamayee, Dawayee’. It got into people’s minds well. But, BJP’s opponents had laid their own traps to deflect her from its main plank of development, and so, the matters of beef, ‘forward-backward’ etc were deliberately raised; and these traps seemed quite attractive to some BJP leaders who chose to fall into them.
Nitish Kumar’s was the only name in circulation as CM candidate during the campaign. In a situation where BJP had not announced its own CM candidate, it may now be argued in hindsight, BJP could have, instead of keeping Nitish Kumar in the centre of electoral discourse, opted for ignoring the presence of Nitish Kumar in the field altogether and focused exclusively on its own positive agenda of development.
The current introspection would prepare BJP well for the future. Out of this introspection, a more productive outcome would emerge if, in addition to the personal self-introspection that the BJP leadership, top to bottom, have done these days, a compilation and analysis is undertaken of all the things spoken against the BJP and her leaders by the opponents, so that the manner in which such things have actually influenced the minds of the people in Bihar could be studied and understood.
BJP’s adversaries now have their own roadmap ready for coming days and weeks, one important component of which is to keep the temperature of country’s politics high and deflect BJP from her own positive agenda for the country. BJP’s primary task will be to remain true to herself and her mission, some important components of which have been – positivity, maturity, harmony, uncompromising honesty and hard-work. PM Modi’s motto ‘Sabka saath sabka vikas” has to be taken down by the party to every heart. BJP’s adversaries may not abandon their time-tested electoral strategy of ‘uniting the minorities and dividing the majority community’. But, BJP has to effectively follow the strategy of ‘uniting all Indians in the march towards national glory’
The primary reasons for BJP to be in the arena of power politics are two: to give strong patriotic thrust to the politics of the country, and to strive to take India to ‘Param vaibhav’. This puts upon BJP, and each of her members, a burden which is different from the burden that other parties are supposed to suffer from. BJP’s hallowed national mission necessarily demands a hundred percent positive, creative and intense political behaviour from her. If this behaviour is short of hundred percent, by whatever measure, it is as if zero.
BJP’s organisational transformation to cater to the demanding needs of the ruling party at centre requires to be speeded up. Its eco-system needs to be expanded and strengthened. The dynamics of the mind-set of the people, particularly the youth, needs to be understood more closely – what things they like and what they do not.
If there are communication gaps among various layers of BJP as party and as government, and between the party and government, they need to be addressed to. The top leadership may need to make more comfortable arrangements to ensure that the information and ideas emanating at lower levels in party and society reach the very top directly. This may necessitate looking into the need for offices of political secretaries to the PM and party president.
BJP’s commanding position in country’s politics gives it an opportunity to build pro-incumbency at all levels – centre, states, MPs, MLAs, municipalities. The party has to ensure through proper organisational arrangements that such cumulative pro-incumbency for BJP all around is actually attained. This wide-spread pro-incumbency for BJP is what will take India to ‘Param vaibhav’.