BJP’s president race is important because it will provide contours of post LK Advani BJP. Among other it will indicate who will be the top gun.
BJP and the wider Sangh Parivar suffer from serious ailments which ZIM had covered in election analysis LS 2009. Its serious situation is an outcome for which essentially intent to placate congentially hostile elements, lack of discipline, poor understanding of money power and its influence on media are responsible. Above has resulted in among others perceived loss of credibility – serious handicap in electoral arena. As was pointed, rapid reorganization rollout is what will revive BJP rather than piecemeal approach.
ZIM believes that the thinking that a single person as president, even if fully empowered will be panacea for BJP ills is short sighted. What BJP needs is a triumvirate:
- Public face – potential PM candidate
- Organizations lead – someone that can crank up the organization
- Alliances Lead – who can convince alliance partner
These three roles call for differing focus and teams. Its better for BJP if all the three are announced one shot in umambiguous terms – persons capable enough to pull the organization as a team. New President may be the person who is first among the equals.
While there is clamor among some well meaning individuals for organization elections culminating in new leadership, present situation in BJP precludes rigorous US type primaries. In the short term we have to live with a well thought out decision. It can be said with good confidence that potential BJP voter (not just the core) would prefer NaMo should he put his hat in the ring. BJP and the wider Sangh Parivar would be fool hardy to ignore what its followers think. Among the names that did/are doing rounds, Manohar Parrikar too has quality backing.
Among Advani acolytes, Arun Jaitley has some credentials, but his credentials appear weaker compared to NaMo’s/Manohar Parrikar’s. (See below for why). AJ does have his strengths.
Nitin Gadkari, whose name is doing rounds in Delhi seems rather weak on the credentials.
Proposal: ZIM believes NaMo alone has the gravitas to be first among equals. Potential BJP face for PMship. Manohar Parikkar can be the organization man and Arun Jaitley – lead for Alliances.
Other important aspects include following:
- Visible female faces: In Vasundara Raje, Kiron Kher, Smriti Irani, Sushma Swaraj and prospective Uma Bharati, BJP can proffer a galaxy of competent women. Vasu’s imperiousness and her caste background are serious assets and unless there are compelling reasons publically articulated, she should remain the face of Rajasthan BJP and the leading BJP female light. Deploying Smriti Irani or Kiron Kher on media would be wiser than Prakash Javdekars.
- Uttar Pradesh: Swinging UP is crucial for BJP. A strong and charismatic leader who can pull BJP on a strong development agenda is important.
- Inorganic Growth: Integrating synergistic entities.
What to look for when top job is decided:
- Tack record
- Ability to inspire
- Managing disagreements
Parivar should be mindful that ‘Good consensus’ person as leader may turn out to be ‘good for nothing’ person. When I analysed credentials of the short listed candidates, it looked something like this:
Arun Jaitley: 57 years old, Delhi based, old ABVP hand is a seasoned BJP hand and claims to have involved in strategising victories in many state elections. His weakness is he has not seen failures unless one attributes 2004/09 LS failures to him. He is also perceived as a factional player and there are allegations of his using media plants to undermine some of his party colleagues. He has also been cited for his ties to Sonia Gandhi dynasty. He is a top lawyer, extremely articulate, well networked.
Manohar Parikkar: 54 year old RSS Man and IIT Mumbai alumnus, Manohar Parrikar has outstanding credentials – leading BJP to victory in Goa in the face of hostile islami-isai forces. Goa is a state where BJP was absent. Though a small state, politics there is complex. Manohar was responsible for enhancing Goa’s infrastructure remarkably.
Narendabhai Modi: 59 year old RSS man is a cult hero for native Indians. Someone known for cutting islamic extremism and evangelical deceit in Gujarat and making it the unofficial Hindu Rashtra. His contribution on development – infrastructure, job creation, social initiatives have resulted in native Indians across the spectrum backing him as India’s future Prime Minister. He has an added advantage of being from politically decisive middle castes of India. His weakness shared to an extent by both Manoar Parrikar and Jaitley’s is that he has not seen many failures.
Nitin Gadkari: 52 year Nitin Gadkari is known for improving road infrastructure in Maharashtra: through bridge constructions in Mumbai, Mumbai-Pune highway and initiating worli-bandra link. His inability to deliver Maharashtra to NDA despite woeful governance by UPA, known MNS factor, 26 November islamic terror attack remain serious albatross across his neck.
What will Revive BJP
- Coherent definition of Ideology elements such as Hindutva, Big Ideas that will have resonance in minds of voters. Clarity on the narrative and the discourse.
- Social Engineering to expand its voter base on social and economic criteria. Execution done by enabling the Organization machinary, effectively synergising with like minded organization/groups/opinion makers. Plan and execute how well it can hand-over tangible benefits to its prospective voter base.
- Inspiring and credible leadership of a proven performer like Modi who can bring in the incremental votes (something that Advani 2009 could not achieve). Credibility of leadership is important. Image should match reality. (Sickular muck throwing if effectively countered on ground will help shape ecosystem, aid BJP credibility, help potential BJP voter mobilisation)
Above three conditions in conjunction are necessary. A two legged or a one legged seat is never stable and unlikely to sustain BJP.