The BJP seems, at last, to be moving in the right direction. The post- Vajpayee period had left it adrift and confused. Even though Vajpayees contemporary L K Advani still lingers on, it is only a matter of time before he is gently prodded to set
tle for a well- earned retirement.
After all, without completing the generational transition to the next rung of leadership, the BJP would continue to suffer from confusion and incoherence.
At a time when the Congress- led UPA Government is busy digging its own grave, it would be a pity if the main opposition party remained paralyzed in its own internal strife and generational shift. Clarity of leadership and ideological direction, which under the Vajpayee- Advani duo had been the strong suit of the Jana Sangh- BJP for decades, needs to be urgently restored. As the sole alternative to the Congress, greater responsibility vests with the BJP to get its act together. People tired of the ever- mounting corruption and misrule of the UPA Government are desperate for a clear and clean alternative. As the main opposition in Parliament, it is for the BJP to articulate the concerns of the people and to offer a distinct platform for change. Unfortunately, the last couple of years have seen the BJP leadership dissipate its considerable energies in settling personal scores and in petty factionalism. The two- day meeting of the national executive in Mumbai last week, therefore, gives hope that the BJP may at long last put behind all differences to try and become once again alt39alt39alt39alt39alt39alt39alt39alt39the party with a difference.alt39alt39 The country needs it. The Mumbai conference was significant for according Narendra Modi his due place in the partys hierarchy.
As the iconic Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi has carved a niche for himself in the hearts of a vast number of Indians.
For the rank and file of the BJP, he is the foremost leader of the party who is able and ready to lead the party at the national level in the 2014 election. Should Modi succeeds in winning Gujarat for the party for the third successive term in the State elections due later this year, he may in all likelihood shift to New Delhi to steer the party at the national level. Notwithstanding the mini NGO industry and a clutch of secularists, who get disproportionately high exposure in the media, Modi alone may be the leader who can reenergize the BJP rank and file for the electoral battles ahead.
Nitin Gadkari may have won a second successive term as party president but even he would not have any illusion of his electoral appeal. Both Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj are fine parliamentary leaders and an asset to the party but without substantive grassroots support they must learn to adjust in the Modi- led organizational structure.
Swarajs reported sulk at the primacy accorded to Modi at the Mumbai meet lacked grace. By now the former Socialist might be well aware that no one individual has single- handedly controlled the BJP. Even at the peak of his popularity, Vajpayee was not the sole arbiter of the Jana Sangh/ BJP. Collective leadership allows for a fair amount of internal democracy in the party.
Aside from all other organizational concerns, a major change that the BJP must embrace is to treat actions of the Congress- led UPA Government on merit. Opposition for the sake of opposition does not impress anyone. The party should test decisions of the Government on the anvil of pragmatism.
Whether it too would have taken the same decisions had it been in power should determine its response. Indeed, it would help if the BJP offered to cooperate with the Government on matters of national importance or in those areas where there is a commonality of views. The need for the principal Opposition party to offer constructive support to the Government assumes further significance in view of the retrograde deals the Congress- led UPA Government often feels obliged to do with venal regional- casteist groups.
The coalition era demands that the two principal par