Tue, 25 Aug, 2009,04:34 PM
It’s said that bad periods, as opposed to good times, reveal the true character. By this reasoning, we have to conclude the BJP to be a party with an undying yen for hasty harakiri. In recent times, it has just not shot itself on the foot, but has peppered itself with bloody wounds from top to bottom.
From a toneless tragedy, it has descended to be a full-fledged farce with every one gunning for every other in the party. As of now, it seems comprised solely of squabbling satraps, mirthless minions and hollow helmsmen. The party, enfeebled by pointless polemics and useless utterances, is now a rudderless raft, slipping very badly in the face of conflicting elements.
The feckless show in the Lok Sabha is now a distant shame as more mud is slung and more heads are blackened. If the show of intransigence by Vasundhra Raje was bitter then the Jinnah jousting by Jaswant Singh was positively crippling to the party. Now, Arun Shourie, with his allusions to fairytale characters, has reduced the party honchos to cardboard caricatures.
Amidst these shameless shenanigans, the party leadership seems balefully inactive, something which is at the core of the problems dogging it for some time now. The BJP, it can be argued, floundered at the general elections because the leadership seemed unable to whip up the much-needed ardour and affection. Advani, at well over 80, seemed distant and strangely diffident.
The man, who manfully toured the length and breadth of the country in the 90s on his famous rath yatra, was seemingly replaced by a joyless, jejune curmudgeon. If the Advani of 90s vintage came across as a man possessed, with the zeal and zest of a wushu warrior, today he presents the picture of a scheming clergyman, more bothered about self-preservation. But when the post-election situation cried out for infusion of new blood and fresh faces, the BJP, already facing the accusation of being an old fogey, erred on the side of caution.
It chose Advani to head its Parliamentary party. Imagine Advani, at 86, leading the party’s campaign in the 2014 parliamentary elections, possibly against Rahul Gandhi (age 44) as the leader of the Congress. You can as well hand over the trophy to the Congress now itself. Why wait till 2014? The Jaswant Singh affair was also dealt with ham-handedly, giving room to the charge that a younger team at the helm could have handled the matter with more tact and finesse. Neither Jaswant nor his book deserved the kind of headlines that ensued. Two other critics of post-election moves in the party, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, were not invited to Shimla. These were moves that were maladroit and misconceived.
The BJP had a certain fascination for India’s educated middle class in the 1990s. It was considered a party that had thinking men at its helm, instead of the yeasayers in the Congress and other parties. Now, all the thinking men are either being expelled from the party or are deserting it at a rapid rate. Jaswant Singh has been expelled and Sudheendra Kulkarni, an associate of both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani, has quit the party.
Arun Shourie seems on the way out. Advani has compared the Shimla session to the Palanpur session of 1989, when the BJP decided to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya. No decision of even remotely comparable import seems to have been taken at Shimla. Advani has also said that the party has to reach out to its allies; the question is, with what agenda?
From whichever angle one sees it, the BJP is still consumed by internal tensions among party leaders, and not focused on the external challenge of a sharply reduced vote base. If anyone in the BJP thought that dissidence is about to end because of some loud words and lame expulsions, he is mistaken. Advani is simply not a credible candidate for Prime Minister in 2014. Any change for the better has to come form the top. That doesn’t look like happening in the BJP. At least for now, that is.
Source: News Today