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Congress party crumbles, but BJP will need a leader to gain advantage

GVL Narasimha Rao, LensOnNews
Untitled Document
March 10, 2012

The latest round of assembly polls has decimated the Congress party throughout the country except in Manipur. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has gained Goa and managed to register a good performance in Uttarakhand and Punjab, but failed to improve its fortunes in Uttar Pradesh. The party’s dismal performance in Uttar Pradesh which sends 80 MPs to Parliament calls for serious introspection and for timely corrections to its wobbly national strategy.

Lack of leadership in UP
The fundamental reason for the below-par performance of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh is lack of clarity as to who would lead the party in the event it came to power. At a time when people are making voting choices increasingly on the basis of a promise of good governance, they are not willing to trust political parties as much as they trust leaders with proven credentials. The concept of “collective leadership” does not seem appealing to the voters.

Projecting chief ministerial candidates in elections is important for electoral success. This is borne out by the fact that the BJP and allies did exceedingly well in states - Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa - where they projected a chief ministerial candidate. In Uttar Pradesh where the BJP relied on the concept of “collective leadership,” it failed to improve its performance.

Projecting a prime ministerial candidate
The humbling experience in Uttar Pradesh has some portents for the party’s bid for power at the Centre in the next parliamentary polls. So far, the party has maintained that it has five or six prime ministerial candidates and has even been contemplating going to polls with the idea of a “collective leadership” as it did in Uttar Pradesh. Going by the UP experience, it will simply not work.

The BJP will have to pick its best leader with a mass appeal, proven track record in governance and back him up fully to achieve the best possible results. The BJP needs to move in quickly to anoint its leader as the leader needs time to prepare for a national campaign. The leadership decision acquires urgency as a motley coalition of regional parties that may loosely be called a “Third Front” comprising Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party and even Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) has already begun working towards propping up a Regional Front-led government at the Centre after the next parliamentary polls.

Yearning for Gujarat-like governance
Nationwide, people are sick of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s inept governance at the Centre. Youth in particular and all voters in general are yearning for Gujarat-like high quality governance. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a role model for the youth with his no-nonsense leadership and unmatched record in governance. Even his Congress rivals and critics acknowledge his unparalleled governance successes in Gujarat on several fronts: agriculture, industry, infrastructure and utilities like power and water supply.

Unsurprisingly, however, some anti-BJP analysts in the English media tirelessly run down Narendra Modi’s leadership by referring to him as a polarizing figure and claim that his candidature for PM would work against the BJP outside Gujarat. While some of them are being disingenuous, others are politically motivated. If Narendra Modi lacked nationwide appeal, why would he be rated as the most favoured prime minister? (India Today poll http://bit.ly/Awxijl)

The truth is that Modi’s critics are overawed by his ever-rising stature and his potential success at the national level. In private, they confide that Narendra Modi alone has the potential to bring the BJP to power at the Centre. One such bitter media critic of Narendra Modi tells me that the BJP’s individual tally will surpass 200 seats in parliamentary elections if he is projected as the party’s prime ministerial candidate. Do a straw poll among Modi’s media critics and you would get the same assessment.

‘Muslim non-factor’
Most critics of Narendra Modi advance the specious argument that projecting him as the party’s prime ministerial candidate might turn away the Muslim vote from the BJP and the NDA. But this is flawed thinking, based on a mistaken belief (or a propagated idea) that strategic voting by Muslims was mainly responsible for the defeat of the BJP in the Parliamentary elections of 2004 and 2009. There is no basis for this assessment.

The reality is that the Muslims have never voted for the BJP in any election ever and the success of the BJP in the 1996, 1998 and 1999 parliamentary elections was achieved despite vehement opposition from the Muslims from all over the country. The non-existent Muslim factor is an over-simplification of the party’s defeats in 2004 and 2009 polls.

As the Congress party’s fortunes begin to crumble, the BJP has to move in fast and present an effective leadership to capitalize on the strong public sentiment against the present dispensation. As mid-term elections appear on the horizon, the BJP must move quickly to unite behind a single leader to take on the Congress in the forthcoming polls. Any delay in fine-tuning the national election strategy by the BJP may veer the next election irreversibly towards a ‘Third Front’.

 

 
GVL Narasimha Rao is a noted Psephologist and political analyst. He can be contacted at
E-mail : nrao@lensonnews.com
 
Reprinting or republication of this story on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence, including the hyperlink to LensOnNews, at the beginning or end of the story: "Congress party crumbles, but BJP will need a leader to gain advantage" is republished with permission of LensOnNews

Showing 7 comments on this article
BAPTY.S says:
March 10, 2012
Well analysed article. THE LEADERSHIP IN NATIONAL ELECTIONS MUST CERTAINLY BE TAKEN BY BJP.THIS CAN BE DONE BY CLEARLY BACKING ONE LEADER FOR P.M. THAT ONE CAN BE NONE OTHER THAN SHRI NARENDRA MODIJI.AS FAR AS ALL INDIA VOTERS ARE CONCERNED HE IS THE ONLY ACCEPATABLE CLEAN P.M CANDIDATE WITH PROVEN PERFORMANCE. MUSLIMS OR ANYONE ELSE WILL ALL ACCEPT HIM.BJP AS A PARTY CANT BE IGNORED BY 3RD FRONT LEADERS.BJP MUST TAKE THE INITIATIVE TO PROJECT MODIJI ALONE AS ITS P.M CANDIDATE.
R. Viswam says:
March 10, 2012
No,Modi would be well-advised not to enter the Delhi cesspool. He just attracts too many detractors (many of them in BJP itself)who from day one work to make him fail.Stay on in Gujerat,Mr Modi, and become a yet another God. You would be worshipped, and thought of elsewhere asthe best leader India was destined not to have. would themselves
budh pal singh chandel says:
March 10, 2012
om,B.J.P not scanty in leadership ,there r many bt.not having joint responsibilities otherwise showing indivisually ,which is hazardous,secondly they tken Kushwaha which was wrongly&cunningly only declared corrupt by B.S.P ,these was reasons for unfortunate defeat,nothing else,now onwords they must delare one leader &try to avoid corrupts providing tickets during ensuing elections ,then no body can stop in winning the elections.EVery thing is in favour at present & will be in future to come.Others will surprize to see the results during ensuing elections.BE UNITED& KEEP ASIDE ALL CORRUPTERS,BE A PURE/HONEST/PEOPLE LOVING LEADERS. vandematram./JAI HIND.
BharatK says:
March 10, 2012
Shri Rao: Are you day-dreaming? BJP Delhi elites need no leaders; they are big leaders for themselves. These elite brigades want others support BJP and they enjoy power sitting in Delhi. They successfully demolish other leaders to come up, be it Uma Bharati, Kalyan Singh, Jaswant Singh, Yeedy or now trying hard on N Modi. These elite brigades have nothing to lose, power or no-power. They occupy the opposition leader’s positions, which are equal position as cabinet minister with no responsibilities. Muslim-boggy is a tactic by these elites to keep Modi away. This is the reason; BJP supporters do not take BJP seriously, and do not go to vote. BJP is worse than Congress, in terms of treating own people. Without any real basis and examination, they removed Yeddy from CM chair (same did with Uma Bharati), and now HC dumped the FIR aganist him. I doubt BJP is goiung to re-instate him. Yeddy will be another Uma Bharati. It is time, regional BJP leaders must get together in decision making and if needed sideline elite Delhi briagde. This is the only way Modi, Yeddy, Uma Bharati etc can survive and make BJP a real democratic party.
Shruti says:
March 11, 2012
The only scenario that I can see is BJP and NaMo are only waiting for the Guj elections to be over. They need Modi to remain in Guj till then. Once the Guj elections are over, they might elect Modi as the next President of BJP and probably that is one reason that Gadkari's term has been extended for some more time. Once NaMo takes over as President of BJP, he should tour around the country and start holding dialogues with minority organizations and other regional parties to dispel all misgivings and mistrust and work to extend the party's base.
Suresh Nakhua says:
March 11, 2012
well analysed and nicely written article very correctly said #MITOA - MODI is the Only Alternative
Lokesh says:
March 12, 2012
Narendra modi will be the PM of india by 2014. GVL Rao has judgment is absolutely correct.........

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