Towards course correction

Towards course correction

The recent developments in the BJP may look like the party is in deep crisis and many analysts have already written it off. Even the Prime Minister expressed concern about the sorry state of affairs within the major opposition party. He is fully right and here, I differ with my party colleagues. A weak opposition party not only weakens the very foundation of democratic process but is also not good for the health of the ruling party.

But is the situation really that bad? It is important to examine whether there is an in-built mechanism in the party enabling it to not only come out of the crisis but also emerge stronger by taking correctives. If the answer is yes, then one should be happy instead of being disappointed.

In fact, the public got the so called first signal of BJP being on the verge of a split, which may be relishing news for our political opponents, when three senior leaders like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie came out demanding introspection on the party’s electoral defeat in the 2009 LS polls. If  their statements are seen in right perspective, doesn’t it reflect democratic character of the party? What is wrong if a partyman calls for corrective steps purely in the interest of the organisation? When the party comes out with correctives on the basis of ‘chintan bhaitak’ held recently at Shimla, one cannot forget the role played by these three leaders.

Jaswant episode

Then comes expulsion of Jaswant Singh. He was an important member of the Vajpayee government and a party to all sensitive decisions taken during the NDA regime. Within the party he was an important member of the core group. Yet, the party expelled him when he opined that Nehru and Patel were responsible for partition of the country as against the general belief that Jinnah was the villain. I stand for an individual’s freedom of expression as it is essential for the survival of democracy. 

But persons in public life have limitations. Political parties and leaders cannot go against general perception as this plays a crucial role in our attempt to reach out to a large section of society. If majority view turns in favour of Jinnah in future, that may be the time for political parties also to change their stand. Right now general perception is opposite of what Jaswant Singh tried to sell. For BJP, survival is more important than an individual leader.

RSS, BJP

A lot of debate has been going on with regard to the so called control of BJP by RSS. It is a fact that many of us within the party have come from RSS background. Naturally, our way of looking at national affairs gets influenced by the values inherited from RSS. It is as simple as one getting influenced by one’s parents, teachers or friends. When one is in need of guidance, he may look towards his close friends whom he trusts. Similarly, when the party is looking for guidance on certain crucial issues, it may look towards RSS. Instead of different leaders taking advice from different individual friends, we have the advantage of depending on a single source for guidance. But final decision is taken within the party. No other party has this advantage. Why then the ruckus over this arrangement? Is RSS an anti-national organisation or engaged in unlawful activities that you cannot interact with it? BJP interacting with such an organisation would also mean participation of a large section of the society in the decision-making process of the party. Opinion expressed by senior functionaries of RSS is not that of individuals or their advisers.

It is feedback from the grassroots to the top through consultation process.
Of late, an impression has gone out that the party has deviated from set values, discipline and conduct, causing cadres and sympathisers to become apprehensive about the future. Until 1988 we were an idealistic party committed to principles. Having tasted power for some time and losing it in 2004 and again in 2009, has certainly made many uncomfortable. I am sure in the coming days the party would come out with course correction. If that demands change in character and face, the party leadership will not hesitate to facilitate the same.

(The writer is a member of BJP National Executive Committee and head of Economic Cell.)

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