On meeting future challenges, Modi, Advani on same page

On meeting future challenges, Modi, Advani on same page

Senior BJP leader L K Advani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi drifted away in the wake of the latter being declared the prime minister candidate and successfully leading the party to the Lok Sabha elections.

 As Modi consolidated his hold over the BJP and delivered one of the best parliamentary election results for the party, Advani was seen as the one who had lost the race and failed to read the mood of his party men and the people.

But after the installation of the BJP government, the thoughts and concerns of Modi and Advani appear to be more or less similar when it comes the party’s future –though their prescription may appear to differ slightly. Both the leaders realise that managing the expectations of the people, which led to the impressive mandate, is a big challenge.

A recent workshop organised by BJP for its first time MPs provided a glimpse of their thinking as they interacted with party functionaries, voicing their priorities. Their bottom line that came clear is that the BJP cannot rest on its laurels. As the new government talks of taking ‘tough’ decisions to put the economy back on rails as indicated by Modi, the party has to galvanise itself to keep the connect between the people and the government. 

Advani’s advice is that, instead of repeatedly highlighting the failures of the UPA regime, they should vociferously defend and explain to the people the merits of the strong measures that the PM is taking to revive governance and the economy. On the other hand, Modi wants the party MPs to highlight ‘the fact’ that the policies nurtured by Congress in the last few decades have not been able to mitigate the suffering of the people and solve their problems. The NDA’s burden is that it inherited a mess from the Congress even as the latter has lost no time in putting all the blame on Modi who has been in office for just over a month.

Besides, Modi wants every BJP MP and minister to serve to his or her fullest capacity in respective constituency and ministry, serving as a bridge between the people, the party and the government. He is keen that the BJP does not suffer any electoral reverse in any of the Assembly elections that will be due in the next few months. A not-too impressive performance in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand could spell a count-down, he feels.

At the same time, Modi is apprehensive about the behaviour, conduct and image of the MPs and ministers, which can cast shadow on his government. After a series of fiat to ministers, Modi has spelt out a list of dos and don’ts for the party’s over 150 first-time MPs,  warning them against any form of corruption or nepotism. He spoke of the need to “focus on three things --achar (conduct), vichar (thinking) and vyavahar (behaviour).”

‘Talk about visions, policies’ Advani, who speaks from decades of his experience in public life and many years in government, backs Modi in his endeavour. Yet, he feels there is no need to talk much about the Congress party’s or UPA government’s failures. He argues that people are convinced about it; which is why they have given an absolute majority to the BJP in the recent elections.

“Rather, all of us should talk about our government’s vision, its policies, plans, decisions, etc. As the prime minister has said, the government will be required to take certain hard decisions, especially on the economic front. We should explain to the people why such decisions are necessary and why they will help the nation and the common people in the long run,” Advani said at the workshop.

Advani does not mince words in saying that the face and the voice of the government is not only the prime minister and members of his council of ministers. “Each one of us represents the government, because we are now MPs of the ruling party. We should scrupulously stay away from any kind of misconduct or controversy. The more we succeed in this, the greater is the strength we impart to the prime minister and his government.”

As Modi talked about the BJP’s transition from an opposition party into the ruling party, he is happy that Advani says the party leaders have a major responsibility in implementing the PM’s important call to make development a people’s movement. “The problems and challenges in India’s development are so enormous that we simply cannot address them in the traditional way,” said Advani.

Towards this end, Advani wants ministers and MPs to  take the lead in involving people’s organisations in the implementation of government’s schemes, programmes and policies. He has mooted a proposal that the party president, and a small group of ministers and party functionaries, working under the guidance of the prime minister, should prepare the guidelines to implement Modi’s plan.

BJP insiders believe that both Modi and Advani know well how public goodwill gained after the elections can soon be lost if the government fails to communicate its policies and programmes. But the worry among some BJP leaders is the  government must not allow the perception to gain ground that it had promised far more than it has the ability to deliver. This is notwithstanding the fact that people may be willing to give Modi a reasonable amount of time for perceptible changes but the BJP cannot lose sight of priorities.

Lastly, there is a view that the government must not expend precious energy in issues like seeking the resignation of governors, interfering in the affairs of appointments made by ministers, autonomous bodies like Delhi University, and making the PMO into the all-powerful body --at the cost of real initiatives by different ministries. The path to hell, as they say, could be paved with ‘good intentions.’

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