Modi & the BJP's future

My comments with respect to Offstumped’s piece on the subject of BJP’s chances in the 2014 General Elections and with specific regard to Modi’s “could-be” role in the run-up to it, has provoked a response from Tanmmay, a friend on Twitter.

I had made the following observations –

I think the point is very simple if we focused a bit.

Today, Hindus across all shades of opinion, who also believe CON has been a disaster, want an alternative to CON.

Non-CON alternatives are not plentiful as Yoss has shown. So, for the sake of this argument, let us assume that all such Hindus look towards the BJP to provide that alternative.

Within the BJP, the situation seems more complex. There seem to be the NDAites who long for the ABV “White Umbrella” days and on the other hand, there are those who long for the Hindutva BJP.

Both sides seem to implicitly agree that Modi is the only man who can take up the mantle of leading this party to better morale’ and thence to victory. This desire is more pronounced in the Hindutva BJP and less but grudgingly so, in the NDAite BJP. The latter, if they have another name on the horizon, have not spoken up, yet.

This problematizes the situation a wee bit for the NDAites. Modi has built up a Hindutva BJP reputation. We don’t know if Modi himself is a Hindutva BJP leader or an NDAite. However, the constant media/political hounding has shown one thing though and that is that it is the Hindutva BJP supporter who has stood by Modi through thick and through thin. The NDAite BJP supporter has been ambivalent and hedgy at best.

Today, if Modi were to voice his wish at a shot in the national arena, it can be safely asserted that unstinted support for him will come from only the Hindutva BJP.

To further bolster my argument, I would like to state that the NDAite BJP has not shown promise. Its record has been dismal. Its credibility very low. This is in sharp contrast to the Hindutva BJP which actually propelled the BJP to power.

Please note – Whatever be ABV’s charisma, he proved successful only because of Hindutva BJP. And ABV’s been around a long time.

This situation presents a strange problem for NDAite BJP supporters.

How does one fit this square peg in that round hole?

Meaning –

How does one utilize Modi’s obvious popularity to support an NDAite agenda?

The solution rests upon “re-inventing” Modi. That is, making Modi own NDAite BJP as his own, publicly. This will also mean Modi disowns Hindutva BJP, publicly.

This is just one part of the problem. The other part is that Modi has been inseparably linked with Hindutva BJP. The constant assaults upon him have left him with no option but to hold tight to his Hindutva BJP supporters. This has built its own relationship.

So how does the NDAite BJP supporter separate the leader from his die-hard followers?

1. Can they influence media/political rivals, to change tack and not assault him anymore? How will they do this and whom will the former attack if not Modi? And why will they agree to this scheme?

2. Can they influence Modi’s sanyasa? I doubt it. And who will take his place?

3. Can they team up with political enemies and “fix” Modi? I’m certain this has been tried. The problem with this again, is that it eliminates Modi instead of converting the advantage. There is no alternative to Modi’s stature within the BJP unless one wants to bet upon a Sushma Swaraj or a Jaitley. Risky. Very.

4. Can they influence Modi’s public disavowal of Hindutva BJP? Even if they could, this still won’t mean attacks on him will cease. See point 1.

So, all one can deduce until there is a better argument, is that NDAite BJP is frustrated beyond measure. It is also left with no real choice. It is holding fast to an agenda that is shaky and has no proven track record.

Is it then not better for the NDAite BJP supporter to smell the coffee and accept reality?

Think about it.

When Offstumped responded with –

Palahalli – flaw in your analysis is that you say you dont know if Modi is Hindutvaite or NDA-ite yet you assume he needs “reinvention” and the rest of the analysis from there on.

Nobody has called for Modi as an individual to reinvent. Such a makeover would be dishonest and cosmetic.

What has been called for is a reinvention of the movement, so we dont have to view the world from the prism of Hindutvaite or NDAite BJP.

His philosophy of governance and policy focus in Gujarat has already moved beyond that dichotomy.

He needs to now articulate a Big Idea based on that philosophy for the rest of India so that his existing and potential new supporters identify with that Big Idea rather than with the anachronistic world view of Hindutva versus NDAite.

He needs to do that articulation in a manner that helps bridge the wide trust deficit that exists currently between him and potential new supporters.

I said –

I think you misread what I had to say –

“flaw in your analysis is that you say you dont know if Modi is Hindutvaite or NDA-ite yet you assume he needs “reinvention” and the rest of the analysis from there on.”

– I don’t believe Modi needs reinvention. This is the fond hope of the NDAite BJP supporter. As for myself, I believe that media/political assaults have had a serious impact on two things.

1. Modi’s relationship with the Hindutva BJP supporters has strengthened.

2. This has allowed Modi to ponder about possibilities within this frame and also without. Thus far, his choices seem to be drawn from within it.

I am drawing my conclusions about Modi’s own choices from these facts without assuming anything of my own. I don’t know him personally.

Further on –

“Nobody has called for Modi as an individual to reinvent. Such a makeover would be dishonest and cosmetic.”

– Fair enough if we forget for a moment, the fact that assaults on Modi have been personal. Indeed, they have become personalized. Modi has been conflated with Gujarat and its electorate – not by Modi but by his assaulters.

So any re-invention involving Modi, must involve his personal makeover.

“What has been called for is a reinvention of the movement, so we dont have to view the world from the prism of Hindutvaite or NDAite BJP.”

– You are making a mistake here in assuming or isolating Hindutva BJP from any involvement in the supposedly and solely NDAite program of development and good governance. Modi has proved that both can mix well and in fact, are very effective.

Any effective “reinvention” should take this fact into account.

“His philosophy of governance and policy focus in Gujarat has already moved beyond that dichotomy.”

– Yes, and without forsaking the Hindutva paradigm.

“He needs to now articulate a Big Idea based on that philosophy for the rest of India so that his existing and potential new supporters identify with that Big Idea rather than with the anachronistic world view of Hindutva versus NDAite.”

– Like I said above, the conflict has arisen because of the NDAite BJP’s insistence that Hindutva means something apart from a focus on national development and therefore Modi should do away with it so that “development” oriented anti-Hindutva supporters can then support him.

This thought process is basically wrong. Hindusthan needs a decentralized developmental model. One can study Modi’s Gujarat focused agenda and replicate the core values therein. The “Big Idea” will in fact then be a conglomeration of many small ideas within the Hindutva value stream.

A Modi leadership can inspire just such a trend.

“He needs to do that articulation in a manner that helps bridge the wide trust deficit that exists currently between him and potential new supporters.”

– How does he do that without falsely admitting that his stance has been wrong all along? Or, to keep alive this discussion – how does he do it?

Tanmmay’s thought-provoking comment is posted as a follow on to the comments above –

The NDAite BJP would like to expand the vote base and the NDA to Orissa,AP while keeping it going in Bihar.On the other hand,the Hindutva BJP insists on a return to core issues.Both strands of thought have emerged out of the realisation that the probability of the BJP improving on its 2004 performance,in the absence of emotive issues,is quite low.There is a real possibility that in 2014 we will see a 1989 type situation rather than a BJP led NDA in power.The desire to build an anti-INC group & forge opposition unity is borne out of this.Modi’s ambition has added another dimension to this conflict because there are sections in both the NDAite BJP & Hindutva BJP opposed to him.It would be wrong to say that leaders & cadres in the Hindutva BJP support only Modi.This dichotomy is noticeable in Gujarat itself.

In addition to the above mentioned factors,the fear of being sidelined by Modi has also played a part in the drive by a group of leaders from both the NDAite BJP & Hindutva BJP to forge an anti-INC grouping or look for an alternative to Modi.There’s a lot of opposition to Modi in the Delhi BJP & sections of the Parivar.To a small extent,it is about self-preservation.A significant number of leaders in the BJP & the Parivar fear that after being in the party/Parivar for years,they would be cast aside by Modi.Its the fear of being thrown by the wayside after being used by Modi to come to power.And this fear is justified,if one considers the angst amongst Parivar leaders in Gujarat.

It is a fact that Modi & Parivar leaders in Gujarat have not been on good terms.This is in contrast to what one may call a harmonious relationship between the BJP units & the Sangh in Karnataka & Madhya Pradesh.The gulf has emerged due to Modi’s “Go Alone” approach after 2002.Once in a while,there are reports of friction between the VHP & Modi and most VHP leaders gripe about Modi being “ungrateful”.I’m sure very few have taken note of the lobbying that goes on in the BJP Central leadership to avoid the post of Gujarat-incharge.The assignment has no takers because they have no say in any decisions regarding elections or organisational matters in Gujarat BJP.When it comes to Gujarat,the Delhi leadership is presented with a fait accompli by Modi.Modi & his coterie brook no interference in state affairs but at the same time when the going gets tough they expect Delhi leaders to come to their aid,even if it may not be in the best interest of the party.

Mind you,I’m not forgetting the incredible pace of development in Gujarat & Modi’s immense contribution.But I’m talking about his rapport with other leaders in the BJP.The RSS has insisted,especially after LS09,on collective responsibility & decision-making based on consensus & deliberations.But,in Gujarat,Modi has quashed dissent in the State unit.His writ is unchallenged.What will prevent him from employing similar tactics if & when he comes to Delhi? What’s to prevent him from appointing cronies in various state units? How is Modi’s iron grip on the BJP state unit any different from the INC under Indira in the 70s & 80s?

Coming to another point that you made on Yoss’ blog: “Modi’s supporters rarely support the BJP as a non-Modi entity.”

There is no doubt that a significant number within the BJP support Modi.What is worrying is the obsessive idolization of Modi.It is almost a cult and it is indifferent to others in the BJP/Parivar or its goals and ethos.He is placed on a pedestal higher than the BJP and the Sangh.And make no mistake,Modi has encouraged this cultish support.It is as if this group of supporters is unconcerned about the future of the BJP but it wants Modi to be declared as the BJP candidate for Prime Ministership.Is it the case that they are more loyal/committed to Modi than to the BJP? Isn’t there something seriously disconcerting about that?

–Varta–

Palahalli – There are three major concerns that are raised by Tanmmay.

1. Modi is not a team player; at least as the Sangh Parivar perceives it.

2. Modi has enemies within and without the BJP.

3. Colleagues fear Modi’s Dictatorial(?) style and therefore will not countenance his growth to national leadership.

I will, for now, leave the issue of political partnership (NDA-style) and its possibilities with Modi at the helm, aside and concentrate on the three points.

From where I am, I see Modi as an articulate leader with immense drive, passion for innovation, amazing people connect and courage. Note the underlined words. Now try to match these with the Sangh Parivar. Primarily the RSS and VHP. Terms like “drive”, “innovation” and “courage” have long since escaped their embrace. There is a tremendous dearth of imagination in them that is frustrating Hindu nationalists no end. Both these organizations seem to have themselves forgotten their mission and promise to the Hindu nation.

So why should they complain when Modi raises his voice and tries to take charge?

What are they specifically against? If it is the personality of Modi – that’s no case. He is a winner. What else? That he hogs the limelight? I think his courage in the face of dark adversity provides him with his limelight. Petty jealousy or is it plain fear? An idealistic leader should be feared by those that have compromised themselves. So Modi has made enemies. These people, both within and without the BJP have taken and will take full advantage of any and every spoke in Modi’s wheel. Modi can do little but fight and survive these temporary onslaughts. That’s precisely what he’s doing right now.

Colleagues may fear Modi’s so-called dictatorial style but people love him. His enemies should blame themselves for Modi’s popularity.

It is not a leader’s power, vested in himself, that assures his popularity – but the manner he faces cussed adversity and survives. This latter trait is what cements his relationship with his people.

When Modi’s many enemies plan devious schemes against him and plot his downfall, they should remember to pray they succeed. For if they do not, Modi grows more each time they fail.

But what of the disgruntled in the BJP, the RSS and the VHP? Why can they not win against Modi without resorting to cheap trickery? What is their plan for Hindu National resurgence?

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  1. […] the original post: Modi & the BJP's future « Kone Nakshatra Tags:  a-response-from, and-with, bjp, general, general-elections, has-provoked, offstumped, […]

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