BJP Still Favourite To Return At Centre In 2019: This 7-Point Agenda Would Help 

BJP Still Favourite To Return At Centre In 2019: This 7-Point Agenda Would Help 

by Jay Bhattacharjee - Saturday, December 15, 2018 05:46 PM IST
BJP Still Favourite To Return At Centre In 2019: This 7-Point Agenda Would Help Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
  • The 2019 election is still the BJP’s to lose. Recent defeats shouldn’t make the party and its supporters believe otherwise.

The electoral jamboree in 5 states of the Republic ended a few days ago and has understandably generated the usual hoopla in political circles and the media. Although one understands the compulsions of the in-house pundits in the newspapers and TV channels to come out with instant homilies, it is also necessary for some of us to reflect carefully before issuing Homeric pronouncements.

In May 2014, this commentator, in the good company of a large number of confreres, was sufficiently enthused like some observers of milestone events like the French Revolution (or even the Russian Revolution) that had caused seismic regime changes. Admittedly, we didn’t go as far as Wordsworth’s poetic effort of “bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven’’.

However, on a prosaic level, we all felt that the stench of graft and criminality of the previous UPA lot and its predecessors was overwhelming and the new lot in Raisina Hill, led by the charismatic Narendra Modi and his lieutenants, seemed like a breath of fresh air.

Inevitably, such high expectations led to disappointments in a number of areas. Nevertheless, the replacement bunch did carry out some major course corrections that were long overdue. The score card was reasonably positive on the whole but the new team also shot themselves in the feet much too frequently. More on this later.

In the last four and a half years, the path of the “saffron” administration, as the ever-critical Western media and the home-grown media labelled it so glibly, was hardly strewn with roses. The residual legacy of the previous lot was so tainted that an enormous cleansing effort was necessary. This was where Modi and his colleagues hardly breasted the tape. Even the baby steps they took were resolutely thwarted by the opposition both in the form of political opponents and more importantly, in the form of institutional frameworks that the country had progressively developed since independence and even earlier.

As sociologists and historian have said for centuries, if any system is so venal and mothballed, partial or gradual change is never a solution. This does not mean that reform must be in the form of drastic jettisoning of every element in the old order. That happens only in the case of revolutions. Nevertheless, in democratic structures, it is possible to bring about radical reform if the successor regime is focused, determined, efficient and resilient. If the leadership of the successor regime is somehow compromised or insufficiently motivated to throw out the junk and the skeletons from the rotting cupboards, then the morass continues.

This is what happened to the new dispensation that took over in May 2014. Most of the systemic and structural changes they tried to initiate were attempted very hesitatingly and tentatively. In hindsight, it seems that the amateurish and ham-handed performance by the new administration was also because of the inbuilt forces that were opposed to any drastic change in the national governance system. These residual elements were remnants of the old order - classic examples of rear-guard forces that displaced regimes invariably leave behind, in order to sabotage the successors who have succeeded them.

A few months ago, this writer studied various aspects of regime change and how clearly-defined pressure groups / interest groups worked in tandem to oppose the new administration. These forces saw that their vital positions were under threat and they utilised all means, fair and foul (mostly the latter) to protect their bailiwicks.

It is useful to list out, once again, these forces that are resolutely united in their opposition to the Modi government:

-Sections of the bureaucracy at all levels, who feel threatened by the measures taken recently to introduce some semblance of accountability in the administration.

-Certain eminences in the judiciary.

-Crony capitalists ranging from the top business groups to the local kirana shop owners, all of whom thrived on tax evasion and looting the financial institutions.

-The managers of rural — often caste-based — vote banks, who do not want their roles as intermediaries to be diminished.

-Religious pressure groups, often financed from abroad, whose allegiances and loyalties are to institutions based outside India.

-Academicians and “intellectuals” who had long supped from the deep pool of resources supplied by the previous rulers, and who were being marginalised after May 2014.

-Small / regional political parties that have acted as power brokers in some parts of the country and have built up critical mass and a war-chest of funds.

Logically, in the next four to five months before the national elections, the BJP-NDA strategists should target these forces in their campaigns. The country’s citizens have a long list of grudges against the forces listed above and there is a ground-swell of resentment, that has developed over many decades, against these elements. This resentment needs to be used to the advantage of the Indic forces.

History has demonstrated time and time again that the forces of status quo who have run private fiefdoms for centuries and resorted to lies, half-truths and fabrications to buttress their power and privileges must be fought resolutely. It is folly of the highest order to adopt a wall-flower stance with these satraps. In my recent essay in this journal, this point has been highlighted strongly.

In fact, George Orwell’s epic dictum needs to be remembered in the Indian context: from 1947 onwards, the ruling Congress satraps had established such a complete control over the mindset of our country’s citizens that most of them were prepared to believe “that two and two made five”. In fact, it is quite obvious that the rag-tag opponents of the current government, ranging from Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to the Yadav clan and Mayawati’s group, have a feudal mindset that is as far removed from 20th and 21st century socio-political ideologies as can be possible. The think tanks of the Indic civilisation forces must continue to emphasise this and highlight it in the run-up to May 2019.

In the final segment of this essay, it must be emphasised that the BJP led alliance must highlight its “wish list” clearly and unambiguously in its campaign for the 2019 hustings. The following is a logical list of plans and programmes, not necessarily in any order of priority, that the Indic forces should project before the national electorate:

(1) Better governance, including bureaucratic and political accountability;

(2) Meaningful judicial accountability, particularly in the case of the Supreme Court and the High Courts;

(3) bringing in an iron-fisted approach to corporate offences, economic and business crimes;

(4) turbocharging the economy, with special emphasis on employment generation;

(5) looking after our Armed Forces, defence and national security, and making sure the babus do not downgrade and demean the nation’s sword-arm;

(6) Preserving, promoting and defending India’s civilisational and cultural heritage, leading eventually to a national renaissance, and

(7) combating the critical health and environmental degradation issues.

As a long-time follower of Ogden Nash, I feel he should have the last words that are clearly meant for the denizens of 10 Janpath and 24 Akbar Road as well as their accomplices elsewhere:

I’m an autocratic figure in these democratic states.
A dandy demonstration of hereditary traits.
My position at the apex of society I owe
To the qualities my parents, bequeathed me long ago.

While this poem summarises the Lutyens Zone cabal perfectly, the biting sarcasm is not at all applicable to Prime Minister Modi and his team. And, ideally, the latter should appropriately leverage the underlying sentiments of the great satirist with the Indian electorate in the next few months, so that they are given a renewed mandate.

Jay Bhattacharjee is a policy and corporate affairs analyst based in Delhi.
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