turn new leaf

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Dec 2018 11:02:28

EVEN though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lost elections in three States, it is not because of its bad performance in Government, but mainly because of its inability to counter effectively the vicious and mostly cantankerous propaganda of the Opposition. Despite that, the statistical details reveal that in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the BJP has done well in terms of percentage of overall vote share. In Madhya Pradesh, the ding-dong battle of the ballot went on during counting to the last minute. In Rajasthan, too, the BJP’s overall electoral performance needs to be appreciated, though it could not retain power. But then, that has been the style of Rajasthan’s electoral behaviour: The voters there seem to believe in alternating their rulers rather than just going for one party in election after election.

The only problematic State for the BJP was Chhattisgarh where the party faced an unprecedented rebuke from the voters despite its good performance in Government for fifteen long years. Perhaps, a detailed analysis may bring to fore some realities that may alter altogether the national perception about the causes of defeat in the Naxal-affected State. That setback apart, the BJP has every reason to turn a new leaf in its own book and start building itself up for the next challenge, the Lok Sabha elections coming summer.

A recent survey before the State poll results were out had said categorically that no matter the outcome, the BJP under Mr. Narendra Modi will be a clear winner in the Lok Sabha elections. Let alone what a survey may or may not say, it is obvious that on the larger canvas, the BJP stands the best chance to win the elections, thanks to its performance as both, the Government and a party. The next battle royale will be on the national ground where calculations are altogether different and where the BJP stands the best opportunity to redeem itself from the current electoral setback. If it handles itself well, it may come up with much better electoral showing than ever before.

However, there should be no doubt that the Opposition will leave no stone unturned during the Lok Sabha elections and would resort to a more vicious and more cantankerous and shrill propaganda. The BJP need not stoop low in its counter to the Opposition propaganda, but it will have to be far more aggressive than ever before to make its own case in people’s court. It need not sacrifice its avowed principles at all, but it need not be unnecessarily coy about what it stands for.

There may be attacks on the BJP calling it a communal force. The BJP may be needed to expose electoral communalism of the Opposition parties in a no-nonsense manner without fear of anything and favour for anything. The BJP might have made a few mistakes, as does any organisation. But it is time for the BJP to go hammer and tongs against the rival parties to expose their negative points, and also to highlight its own positive points. What is needed at this stage is not ruthlessness during the campaign from now on, but a better strategic and tactical sense that would outsmart Opposition’s Goebelsian propaganda.

Even when such an approach is taken, the BJP will do well to add certain sublime element of patriotism and loyalty to India’s tradition of accommodation of diverse components of national unity. The need also is there to highlight this sense of accommodation in a more forceful manner. In recent times, some sections of what is billed as Sangh Parivar (a term which the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh does not use these days) resorted to certain statements and actions that defied the principle of accommodation -- for no rhyme and reason. This practice will have to be abandoned immediately so as to win confidence and acceptance by all sections of the larger Indian society. It is in this area that the seeds of the BJP’s future success will be found.