Is the BJP a party of cartoons now? No matter how much do they attack the Congress and create a ruckus in the parliament, there is no denying that the current lot in the saffron party, which had once claimed itself as a 'party with a difference', has failed on every count.
Personality clashes over Gadkari
Take for instance, the ongoing clash between Ram Jethmalani and some other senior party leaders and party president Nitin Gadkari. The anti-Gadkari camp has been targetted within the party for they have attacked the power centre. While Jethmalani has been suspended from the party, a poster campaign accusing Yashwant Sinha as 'backstabber' was carried out by anonymous activists at the party headquarters.
Sources said the campaign against Sinha could have been engineered by those close to Gadkari and Anshuman Mishra, whom the party chief wanted to send to the Rajya Sabha but was opposed by Sinha. Meanwhile, an unmoved Jethmalani slammed parliamentary leaders of the party, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, saying they did not discussed the Jan Lokpal bill with him. Jaitley refused to reply to Jethmalani's charges. The veteran lawyer-turned-politician also faced wrath for calling Rama bad husband and criticising the party's stand on the government's appointment of CBI director.
BJP has only gone back in last eight years
The BJP has looked a weakened force in the post-2004 period. The defeat in the general elections that year was a huge setback for the party that was 'flying high' under the moderate leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The former prime minister's exit from active politics soon after the 2004 debacle and the shocking death of Pramod Mahajan in 2006 had given deadly blows to the party's leadership concerns.
The other stalwart of the party, Lal Krishna Advani, who had taken over the mantle of leadership from the ailing Vajpayee, faced rebellion from within the party and also drew flak for praising Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He had differences with the RSS and although succeeded to project himself as a prime ministerial candidate in 2009, the BJP's house was already in a disarray by then. The party lost in Delhi and Rajasthan assembly elections in 2008 and neither could mobilise much support in the aftermath of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai to corner the UPA government.
The Manmohan-Sonia duo led a comparatively better-placed Congress that looked more effective because of its secular image, thrust on economic development and co-opting strategies. The Congress reasserted the BJP's credibility, as it was during the Vajpayee days while the latter failed to groom a leadership on similar lines. Advani was never a Vajpayee II and he completely failed to rein in factionalism and corruption charges in the party that were slowly eating into its bases.
In 2009, the BJP tried to revive the Ayodhya issue ahead of the polls but the plan was a 20-year-old one. The party was drubbed for the second consecutive time and that defeat virtually was a decisive blow.
The situation has become so appalling for the BJP in the last five years that its geographic spread has also been seriously harmed. In 2008 for instance, the party had formed its first government in Karnataka, also its first in southern India but lack of a solid central leadership has allowed the over-ambitious leaders from that state to dig up the party's grave. The situation is no better in Jharkhand.
Gujarat is perhaps the only state (may be Madhya Pradesh a distant second) where the BJP has really ruled from a position of strength but the credibility does not lie with the BJP but the personality cult of Narendra Modi. Whether the Hindutva sentiments have gained strength or not is another sociological issue to analyse, but as far as electoral and party politics is concerned, there is no denying the fact that the BJP lacks a central authority like Vajpayee around which the party organisation and leaders will revolve.
BJP a fight club for RSS and non-RSS members?
The party has become a platform where the RSS and non-RSS members are wrestling daily for an upper hand. The party is busy inflicting damage on itself by targetting veteran leaders for they have had served as its ears and eyes all these days. The BJP leadership, by means of suspending Jethmalani, showed how unworthy it is to sit at the top while those defending it showed moral righteousness is the last preference in politics. The BJP actually shot in its own foot and made the road clear for the Congress and other ambitious political forces like Aam Admi Party.
Having said that, this is perhaps the rule in every cadre-based parties. The CPI(M) had expelled one of its veteran leaders, Somnath Chatterjee, for expressing his displeasure with the party's line. The BJP, too, had expelled another senior leader Jaswant Singh in 2009 for praising the same Jinnah in a book. Such is the power of the organisation to prevail over individuals in such parties. Modi is perhaps the only exception.
Jethmalani, however, will not be the last pin to fall. If this is the strategy the cornered leadership in the BJP has agreed to execute to quell all rebellion, the party may not survive as a single entity in near future.
BJP's fall is not good for Indian politics
The BJP's fall from grace is not a good sign for Indian politics. Not only because it has marked the downfall of a national party but also because the absence of a moderating force could allow the extremist forces to regain prominence in the electoral politics of the Sangh Parivar and try to fuel disruption that will only harm the nation's interests. The fight at the top will also prevent the emergence of new leadership from the bottom.
BJP doesn't have an Indira Gandhi
The Congress's advantage is that it has a perennial central authority, which despite being the target of all attack, is still the strength of the party. The Congress, from a party of the masses, had become the party of the Gandhis and it is precisely this reason that has kept it alive (the other branches are invisible nowadays).
The BJP is, too, going the Congress's way (Congressification) but it has no benevolent dictator like Indira Gandhi to give it an identity to survive. Some say the tainted Gadkari is the Sitaram Kesari of the BJP but who has the courage to repeat what Congress had done to Kesari? Nor, it has any democratic standards within. Two heavyweight leaders have already dumped it in Gujarat and Karnataka and that could impact its prospects, even if to a less extent in Gujarat because of Modi. I wonder how the BJP's parliamentary leaders aspire to return to power when they can not really handle dissent in the party. Where does the BJP go from here?