Veteran BJP leader LK Advani recently rued that the common people were equally disillusioned with the party as they are with the Congress. He was particularly displeased with the BJP's handling of the situation in Karnataka in the wake of the corruption allegations against former party leader B S Yeddyurappa. He made a veiled criticism against former party president Nitin Gadkari under whom the party dilly-dallied in dealing with BSY.
Advani had also questioned in the past that if the BJP claims it to be a party with a difference, then how could it compromise on the question of corruption? Some senior party leaders had revolted against Gadkari himself after the latter was accused of indulging in corrupt activities by Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. Gadkari, a man backed by the RSS, eventually withdrew from the race for the party chief's post and was replaced by Rajnath Singh.
The saffron party has witnessed internal divisions leading to a fragile top and unstable local leadership. Advani's latest observation that the principal opposition party has disappointed is right in many respect.
BJP only obsessed with Narendra Modi
The BJP has no core set of issues to capitalise on ahead of the many assembly elections scheduled this year and the next Lok Sabha polls due next year even as the ruling UPA continues to struggle on many fronts.
The BJP's agenda is only centred on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. It seems the party is only engrossed in settling the ‘Modi as PM candidate or not' debate both within and outside. If one takes away the Modi factor and the BJP has nothing else to show. This is a poor reflection of performance by a national party aspiring to regain power at the national level.
No matter how much the BJP mocks Rahul Gandhi's reluctance or Manmohan Singh's silence, it can not deny that its own top leadership hasn't functioned perfectly either. Sangh Parivar intricacies saw Gadkari's exit but yet the RSS managed to hold its importance through the appointment of Rajnath Singh as the president.
Party leadership is in a shambles
The fragility at the top level of the leadership has failed to rein in factionalism at the local level and that has been seen in states like Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and elsewhere.
The party has fared miserably in most of these states in recent times except those where personalised rule of leaders like Modi, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Raman Singh have delivered. If the Congress is accused of abiding by a family-centrism and sycophancy, the BJP can be charged with indiscipline and personality clashes. Neither of them, as a result, has succeeded to deliver as per people's aspiration.
The BJP is busy calculating the pros and cons of declaring Modi as its PM candidate. While the RSS and many NDA allies are dealing with the issue with a voice which is not definite, there are leaders in the BJP who are backing the ‘Modi as PM' campaign.
This uncertainty over the future leadership is harming the BJP to present an alternative to the tainted UPA government before the people. Just hoping that Modi will get them past all problems in the 2014 elections will be day-dreaming for the BJP. There has to be a comprehensive approach, in terms organisation and vision, if the NDA aspires to come back to power.
Modi is yet to emerge as a national player, the BJP's current national leadership not in a great shape
The party's disadvantage is that its trump card, Modi, isn't yet a national political figure, while those who are on the national stage at the moment are not being able to show anything remarkable to chart out a party strategy vis-à-vis the ruling coalition.
The BJP is just not missing the credentials of Atal Bihari Vajpayee today as the prime minister but even his stature as a national leader. The lack of such leader has left the BJP as a rudderless ship and its only strategy in the parliament has been to create ruckus and oppose the government on issues which it had backed during the days of the NDA rule.
Does the BJP have no different agenda to present to the people?
Why is the BJP so irked by the FDI proposal or why didn't it bring a shadow budget to oppose Chidambaram's budget this year? Does opposition only mean shouting and blocking? The reality is, the party doesn't really have anything dissimilar to offer than the Congress.
The only difference that it had in the past was the Hindutva issue but now that difference has been erased by changing times. Leadership and governance are the only issues that the BJP can capitalise to show that it is better than the Congress. But even then, there are issues to be settled till it confirms Modi as its future leader at the Centre.
Party may struggle to form coalitions after 2014 polls, leaders like Advani are more required in this regard
The party says it has a lot of PM candidates but the reality is that it hardly has any focus to strengthen its base. This lack of focus is bound to cost the party when the post-2014 election scenario will see efforts to bring more allies in the alliance. People like Advani will be more effective than Modi in accomplishing that task. The mission to make Modi the PM will succeed only if the NDA's coalition-management game achieves a resounding success. The plunge towards a governance system modeled on Modi's Gujarat comes thereafter.
At this moment, the arithmetic of the BJP has no steps. Advani knows it well for he has seen the party in both Vajpayee and post-Vajpayee period. Just banking on a Modi is not enough.