It is boring to watch anything one-sided – from a wrestling bout to a cricket match. Indian politics is facing a similar situation. The BJP is turning out to be the weakest political opponent we have had in a long time. It is boring to be an observer in Indian politics. Also, it is terrible for the nation to not have a good alternative.
This is despite the Congress doing numerous self-goals in the past two years. Scam after scam, a borderline civil unrest, rampant inflation, a smug and silent leadership and a first family that is either complicit or does not know what is going on – even if the BJP planted insiders in the Congress, they could not have engineered so many debacles.
Still, the BJP could not work the tide in its favor. People are not warming up to it. This despite having earnest BJP spokespersons, who come on TV everyday and tell us the following: Sonia Gandhi is Italian (for the nine millionth time), all Congress decisions are made by madam and everyone in the Congress party has an account in Switzerland.
Yes, there is resentment against the government, but few think that the BJP will be any better. The recent government missteps could have been a lifetime’s opportunity for the BJP – to not only come back to power, but also stay there and expose all corrupt Congress leaders. But it has been a PR disaster, showing that while the BJP is extraordinarily high-pitched with anti-Congress rhetoric, it has no real answers, no convictions, no leadership and, scarily, no grip on the pulse of the people.
The biggest evidence of this came from the Yeddyurappa situation. Many had told them months ago to get rid of him. Well, they kept him there, giving convoluted logic ranging from ‘he is immoral, not corrupt’ to ‘we are less corrupt than the Congress’. If the BJP had preemptively removed him, it would have signaled a resolve to fight corruption. Today, they come across as losers.
The BJP’s failure is also sad because to a certain extent, it represents non-dynasty politics. If they can’t make it work, it means India still is not ready to be weaned off the Gandhi family, and we prefer our kings and princes to a real democracy. Something is clearly wrong. Here are some suggestions the BJP may want to consider as a matter of urgency.
One, stop criticizing the Congress. We are sick of hearing how terrible the Congress is. We know. Instead, talk about what you are offering instead. As a policy, the BJP should not denigrate the other party beyond a point. It is counterproductive. The next time someone tells me Sonia Gandhi is Italian, i am going to throw pizza at his face. Grow up, please.
Two, choose your PM candidate and tell us. Do not make statements like ‘we have many capable PM candidates’. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you do not. Some of your senior leaders neither have the poise nor the aspirational, globalized Indian personality that the youth are seeking in their leader. This generation is used to the current PM, who, for all his flaws, is educated and graceful. Some of the top BJP leaders scream too much. They are crass, regressive and lack modern thought to inspire a young person. They cannot and will not become the PM of this nation. Wake up, face the reality, bring out the other good BJP leaders to the front.
Three, if you claim to represent the Hindu cause, do it with grace. It is true that in the name of secularism, the Hindu voice is often subverted. However, it doesn’t mean we criticize other communities for the same. Some of the most revered Hindu shrines are poorly maintained. Temples at Mathura and Varanasi are filthy and full of touts. The young generation does not want to go there anymore. Why not clean them up? Why not show your love for Hinduism by doing something positive within the community, rather than find flaws in others.
Four, start an operation cleanup. There are a significant number of corrupt politicians in every party, including the BJP. Every year, remove the top-10% most corrupt leaders, and bring in new honest individuals. In ten years, you will have a different, fresh party.
Five, be the torchbearer of the new India- a society where truth, equality and justice have stature above power. Frankly, without these values, a democracy cannot work. We have to carve out new values for the Indian society. Concepts such as equality and justice are alien to most Indians. Who is going to uphold these values and lead us into the future?
If the BJP listens, and acts, they can come back strong. If they don’t, they risk losing something more than an election – they risk losing their relevance. As Yeddy packs up, I hope the BJP will reflect on what could save them from packing up. If they don’t, well, we always have the queen and the prince.