Imagine a bank hold-up situation. The gang leader, flanked by sidekicks, points a gun at the manager. “Give me all you got,” he says, “or I’ll shoot.”
The bank manager simply smiles. The gang leader shoots. Click, click – he has blanks. The bank manager requests the gang leader to reload the gun. The leader reloads and fires. However, this time he points the gun at himself and shoots his face off. In pain, he asks his sidekicks for help. They are already cuddling up to the bank manager.
No, this is not a scene from a ridiculous comedy movie. It’s akin to what transpired in Parliament during the recent BJP-led purposefully titled ‘cut motion’. The only thing the BJP ended up cutting was its wrists. This is something it has done so often in the recent past; BJP jokes are no longer funny. Just as you don’t make fun of suffering people, you almost want to leave the BJP alone. They fire their most senior leaders over inconsequential passages in inconsequential books; almost every known leader is a prospective PM candidate; their leaders faint at their own rallies and their allies vote against them ‘by mistake’. Also, no one knows if they are now pro-Hindu or pro-Hindutva; communal or anti-communal or anti-Muslim. The only thing clear is they are anti-themselves.
Here are six areas for the BJP to scratch its heads over before it even thinks about the next cut motion.
Answer ‘who are we?’ — If a young person asks the BJP what the party represents, and how it is different (and better) than Congress, what is the answer? The response should be clear and precise but there is none at the moment. An internal discussion could help. Please also note that the young care about progress more than anything else, so saying archaic things like ‘we ban Jinnah books’ or ‘we uphold Hindu history’ will just not ‘cut’ it. Neither would a party founded on the basis of ‘hating other people’. Talk about the future, not the past. You are leaders, not history professors, and certainly not priests.
Drop the ego — Considering the BJP has access to the best Hindu gurus, it is amazing how the party’s leaders haven’t imbibed the ‘surrender-the-ego’ philosophy recommended by Hindu scripture. When a dozen of you are jostling to be PM, it doesn’t sound very Gita-like at all. The infighting is an open secret. However, the power clusters will have to come together. Remember the ek titli, anek titliyaan documentary? Be united; otherwise it’s a non-starter.
Find a deserving leader — Yes, despite working together as equals, someone has to be the leader. Conduct an internal, bottom-up evaluation of who deserves it most. The person should be evaluated on three factors – mass appeal, media respect, intrinsic experience and qualifications. Score all your leaders against these parameters, and you will have the answer.
Who’s your Rahul Gandhi? — Not only are Indian youths fans of Gandhi, even his opponents have hardly anything negative to say about him. He’s poised, hard-working and doesn’t flaunt his power. Who’s his counterpart? If you don’t have one, you won’t get there. It’s as simple as that.
Do the work — There are a few states where the BJP is still in government. Good work has been done in places but the pan-India development record is not extraordinary. As the rental car company Avis says: We are number two, we work harder. Blow people away with your extraordinary work; the votes will come.
Don’t depend on allies — Forming a government without coalitions is nearly impossible in India. Allies are best made when you’re stronger than the ally. Become strong before chasing allies. In fact, be strong; the allies will come.
The above steps can’t happen overnight. But any work done in this direction will be more satisfying and pay off in the long run. Meanwhile, the BJP should admire Congress and try to learn from it rather than cutting it at every opportunity.
And the next time you plan a bank robbery: learn how to use the gun, pre-load it and have better sidekicks. Better still, don’t rob the bank. Just work hard and earn it the old-fashioned way.