In a short time the BJP has almost eclipsed the Congress and some important regional parties. Its goal is to make India Congress free. The idea would have been totally unrealistic even a year ago, but looks achievable now. M J Akbar, senior analyst says this “is simply because the Prime Minister is delivering in good governance while Congress cannot escape the disease of bad politics”. India is witnessing the emergence of a new quality of governance. This involves the management of micro and macro with equally intense involvement and in a completely transparently manner.
He gives a few examples to prove his point.
To address the issue of stagnation among scientists and give them the motivation to set up space stations, Modi has asked that a few laboratories be reserved for scientists under 35, where they have the ultimate liberty for a brain in quest — the freedom to experiment, and to learn from mistakes.
A more telling example is the Defence Minister Arun Jaitley recently clearing purchases worth nearly Rs 80,000 crore without “a whiff of corruption about the decisions. There could not be, for there was none. Compare this with the history of defence deals. Delhi used to be a city swarming with fixers who arranged side benefits on defence purchases, and organised pay-offs abroad”.
This is a huge change from the politics of the UPA where there was near policy paralyses. And the blame for this goes to none other than Manmohan Singh guided by Soina Gandhi. The UPA and the Congress had to pay a heavy price for this and other ailments. In fact, the malaise in which the Congress is stuck today is exemplified by its politics is Tamil Nadu where it is a nonentity. The Congress head of Tamil Nadu, B.S. Gnanadesikan has resigned, The party is on a membership drive, and on the forms were pictures of two local Congress icons Kamaraj Nadar and G.K. Moopanar. The Congress headquarters ordered that the pictures should be replaced by those of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Akbar rightly says “we are familiar with the dynasty cult and the sycophancy that it demands, but this is bizarre beyond belief. The Gandhi family cannot bear competition from Kamaraj and Moopanar. This is proof of insecurity, an insult to Tamil sentiment and family imperialism of the worst kind”.
BJP striving to be an all India party
Compare this with the BJP’s membership campaign that Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated last Saturday (1 November). This is the first major attempt by the party after a long time to broad-base the organisation. The party leadership has realised that that despite its victory in the 16th Lok Sabha elections and the subsequent state elections, it still does not have an all India span. And that is largely because in the common man’s perception it’s a party of Hindutva and Hindi-speaking areas. According to the New Indian Express “this has to change if it has to emerge as the nation’s preeminent political party….In the past Modi might have espoused Hindutva and used a shrill language but after coming to power, he has been extremely sensitive while dealing with issues and people…. he does not want the BJP to be an exclusive party of Hindus”.
That is a correct assessment because in his speech inaugurating the BJP’s membership drive Modi suggested, “BJP should also come across as a diverse party. People from all strata of society should feel that we have a representative in this vase of flowers.” The geographical spread of the BJP, he felt, should be complemented by a vertical expansion to include all social and economic groups.
This boils down politically to attracting votes from segments other than the RSS oriented. Political commentator Swapan Dasgupta says Modi was able to attract an incremental vote in the 2014 elections. “The BJP’s 12% increase in the popular vote and the absolute majority it secured in the Lok Sabha was a consequence of the party out-performing the Congress among all communities (barring Muslims) and classes. The BJP achieved an above-average support from upper castes, backward castes and Scheduled Tribes. Although it out-polled the Congress among Dalits, the extent of support was below its national average. Going by the CSDS-Lokniti survey findings, there was also a positive correlation between levels of economic prosperity and support for the BJP. Finally, there was a direct link between age and support for the BJP: the younger the voter the greater the support for Modi.
The disaggregated data from the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana also suggests that the broad voting pattern of the Lok Sabha election persisted. Thus, Dasgupta says empirical evidence would certainly suggest that the perception of the BJP as a party of the rich, the Hindi speakers, the upper castes and the traders is now an invalid stereotype.