Can you feel it? The mini-General Election of 2017 approaches. The ships of opponents are not sinking yet, but they are wobbling ominously. An icy cold breeze sends a chill through their crews huddled on their decks. But in the distance, the sea seems calm and the mighty Modi ship is parked calmly upon the waves. More than a few of them decide to make a splash for it.
They just keep coming. From the BSP. From the SP. From the Congress. It’s so common that it’s unremarkable. You read about it in the news every single day, let play a wry smile and then you forget the very next instant, maybe after a little chuckle. That’s it. But then this happens:
That’s when you cannot but worry about what baggage the asylum seekers bring with them. Now, I am much more of a realist than a purist. I see the value in blowing a hole through the enemy’s boat and in the famed “saam daam dand bhed”. A better metaphor I could not have conceived:
But you have to worry, nevertheless. You have to worry about the idea and constantly evaluate where we stand with regards to the ideal. For the idea of “Congress mukt Bharat”, unlike the “idea of India”, is not the private property of one individual or group of privileged individuals. The idea of “Congress mukt Bharat” is that of giving a pathway for the expression of the inherent greatness our of our nation. And we cannot achieve a Congress mukt Bharat with a “Congress yukt BJP” at the helm. Modi and Shah are transient, the greatness of the nation is eternal.
So, what is the way out? How do you reconcile the ideal with the practical? As the Congress implodes, there will be many many more asylum seekers who pose ethical dilemmas. You cannot say no to them. That would be silly. If you want to win, why would you lose golden opportunities to demoralize your enemy? At the same time, you don’t want a “Congress yukt BJP”, do you?
The answer is actually quite simple. The answer is to have procedures in place. Have clear unequivocal protocol that each new entrant must follow and it will all be fine. For instance, each such newcomer should be barred from a party post or a party ticket for 3 years. If that’s too much, especially considering that these things happen just before elections, ask the newcomers to get approval of the party cadre to be cleared for party posts and party tickets. The best practice would be a formal primary system. Anyone can join and then earn a party ticket by getting the party cadre to approve of you.
Does this seem too far fetched? Does it seem like “they” would never agree to this? Well, let me remind you that the BJP already has a bunch of protocols in place and they seem to be working just fine. For instance, the BJP has a clear “one person one post” policy. And it works so smoothly that people barely notice. Fadnavis was president of Maharashtra BJP. Fadnavis becomes Maharashtra CM. The lobbying for new Maharashtra BJP President starts immediately. Not for even one second does Fadnavis even consider the possibility of holding on to his party post. Because he knows he has no chance. The protocol is too well established. The man who gets the job of Maharashtra BJP President is Raosaheb Danve. In turn, Raosaheb Danve immediately resigns as a central minister. One person, one post. No arguments. No exceptions.
This is actually remarkable in the Indian context. In most parties, we have party president, CM/PM/CM candidate/PM candidate all rolled into one person. At best, they could be close relatives. But BJP practises one person, one post. It sets the party apart from everyone else and the BJP does it so smoothly that people barely notice. No BJP leader even tries to break the convention. Even after 282, Narendra Modi did not have a chance in hell of getting the post of BJP President. Everyone knew that. That is the advantage of a well established protocol.
Now, Modi himself has brought in yet another possible protocol: the 75 years cut off (although I think Bhagwat began this process earlier inside RSS). For sure, he did it to get rid of inconvenient people within the BJP, but even he cannot control the process once it has been set in motion. Whether Modi likes it or not, the 75 cut off has now become a talking point and will become a protocol. And yes, he will have to answer uncomfortable questions on this during the 2024 election, when he will be 74 years old himself.
So, do not for a moment think that it is “impossible” to have a solid protocol for newcomers to the BJP. If BJP politicians can learn to live with a maximum of one post at a time and give up all power at age of 75, they can learn to live with primaries too.
So, who will bring this next change and implement a protocol for newcomers in BJP? Will it be Modi and Shah? Very unlikely. And that doesn’t matter. Did the BJP’s top leadership want to see Narendra Modi at the helm in 2012, or even in late 2013? No! So what? It was the power of the BJP’s foot soldiers that catapulted Modi to the top. And now that the process has been set in motion, it is beyond the control of Modi himself. BJP’s foot soldiers have tasted power and victory. BJP’s foot soldiers won’t hesitate to defy the leadership when they want changes in the party. It’s time they did that again. In fact, it is a process that should be continuous, never ending and forever cleansing.