The debate over the election analysis and a medium-term strategy for the BJP's recovery has produced many interesting responses. I guess that debate needs to continue for we are nowhere near any broad conclusion.
In any case, who the party posits as its PM candidate in 2014 doesn't have to be settled. The Modi option, if it is viable, should be addressed around 2012. By then the Supreme Court threat would have been resolved.
There are, however, some immediate concerns. Going by what Manmohan Singh told the President, the UPA now has the support of 320 MPs in the Lok Sabha. This gives the government a comfortable working majority. More important, with both the SP and BSP declaring unditional support to the government, it means that the dominant Opposition space is now with the BJP and NDA. The Left is also there but it has become a marginal player.
How is the Opposition space going to be used?
It would have been best if the BJP had gone into the 15th Lok Sabha with a new leadership team. However, since, for whatever reasons, Advani has chosen to stay on as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the party has to persist with him.
It would have set a good precedent if the BJP had polled its Lok Sabha MPs (by structured consultation if not a secret ballot) as to who they wanted as Opposition Leader. The private confabulations produced bizarre suggestions including the one purportedly from the RSS man who is "responsible" for RSS-BJP ties. The confusion this generated made people fall back on Advani.
In any case, there are two qualifications that any LOP must have.
- He/she must be bilingual.
- Must have a grasp of parliamentary procedures
The person has to be effective and not merely wallow in a Cabinet minister's status.
My own choice for LOP is Sushma Swaraj, with Yashwant Sinha as the deputy leader. Sushma is good for political interventions and has the social skills of the ceremonial duties the post entails. Yashwant would be good for solid interventions on the economy and foreign policy.
Ananth Kumar is another MP who can perform a deputy's role but I think he should remain general secretary in the party.
In the Rajya Sabha, there is some talk of appointing Shanta Kumar as Leader of Opposition. This would be tantamount to mocking the electorate's desire to see a generational shift.
Frankly speaking, there is only one choice for the Rajya Sabha post. Arun Jaitley fits the bill in all respects. He can lead the policy charge against the UPA.
As they say in legalese, none of the appointments should prejudice the selection of the next BJP president in December this year.
The BJP is crying out for radical change. If the entire issue can't be settled immediately, let us at least move one step at a time.
But it has to be one step forward, not backward.