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Sunday, November 28, 2010

BJP must strive for inclusive NDA

By Swapan Dasgupta

In the five-year prime ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, the Haryana Assembly election of 1987 was a turning point. The spectacular victory of the Lok Dal led by Devi Lal came as a loud wake-up call to a Congress that had been basking in the glory of the Prime Minister's Lok Sabha sweep of 1984. The Haryana result came at a time the Congress was beginning to feel the pressure on corruption, notably the Bofors deal, but still felt supremely confident about Rajiv's ability to tide over the problem. After the Congress debacle in this small state, there was a discernible mood change. A divided and disoriented Opposition began to get its act together and within a year a combination of regional leaders forged the National Front that, additionally, also kept up a relationship with both the Left and the BJP. In 1989, the Congress was defeated by this loose combine.

History doesn't always repeat itself. Yet the multiplier effect of the 1987 Haryana verdict should serve as a warning to those inclined to view last week's Bihar results as a purely local event. The decimation of Lalu Yadav was perhaps occasioned by the collapse of his caste alliance and the people's dread of a return to 'jungle raj'—all local factors. However, the ignominious showing of the Congress can't be attributed solely to the absence of a credible Bihari face. Read with the results of local elections and by-elections in different states in the past six months, it suggests that the post-May 2009 belief in the re-emergence of Congress dominance was misplaced. Apart from Kerala where the UDF is on the comeback trail and Punjab where the Akali-BJP alliance is making a hash of governance, the Congress seems beleaguered even in the few states it is governing. So far it has pretended that the mid-term setbacks are inconsequential and will be offset by Rahul Gandhi's charisma. After the scale of the Bihar debacle, this self-confidence needs to be revisited.

In Bihar, Congress suffered a progressive loss of momentum between the first and sixth phase of polling. That this loss of political stamina coincided with the growing hullabaloo over corruption is significant. Despite Sonia Gandhi's spirited claim that she never fails to take action against errant leaders in its own ranks, there is a perception that the Congress and some UPA constituents are out to make hay while the sun shines. True, the BJP has its own share of misdemeanours in Karnataka. But these have been dwarfed by the sheer scale of the alleged corruption in the Commonwealth Games and the sale of 2G spectrum. As a rule, corruption at the Centre overrides state-level misdeeds.

If the Congress hasn't suffered a greater loss of public confidence, it is due to a feeling that there is no government-in-waiting: the NDA remains a non-player in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and a bit player in Uttar Pradesh. In 1987, Devi Lal's victory triggered frenetic activity in the Opposition and culminated in the emergence of V.P. Singh as the symbol of an anti-Congress upsurge. Can Nitish Kumar's re-election have the same effect?

The answer depends on how the NDA as a whole imbibes the lessons of its victory. It is not enough for the BJP to gloat over the fact that its better strike rate has silenced those who felt it was a drag on Nitish, just as it was on Naveen Patnaik in Orissa between 1999 and 2009. The BJP needs to appreciate the seminal contribution of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi to making the alliance coherent. Equally, there has to be an acknowledgement that those pressing for an 'assertive' BJP, including going it alone, were guilty of an adventurism that would have been punished by the voters. In Orissa, the BJP couldn't control the recklessness of its state leaders and forced an exasperated Patnaik to walk out of the NDA. This mistake wasn't repeated in Bihar and the dividends are there for the party to enjoy.

Secondly, a section of the BJP needs to realise that just as caste can be relegated to the background by a robust development agenda—recall how Narendra Modi tackled the so-called Patel revolt in 2007—it isn't obligatory to fall back on aggressive Hinduness to secure a wide measure of Hindu support. The restrained response to the Ayodhya judgment last September can serve as a future template.

Finally, by overplaying its dynastic and 'high command' culture, the Congress has willy-nilly conceded the space for regional pride to the other side. Modi has used this aggressively in Gujarat and Nitish less flamboyantly, but no less effectively, in Bihar. With decision-making resting more and more on the states, the NDA needs to base itself on clear federal principles. Even if it is bound by a national party, it could profit by transforming itself into a coalition of state parties. Ironically, B.S. Yedyurappa's subdued defiance of 'national' pressure has actually showcased the federal structure of the BJP. So paradoxically did the Bihar unit's decision to utilise the services of just one Modi for this election.

To be viable, the NDA cannot be a clone of the Congress-led UPA. Its distinctive dynamics must serve as the basis for its expansion into unchartered and lost territories. There is little need to be preoccupied over leadership. The PM-in-waiting will invariably reflect the temperament of the alliance.

Sunday Pioneer, November 28, 2010


Balaji said...

yes, inclusive NDA could be an answer for Congress Socialism, Corruption and Nepotism.

inclusive NDA means BJP distancing itself from the likes of Narendra Modi and RSS. ofcourse with the Congress likely to go after Modi on Gujarat Riots and RSS on Terrorism related cases, using the CBI, they may well be opting out of the limelight in 2014.

In anycase, when Nitish Kumar doesn't even want Narendra Modi to campaign in Bihar, its hard to see how Naveen Patnaik, Chandrababu Naidu, Jayalalitha or even Mulayam Singh and Sharad Pawar can join the NDA with Narendra Modi anywhere in Delhi.

an NDA govt with BJP contributing less than 100 seats and Sushma Swaraj as Prime Minister looks like a good alternative.

Raj Vikram said...

Indeed Sir,what u said is absolutely correct.Let it be the beginning of resurgence of NDA across India and let this not be a flash in the pan.Overrated charisma of Rahul Gandhi did not help the Congress even a wee bit.Those who are dreaming of Rahul s ascension to the throne of Prime Minister received a severe setback with the annihilation in Bihar.BJP should do some soul searching.Hardline stance adopted by a section of its leadership can hamper its aspirations to be a real pan Indian party.Its miniscule presence in Kerala,TN,Andhra doesnt augur well for the party s future.Alliance building is the key.More than ideological grandstanding a bit of political acumen will do a world of good to the principal opposition party!!!!!

No Mist said...

a new mischeif by the loyalists ... as soon as it became clear that NDA has pwned congis and lalloos, their tooting horns in the media started this new rant of 'alternate leadership' of NDA ... are they nuts ?? NDA exists because of BJP ... without BJP it will become Janata Dal (or National Front) of 1989, which is exactly what it is is without BJP.

the need of the hour is for NaMo to come forward and take the mantle. it is now or never ... there is so much stink in the system that even a pig pen will smell like haven. no yeddy, nitish, etc will do now ... there is only one name in indian politics who can be trusted with the PMs job -- NaMo !!

sardarji MMS has proven to be really the weakest PM of India ... nobody (including me) believed Advani when he said this ... now we regret ... MMS has been a curse on India ... such a pathetic weakling ... and his pathetic ministry ... filled with crooks of all hue ... and MMS's only job is to keep the seat warm for the kaala-akshar-bahins-barabar prince.

The good thing is that gadkari has proven to be very wiley politician ... since he has taken BJPs presidentship, he has been meticulously turning around BJPs fortunes ... i have become a big fan of gadkari ... i am sure he understands the need to call NaMo and he will do so at the right time.

Anonymous said...

Nitish Kumar for prime minister. Nitish is the key to an electoral comeback for the NDA. Alternatively, we can hand victory to UPA on a plate by fielding Narendra Modi (this will destroy the NDA probably for good) or even Sushma Swaraj. We cannot afford a last minute Nitish walkout like Naveen Patnaik, though this is now a very real possibility. It will then take us another decade before we can come back as an electoral force.


JayKumar said...

Every one are ready to accept Modi as PM except by Media house , few journalist and congress supporters. Now we can't have Sushma as PM candidates as she can't even win election in her own state as this will be biggest black spot on her.

Nitish is not a name familiar among southern state but same Southern state people know who is Modi and how he has governed his state is known to them very well and Modi is appreciated by them. Hope you have seen India Today's survey for next PM where Modi got maximum % from Chennai and Bangalore, even from Delhi also.So he is acceptable by the people of India.

Why always compare Nitish with Naveen Patnaik Why we don't compare relation ship with JD-S where BJP formed govt in alliance in Karnataka but what happened BJP got it from JD-S and Congress even BJP performed far better than two in 2009 and there after subsequent election followed in Karnataka people have given chance to BJP only..

In Orissa BJP took BJD by granted and local BJP did no ground work for winning election but same is not the case here in Bihar. Party cadres are more enthused and can take on Nitish any time in future.

Why hurry to jump to conclusion on 2002, lets wait what is there for Modi in Justice Nanvathi & Justice Aksay Mehta commission report. This report will decide future of Modi in Indian politics.

rakesh said...

Dear Swapan,
I am a great fan of yours writing. I read all your post on the Times of India. I have seen congress people bashing you just because you and few other journalist critize them. I have seen so many journalist always being biased towards congress but I felt you are only one who critize BJP as well as Congress.
Today once again I saw you on NDTV talking about Radia's tape. After watching my respect for you almost double. Your question in which you asked Burkha Dutt, like most people have persumption about you being a BJP man so you get lot of calls to pass message to BJP leader,in Radia's tape Barkha Dutt received a called from Radia to pass a message from DMK to congress which makes sense.
I always felt most of news anchors are baised to Congress. I have seen lot of debate on 2G scam and CAG report. In most of the show most of the anchor let Manish Tewari went away by saying the Presemptive word is used 26 times in CAG report and it was done same manner when NDA was in power. But no one question Mr. Tiwari the loss also occured in the way first cum first serve was done.

If I ever come to India I would surly like to meet you. Even though by profession I am an engineer but I am still a big fans of your.


Anonymous said...


why did you sound pusilanimous at the barkhta dutt trial today? missed your crooning.

JayKumar said...

What kind of court it was set up by NDTV 24*7 or by Burka Dutt to prosecute herself? I was shocked to see how come CEO of NDTV 24*7 (Pranay Roy) agreed to have such discussion by self appointing juries?

What ever may be she didn't answered any of the question asked by Manu Joseph....She failed completely to defend herself on her own news channel.

I think she must be axed for her biased approach towards some section of people and political parties like congress and DMK or NDTV 24*7 must openly declare that that they are pro-congress party.

Why Burka is shying away from the people to declare that she is pro-congressites as she herself confessed of her being very near to congress? Even when we all know that almost all media house are pro-congressites then its time for them to come clean and say who they are and whom they will support?

"Jai Ho Secularites"

Deepak said...


I believe Jaitley would make a very good Prime Minister and a force that could unify all non-left anti-congress forces. If they can focus on development and corruption, then without doubt 2014 will be the end of Congress.

Also, loved your questions fired at Barkha. It was a sham show, with Sonia defending Barkha more aggresively than anyone else. Also, Barkha's answers were not at all convincing and her defensive posturing revealed her discomfort.
Also, it was amusing to note that 'show is unedited' - if they had guts, they should have run it live and instead of Sonia, Prannoy himself should have hosted it!!

BTW : Whats your take on the Karnataka corruption issue? Do you feel that BJP has shot itself in the foot by not sacking Yeddy?

ravinder said...

Great write up swapan da,

Agree with you entirely. Uptill now the Hardliners in BJP would not have anything to do with any idea except Narender Modi. And all this forever was attributed to the supposedly superior economic agenda of NaMo.

Now that Nitish has bettered NaMo's performance both on economic agenda and electoral politics, lets see what excuse is forwarded to keep pushing NaMo for PM. NaMo may be good in Gujarat like history but India is much much bigger in scale and scope than just Gujarat.

If the BJP sees the light now, good for it. If it doesnt then the Hindus of righist leenings may just decide to start searching for newer pastures.


BTW Swapanda, the real fight is not the Intra-BJP is the fight along our western and northern borders.

Would like to have your views on the following:

Uptill now you have not given much thought to the Mallechas. This can be a start for you.

JayKumar said...


As I wrote in my previous comment that Nitish is not at all a familiar face among southern state he still a flower bud which needs to get blossomed fully in politics. Even he has never entered in any of those 4 state and tried to know the pulse of the Southern state. While in case of Modi he has attended several college convocation function in Tamil Nadu and has been invited by several forum on politics by rightist. Even Modi road show on Vibrant Gujarat-2011 in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi was huge success with jam pack conference room by business man most of them where local business man rather than from MNC's only. Many software professional from TN say if Modi would have been our CM, by this time TN would have been super power of the world.

Nitish may be today a supermodel for media house and for secularist but ground reality is that he has not come out of Bihar in last 5 years. Even in Jarkand they couldn't win sizable seat in last state assembly so JD-U is confined up to Bihar and that's for sure.

Modi cant be a man in history as most of them project today but he is going to be a reality. Today Mao is not alive or else he would have shown the exact place where congress general secretary and most of the media houses must be at least Modi remained calm on that issue.

Recommended: - That you read Kanchan Gupta's article on daily pioneer web site.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest con jobs done by MMS / Sonia / CONg is use of this "inclusive" word; it is on par with Saddam's "Mother of All.."
Now, we see everyone throwing this word at everything!
we hear about inclusiveness by BJP so I have a question. Can BJP ever get someone more inclusive than ABV? And yet what did his efforts get for BJP? Of course, many will argue Gujarat riots undid him but even before Feb 2002, there was no proof of any positive move towards BJP by the usual suspects in BJP strongholds in North/West. So, be inclusive by all means but not at the cost of BJP's ideals or else it will be a B team of CONg. And, yes, no bigotry from BJP wallahs but it is not an exclusive domain of Parivaar types only.

Naam ka aachar daloge? said...

After supporting corrupt("average" public opinion) Barkha, Vir and others, this dangerously and disastrously naive has bought the bogus "inclusive" line of libtards. He has fallen in their trap. Inclusiveness, secularism, communalism bunkum will evaporate into thin air if BJP gets 170+ seats, which it's unlikely to because the atmosphere might have become anti-Congress now but the fundamental problems ailing the BJP r still there. Shourie also talked about this in his latest interview to Rediff. BJP can pretend as much as it like but the problems haven't gone anywhere and public know it and it also know they are not going to go anywhere when you have people like Jaitley and his poodle like Swapan, Sushma Rajnath, Ananth etc. People's perception and the image of BJP is still not good in the eyes of commoners. However, public do see leaders like Raman Singh, Modi and Nitish as exceptional leaders. Jitna khush hona hai ho lo APNI sarkar 2014 mai NAHI bann rahi. Period.

Swapan Dasgupta said...

Re: the post by Naam ka aachar daloge. The word "inclusive" was put into the heading by The Pioneer. It does not find a place in the article

satyam said... usual
NDA needs to get its act together as only that will shake this government out of its slumber....have been dying to catch a glimpse of the PM speak in india but that hasn't been the case.. INDIA is too big a nation a far more complex to be run by an EGOM.... a strong head is imperative...
but thats the catch who will be that HEAD in the NDA 2.0... hard to fathom as of now