Rebellion in BJP and need for inner-party democracy

It was as though the Bihar debacle provided the BJP stalwarts and veterans like L K Advani and others the perfect opportunity that they were waiting for to target PM Narendra Modi for his ‘dictatorial’ style of functioning. As they say, one should hit the iron when it is hot and that is what the former did with their joint statement issued on the eve of Diwali, two days after the results of Bihar Assembly polls were announced.

The hard-hitting, to the point joint statement issued by Advani, Yashwant Sinha, Murli Manohar Joshi and Shanta Kumar minces no words in its attack on the powers-that-be, urging the party leadership to fix the responsibility for the Bihar fiasco.

“To say that everyone is responsible for the defeat is to make sure that no one is held responsible,” the statement signed by Sinha says, adding, it seemed no lessons were learnt from the Delhi drubbing.

“The principal reason for the latest defeat is the way the Party has been emasculated in the last one year… The review should cover the way the party has been forced to kowtow to a handful and how its consensual character has been destroyed.”BJPletter800

It is a sad commentary on a party that took pride in being ‘different’ from others.

Repeated barbs from Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha on PM Modi for his style of functioning showed that the stalwarts were not alone in taking on the latter. Bhola Singh, BJP’s septuagenarian MP from Bihar, went to attack the top leadership by asking, “Who is Amit Shah? He and the PM are who they are because we entrusted them with all our power… The top leadership alone, which took all the decisions, has to take responsibility for the defeat.”

So why are the BJP’s disgruntled leaders washing their party’s dirty laundry in public?

When the rebels alleged the consensual character of the party was destroyed, it became apparent they were left out in the cold and that they were not a part of the decision-making process. It’s only a few that call the shots, they rued.

It is a sad commentary on a party that took pride in being ‘different’ from others. We are “the party with a difference”, they would proudly claim.

The principal attack of the BJP on Congress has been that it is being run by one family, voices barely get the chance to be heard, showing that there is no inner-party democracy in India’s Grand Old Party. Therefore, when two or three people started taking all the important decisions in the former, it was natural that seniors would register their grievances at the time of their choosing.

Two back-to-back setbacks in Delhi and Bihar have, to an extent, weakened PM Modi and Shah’s absolute hold over the party, aiding the Advani camp to stage a comeback. The Modi camp must understand that a country like India cannot be run by a party where only a few individuals rule the roost. Democracy and diversity are in our DNA and therefore, an undemocratic political party will before long find itself isolated, devoid of any support if it stopped listening to others, especially to its own people.

PM Modi must pay heed to what the old guard has to say to him before it’s too late or maybe he has already burnt his bridges. The BJP must show that it is indeed different from others by respecting voices of dissent.