March 31, 2020
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Long Pants, Anyone?

The BJP is a walking ghost, the poll results just one more nail...

Long Pants, Anyone?
Tribhuvan Tiwari
Long Pants, Anyone?

Is it time to start writing requiems for the BJP? This round of assembly elections marked a particular low as the saffron party finally caught the dynastic disease from the Congress. Tickets went in Maharashtra on the basis of bloodlines; it did little good and also lost for the BJP a decisive tool on which it had hinged past attacks on the Congress and regional parties.

The polls also exposed the so-called “galaxy of national leaders”. No one was in demand for campaigning and even Gujarat CM Narendra Modi gave up after a few token appearances in Maharashtra. L.K. Advani is clearly past his glory days and none of the second-rung stars seem to have any fizz. On result day, the party HQ in Delhi wore a deserted look.

Once a shooting star burning bright in Indian politics, today the BJP is defined by all-round incompetence and a lack of hope. Consider some of the responses in the face of the defeat. Maharashtra BJP leader Nitin Gadkari came up with a “we tried our best...we’ll introspect”. In Delhi, Ravi Shankar Prasad stated the obvious, “the anti-incumbency vote was divided”. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the man in charge of the state, blamed the evms and said they had been doctored. And anyway, Naqvi was but a lamb to the slaughter, only given charge of the critical state because no one else wanted to take on a losing prospect.

With the leadership discredited, the rss’s reclamation project should gain momentum. But it’s a catch 22 situation, Maharashtra/Nagpur is after all the Sangh janmabhoomi. A case of one set of losers leading another?

One argument put forward is that the BJP has to get a young, modern face that will appeal to its fast depleting ranks of urban, middle-class voters. But it’s not just a question of projecting a modern face or finding the right ideological issue anymore. It’s the party’s lack of connect to people’s survival issues that is most glaring.

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