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Hindustan Times
January 15, 2013
The sense of outrage and anger is understandable. But the BJP’s leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha perhaps let emotion get the better of her when she spoke of the need to get 10 heads from Pakistan for the one it took away after its soldiers mutilated the body of an Indian soldier murdered on the Line of Control (LoC). However, given her position in public life, Sushma Swaraj should have thought twice before making such a statement which we can only take as being the sentiments of her party. This tough talk is clearly an attempt to boost the BJP’s image at a time when the party is going through what can be only charitably called a crisis.

The fact that the RSS has opted for an unprecedented second term for party president Nitin Gadkari after failing to find a successor suggests that either there is a paucity of talent in the party or that the BJP’s ideological mentor will stick with someone whom Nagpur is comfortable with. But is this in the best interest of the party? There has been open criticism of Mr Gadkari from very senior party leaders over his alleged role in financial irregularities in a company he was associated with. Before this matter could be resolved satisfactorily, Mr Gadkari has been chosen to steer the party as general elections draw near. This can only demoralise the rank and file of the BJP, as it can no longer play the corruption card against the Congress. It may be a virtue to go into the elections without naming a PM candidate in ideal conditions. But this is not the case for the BJP at the moment. In recent times, it has had little by way of any new vision or policies to offer. So, it really will make a difference to the electorate if it knows who could be in the top position.

In attacking the government on its alleged leniency towards Pakistan, again the BJP is sailing in choppy waters. It was its tallest leader AB Vajpayee who made the historic border crossing in a bus. It was under its watch that dreaded militants like Masood Azhar got safe passage from India. The PM has reached out to both Ms Swaraj and leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on the Pakistan issue. If the BJP has a viable formula on how to deal with Pakistan, it should spell it out. While professing its democratic credentials, it does the party little credit to stand by while a so-called cultural organisation like the RSS decides on matters which will have far-reaching consequences on the BJP’s destiny. Whether on the rape case or on Pakistan, it is incumbent on senior leaders to be measured in their words. Such extreme sentiments as expressed by Ms Swaraj do not reflect well on the BJP. Nor, for that matter, does its seemingly endless search for a viable leader. If the nation is looking for an alternative leadership, now is the time for the BJP to step up to the plate.