The BJP won the 2014 general elections with a handsome margin. Yet the saffron party doesn’t seem to be in any mood to rest on its laurels.
Instead, it is hungry to consolidate its position across the country — and what better opportunity to realise that dream than the next round of four state elections (Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir) which kick off at the end of this year.
With this objective in view, BJP president Amit Shah announced his new team last week, which is marked by two characteristics: One, it’s refreshingly young (by Indian political standards) and second, it has a strong RSS imprint.
Though former Karnataka chief minister 71-year-old BS Yeddyurappa, one of 11 new vice-presidents, skews the average age of the team, 60% of the new office bearers are under 50 and there are very few leaders above 60 years.
This ‘generational shift’ in the BJP makes sense. Young leaders would connect better with a young India and voice its aspirations more powerfully. There has been some criticism, though, regarding the non-inclusion of young MP Varun Gandhi, who was a general secretary in the earlier set-up under Rajnath Singh.
However, the party has said that the decision was taken keeping in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy that only one person from a family can hold a post.
With the party reshuffle over and an able president at the helm, Mr Modi will now be free to devote much more time to issues of policy and governance.
This clear division of responsibility within the party will only strengthen the BJP unlike what happened in the Congress era when the persistent question of diarchy put a shadow on the normal functioning of the government.
The presence of several RSS members in the new team is also an exercise in improving the synergy between the BJP and the RSS. This is vital because there have been numerous instances when comments of RSS leaders have only put the BJP in a tight spot and have given the Opposition ammunition to target it.
In fact, on Sunday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who was in Mumbai to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of the VHP, said, “Hindustan is a Hindu nation...Hindutva is the identity of our nation and it (Hinduism) can incorporate others (religions) in itself.”
Obviously, such comments would not go down well in a diverse country like ours.
With its house in order, the BJP can now focus wholeheartedly on the four elections and even its critics will agree that it’s far better-placed than any of its political opponents.
The new president’s strategy appears to be bold and is a marked departure from the BJP’s conservative standards. And given the voters’ indulgence towards the party at present, Mr Shah’s plan may reap rich dividends.