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Cong, BJP will now have to nurture a truly inclusive politics

comment Updated: Dec 09, 2013 23:05 IST

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After such bitterly fought elections, most of those who were in the fray must desperately long for a bit of rest and recreation. But no such luck for them, as they will have to begin preparations for the big fight which is almost upon them.

And here the BJP and Congress, the big two, will have to adopt very different strategies.

The BJP has got a massive morale booster with the election results. It will naturally seek to replicate this in other states.

But here, it must not make the mistake it made in Delhi where the chief ministerial candidate took secondary place to the prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in all the publicity material.

The BJP does not have a real presence in many parts of India, particularly the southern states, the Northeast and the east.

It must not rush in there projecting Mr Modi, instead it should try and prop up local BJP leaders where there are any or use the positive message from these assembly elections to get allies into its fold, giving them prominence. This is the only way that the party can create a multiplier effect across the country, come the general elections.

While Mr Modi is a pan-India figure now, he is still an unknown quantity in many places. This is why the BJP needs to think national and act local. The fact that it has chosen a prime ministerial candidate well in advance is useful but must be used judiciously.

For the Congress, this has been just about the loudest wake-up call it could get. Its poor showing will now be discussed and dissected, and if the party stays true to type, blame will be laid on the doorstep of the defeated leaders. This will serve little purpose.

The party must understand that in today’s political marketplace, it is just another party jostling for space. Its advantage is that it has recall across India and an organisational structure.

It must galvanise this in the short time left before the general election and once again give prominence to its local leadership. It must jettison the notion that a high command can call the shots.

But at the same time, it must shake off the impression that it does not really have a CEO who is giving the party a broad direction.

The rise of strong regional parties makes it all the more difficult for the big two to come to power on their own. This means that both will have to put egos aside and develop a relationship of equals with them.

The success of the AAP shows the perils of underestimating anyone in today’s rapidly changing political scene. The national parties now have a tough test — that of nurturing a truly inclusive form of politics.