National executive meetings of national political parties are usually pleasant gatherings where the main purpose is to conduct pat-on-the-back exercises and to trumpet the good work done. To make the affair not turn into a blatant shmaltz-fest, 'introspection' is included as part of the schedule. After the three-day BJP national executive meeting at Dehradun, however, all that party members seem to remember is former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's 'reminder' that "skills and experience sharpen with age" and that the party elders should not be consigned to the dustbin of history. Coming from the 82-year-old, the point is self-explanatory: neither the 76-year-old LK Advani nor Vajpayee himself is willing to take up political vanaprastha, never mind sanyas, yet. But the real question is whether the BJP has any choice in this matter.
As the main Opposition party of the country, the BJP has, for quite a while now, been tied up not in anything particularly soul-stirring, but has been simply tied up. One look at the issues discussed at Dehradun - national security, spiralling price rise of essential commodities, farmers' suicides, 'Vande Mataram' and OBC reservations - tells the story. There is an oppositional weapon lurking somewhere in that pile, but no one seems to know how to transform it into something worthwhile beyond the mandatory tub-thumping. The fact that the BJP was more interested during the last Parliament session in conducting tamashas outside the Parliament building and that the biggest talking point vis-a-vis the party was Jaswant Singh's 'mole-in-the-PMO' interlude, only confirms that the 'party with a difference' has nothing to offer those disgruntled with the UPA.
No party can survive for long without the injection of new blood. But with the BJP still unsure of what it stands for and where it intends to go more than two years after its departure from the Centre, it shouldn't surprise us that an ex-leader is forced under the spotlights to lecture his party men about leadership.