Oh, that strange, strange entity called the Bharatiya Janata Party. One would have thought that after its rather underwhelming performance at the 2009 general elections, the party formerly known as ‘the party with a difference’ would have gone into a Rodin-like mode of deep introspection, placing all the things that went wrong in its strategy on the cutting table for a post-mortem. But then space shuttle disasters and drooping television TRPs demand such investigations, not rotten poll results of the venerable BJP. Or at least that’s what seemed to be the initial message from the recessional party’s, well, capo di tutti capi, Rajnath Singh. To add to this intrigue, is the slugfest that’s broken out between party seniors that include the likes of Jaswant Singh from Darjeeling and LK Advani from another era. Poor folks like Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj have been left putting on a brave face even as they huddle in the cramped crow’s nest of a sinking BJP ship.
But it’s not all tragedy at the BJP headquarters; there’s a farce on too. On Monday, at a meeting of senior party members, the BJP president reacted to strident demands for a ‘let us find out what went wrong’ exercise by muttering something about conducting an “assessment” — if necessary. Whichever way one looks at how to define ‘necessary’, one would think that the BJP could do with some soul-searching. So, Mr Singh sprung with the information that a three-member committee had already been set up to “gather inputs” from various state units regarding what went wrong at the hustings. There’s just one catch: it’s a ‘secret committee’ with Mr Singh insisting that no names be made public to “keep out factionalism”.
So we now have a shadowy group — not unlike the Opus Dei within the Catholic Church (made famous by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code) — out there somewhere, its members a secret and its existence a bit more than a rumour. While the nuisance of factionalism is cleverly avoided by Mr Singh’s cunning plan — to whom will anyone provide feedback in exchange for future requirements? — the even smarter thing that the BJP president has done is given the impression that a post-mortem is underway even though nothing of the sort may be happening at all. Mr Singh knows that just by sending out the message that something is being done, something is being done. Who knows? Maybe the BJP, at least according to the Haroun al-Raschid-like Rajnath Singh, was the secret victor in Election 2009. That is one way of clearing up the gathering mess within the party.