The BJP prepares for 2022

The national executive showed that the BJP remains politically committed to expanding its power — a trait the Opposition may well want to imbibe. For polls, the BJP’s narrative will centre on welfare, nationalism, and leadership
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being felicitated by Union ministers and party leaders Nitin Gadkari, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, J P Nadda and Piyush Goyal at the national executive meeting, New Delhi, November 7, 2021 (HTPHOTO) PREMIUM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being felicitated by Union ministers and party leaders Nitin Gadkari, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, J P Nadda and Piyush Goyal at the national executive meeting, New Delhi, November 7, 2021 (HTPHOTO)
Updated on Nov 09, 2021 11:35 AM IST
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ByHT Editorial

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s recent national executive was focused on three inter-related elements — messaging, organisation and leadership — with an eye on assembly elections in key states, including Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Gujarat, next year. On the narrative, the BJP’s key challenge this year has been finding a way to ward off criticism of its perceived mismanagement of the second wave of Covid-19. The political resolution indicates that it hopes to do so by focusing on the high vaccination rate, welfare support during the pandemic for the poor (especially the provision of rations), and accusing the Opposition of spreading disinformation. The party will also politically own and leverage the implementation of its ideological agenda, especially the effective abrogation of Article 370, in a characteristic juxtaposition of national security issues with domestic politics. The resolution also indicated that welfare measures across other spheres will continue to be the government’s key economic card.

On leadership, despite murmurs that the party’s senior-most national leaders haven’t been comfortable with UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the party threw its weight fully behind Mr Adityanath in the run-up to the state elections. This message was as much to those outside the party as to those inside the party in the state. But the repeated references, in almost every paragraph of the resolution, to Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi showed that for the BJP, there is eventually only one leader and vote-winner. Surveys have repeatedly shown that the PM is more popular than the party; after seven years of being in power, this hasn’t changed and continues to help the BJP. But in the long-run, the continued attribution of all success to only one leader can erode the party’s institutional strength and isn’t healthy for a wider democratic political culture. It’s a mistake other parties have made in the past.

On the organisational front, party president JP Nadda is hoping to continue his predecessor, Amit Shah’s focus on building the party’s strength at the level of booth committees. This organisational strength plays a part in neutralising popular discontent to a certain extent, and that is why PM Modi focused on the party worker as being the bridge to the citizens. The party also hoped to boost the morale of its workers by underplaying the BJP’s recent political setbacks (West Bengal in particular), and pointing to its continued expansion, even as the Congress continues to lose support. But, at the core, the national executive showed that the BJP remains politically committed to expanding its power — a trait the Opposition may well want to imbibe.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021