I came across this post on Centre Right India. In the light of recent election results,in this post the author lists down some changes that the BJP should implement. It got me thinking on similar lines as to what should be possible changes in the BJP.
Before writing down this post, I jotted the following questions/objectives of the proposed changes on a piece of paper. Let me state upfront, I am focusing on the long term changes and not short term. Readers should not expect any outcomes immediately in 2014. If these changes are implemented, real change should be visible on the ground in five years.
· BJP as an organization is very strong in many states. How to keep this going, continuity is the key?
· A direct outcome of being strong at states results in rise of regional satraps like Yedurrappa and Modi. How do you keep them in check? How do you avoid another Karnataka type situation where one leader is holding a veto power? After losing Kalyan BJP is still struggling in the state. Party must be bigger that an individual. How to ensure that?
· How to keep central leadership strong? BJP’s first generational leadership consisted of Atal, Advani and Joshi. They travelled across the country and built up the party and had a mass base. Today the D4 are heading the party but have no base.
· BJP is essentially a north-Indian party with limited reach in east and south. How to grow beyond its bastions? How does it regains it earlier bastions UP?
· In today’s India, BJP is not considered a youth party. While other parties have babalogs at helm, BJP has the likes of Advani (I have deep respect for him) at helm. How to present a more youthful face of the party?
· While targeting the youth, BJP should not turn the Congress way and turn dynastic. It must ensure meritocracy and ensure that it does not becomes a Congress B-Team.
1. STRICT AGE LIMITS
Any organization that intends to keep continuity must have a well defined process of succession. For e.g. Infosys has an age limit of 65 and Narayan Murthy himself retired after reaching 65. Such an age limit necessitates succession planning and allows younger leadership to develop.
Chinese Communist Party too has such age limits.
BJP must amend its constitution and have strict age limits. An age limit of 75 should be applied and anyone above that age would be given any party ticket or cannot hold any party official position. Such individuals can only be nominated to Governors or stand for the post of President/Vice-President.
Likewise, BJP should have age limits for Party presidents, state presidents and Chief Ministers. An age limit of 65 should be enforced for CM/State Presidents. Anyone above that age should move to the center.
Such a system would ensure that someone like Advani cannot remain at helm indefinitely. He needs to make way for younger leadership. Such a system would also ensure that someone like a Ram Prakash Gupta cannot be brought from outside to replace Kalyan Singh in UP, something that led to the downfall of BJP in the state.
As I said earlier, BJP must be bigger than any individual, and no one, not even someone like Vajpayee, should not be allowed to do kick out a Chief Minister in such a manner.
2. STRICT TERM LIMITS
BJP must put a limit on the number of terms a person can be elected to the Legislative Assembly or serve as Chief Minister. Any member cannot stand for more than four terms in the Legislative Assembly or two terms as Chief Minister/Minister. After that he must move to the centre and stand for Lok Sabha elections.
Such a system would automatically allow space for new leadership to develop at the State Level. It would also not allow anyone to become too strong. It would also bring stronger and mass based leaders at the centre instead of present rootless D4 leaders.
3. INVEST IN FUTURE
If BJP were to grow in southern/eastern states or recapture states like UP, it is unlikely to do so overnight. It will take at least 10 yrs if BJP were to start today and make a consistent effort on such an objective.
It thus doesn’t make sense to have an older leadership. BJP must invest in future and identify a group of 5-10 young leaders (sub-45 age) and give the state party reins to such leaders. It doesn’t make sense to have a Kalraj Mishra or Surya Pratap Shahi type of leaders at helm.
4. STRICT CRITERIA FOR LEADERSHIP
There must be clearly defined criteria for leadership whether it is party president ship, state president ship or Chief Ministership. The criteria must be over and above the age limit criteria already discussed above.
A state president must command his leadership. This can only happen if he is an elected member of the Legislative Assembly/Parliament. Otherwise, the president will only exist in name and will not be able to exert his influence.
Criteria of State President: Must be either a sitting member of Legislative Assembly/Parliament or should have been member in the last five years. This criteria can be relaxed in case BJP does not have any presence in the state like North East.
Criteria of President: Must be either a sitting member of Legislative Assembly/ Parliament or should have been member in the last five years.
Such a criteria, if in place would ensure that people like Kushabhau Thakre, Bangaru Laxman and Venkaiah Naidu do not make it to the top post in BJP. In my view, the reason for BJP’s downfall is poor leadership in the party during the time it was in power. Perhaps such leaders were given the top job because the then Prime Minister and Home Minister didn’t want competition at the top.
Party must be above every individual. There must be a continuity of process and no arbitrariness.
5. PROMOTING YOUTH
In the modern era of 24X7 news television, perception matters much more. BJP needs to present a more modern and youthful face. Instead of the likes of Javdekars and Prasads, BJP should bring its younger MPs as its spokespersons. There is enough talent in the party which needs to be given space and more responsibility.
6. DIVERSIFY BASE
BJP needs to diversify its base and reach out to all communities. The recent Goa results are encouraging and the same template needs to be applied elsewhere. The party cannot truly become a national party unless it expands its support base among all communities including Muslims and Christians.
7. ENSURE MERITOCRACY
Winn ability in elections matters and this often leads to promotion of dynasty. Of late even BJP is going this way. This is a very dangerous trend and needs to be checked. Any BJP ticket that is given should be based solely on merit. All ticket holders must have been active members of the party for at least 3-5 years. Giving tickets to relative’s shows how weak the party is increasing becoming and it cannot find new talent.