An Open Letter to Modiji

Dear Narendrabhai,

First of all sir, accept our heartiest congratulations on your stupendous victory in Gujarat elections and on taking oath for the 4th time successfully as the chief minister of Gujarat. It is indeed unprecedented in the recent democratic history of India to win close to 2/3rd assembly seats in an assembly election for the fifth consecutive term. To put that victory in perspective, let me assert that when BJP had come to power in your state for the first time some 17 years ago, India was an ancient nation where people used to still communicate using standard trunk dialling on their landline telephones, which in any case were only available for the elite. India then still depended on the friendly neighbourhood postman to deliver their messages and letters to near and dear ones. A telegram was then the preferred mode of communicating urgent one-liners to distant relatives. Almost 80% of India had not yet seen a television, then, and rural India lived in darkness most of the time, cocooned in a time-warp. A Maruti 800 was the ultimate middle class dream of that era. It was an India that would be barely recognizable to the present generation.

All of that has changed, sir, and you have played your part in bringing about that change. Today we (your supporters) proudly proclaim to the world that the 18000 odd villages of Gujarat have 24/7 bijlee, fabulous road connectivity and fast mobile & internet connectivity. In the last three months, I have visited Gujarat twice and have stayed there for more than a fortnight each time to see and get a first-hand account of your development politics. All I heard in my travels across your state, sir, were positive stories about the “tarakki” and change that you have brought about in a decade. It is indeed a pleasure to listen to common ordinary people in villages, towns and cities talk about your development agenda in Gujarat with pride in their eyes and satisfaction in their voices.

Sir, do you know that people, the common Gujaratis, literally worship you as an Avatar Purush who has descended down to earth as an answer to all their woes? In you they see a God who has miraculously transformed their lives by creating a workable governance model. As far as I can remember, no other political leader has been deified to such an extent in close to 3 decades (not even Vajpayee, who was popular as a father figure but not as a demigod who could solve everything).

In fact, sir, only one other Indian has been treated as a demigod in these post-modern times and that is Sachin Tendulkar. Those two innings in Sharjah against Australia in the mid-90’s catapulted Tendulkar to his demigod status and the whole of India started to believe that as long as he was on the crease any miracle would be a possibility. Carrying the responsibility of people’s expectations on one’s shoulders in a cricketing field is easy, but carrying the responsibility of people’s hopes on your shoulders in day to day governance for more than a decade is almost impossible.

Yet, sir, you have proved that you are not susceptible to either crumble under the weight of people’s expectations or fall short of them. Thus, by winning the people’s mandate once again, you have proved that ordinary people can have expectations of governance delivery systems from their leaders.

Looking ahead and moving on

“Moving on” has been a continuing theme in the editorial circles of India in the context of 2002 riots and the supposed Muslim anger, but we want you to move on to a different plateau altogether. It is the other “moving on” that goes beyond Gujarat and looks ahead at the whole of India. Time and again you have clarified that there is a great deal more that needs to be done in Gujarat and that you do not have any ambition to ascend to the throne in Dilli. Maybe, you are right, maybe there is a lot that needs your continuous attention in your home state, maybe it is best if you do not dirty your hands in the muddy politics of Dilli, maybe there are alternate leaders in the BJP and NDA to chalk out a political course.

Unfortunately, sir, history is not made out of “maybes” of the world. History is a continuous assertion of a leadership that rises to the occasion. History is about overcoming the fear of defeat and creating a new path. History is about a Mahatma who reached out to the masses and gave us freedom from our own inner demons. History is about keeping alive the innate entrepreneurial zeal through decades of over-imposed socialism and “Hindu rate of growth”. History is about fighting against all odds and building a party from 2 MPs to the prime-ministership of the world’s largest democracy.

Sir, once, about a decade ago, our prime minister remarked about Raj Dharma in your context, today we, your band of supporters, would like to gently remind you of another Dharma. Yes sir, it is your Rashtra Dharma to move beyond Gujarat and try and live up to the aspirations of India. You simply do not have a choice.

Today both India & BJP are at crossroads and both are desperately in search of alternate leadership. The almost decade long UPA/Congress regime has taken India into such depths of mass sycophancy and welfare statism, that it may still take more than a few years just to bring India back on the track. On the other hand BJP as a party is in such a slumber that it needs a total overhaul to survive beyond being a regional party.

It is sad sir that BJP’s rootless wonders in Dilli have such an unquestioned belief in status-quoism. BJP cannot just be a filler in the gaps and spaces that Congress relinquishes or chooses to temporarily cede. It is absolute fallacy to expect that the unpopularity of the Congress dynastic politics would automatically pave the way for BJP’s rise. The latest wake-up reminder came from the small state of Himachal Pradesh, where BJP lost despite corruption charges against Congress CM candidate and despite the unpopularity of the party nationally.

Sir, in 2012, Himachal was the 3rd state in which BJP either lost an election or performed badly due to internal sabotage. It is a well-known fact that a senior BJP leader of HP was responsible for at least 9 strong rebel candidates who marred the party’s chances completely. This same theme is being repeated across many states where BJP might lose more because of internal contradictions rather than any great challenge from the opposition.

Operation KARMAHU

Sir, it is your duty to take the reins of the party and save it from disaster. It is also your duty to liberate India from the clutches of sheer mediocrity and utter sycophancy. Although the electoral path to victory is a difficult one, it is definitely not impossible. Under your leadership, BJP can achieve the target of 200, yes sir, it is a realistic possibility. Let me try and explain broadly how mission 200 can be achieved.

In order to achieve mission 200, I have divided India into 4 clusters. In the first cluster there are three crucial states that need to be won over; Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. These three states account for 156 MPs and BJP should set an aggressive target of winning at least 50% of these seats (about 75). MP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Haryana together form the 2nd cluster and should bring in about 50 MPs, while Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam and Orissa (3rd cluster) can account for another 50. Finally, rest of India – including Delhi, Punjab, HP, Jammu, Telengana & TN (if there is an alliance) forming the 4th cluster – can account for the remaining 25 MPs.

Crucial to this hypothesis is the base that has to come from the three states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. All the three states are in a flux and can provide stunning results if tapped strategically. It is my humble request to you sir, to concentrate on these 3 states over the next 6 months – at least spend 1 week every month in one of the states to galvanize the cadre and the voters. I have already written in the past about Uttar Pradesh and the highly polarized situation in the state that can be conducive for a BJP revival. http://goo.gl/JPD56 and http://goo.gl/QH5dA

Sir, Maharashtra is another state where your popularity is rising and you must play a key role in bringing the two Sena brothers together. You are in the right vantage position to achieve a rapprochement which can potentially catapult the BJP + the 2 Senas alliance to a big victory in the state.

That brings us to the last state of operation KARMAHU, Karnataka, which symbolises everything that is wrong with the BJP today. Karnataka BJP is a den of hyper-egos, rootless leaders, political corruption and Dilli-imposed agendas. Fortunately for the party, Congress in Karnataka is just a mirror image of the BJP, it is simply waiting that BJP’s internal dynamics will force the electorate to vote for it and that power will fall into its lap without any struggle.

Sir, it is really sad that BJP has let down its voters so badly in the southern gateway of the party. If you recall, Karnataka had reposed such faith in the party in 2008 that it had given an unprecedented mandate to the BJP, which was further enhanced by sending the highest number of party MPs in the 2009 LS polls. All of this has gone down the drain because of infighting and Dilli BJP’s agendas.

Today, the average BJP karyakarta is so crestfallen in the state that he/she may not even campaign for the party in the upcoming elections. Many leaders and local stalwarts are already making a beeline towards the exit gate and are looking at greener pastures in other parties. I can personally vouch for at least 3-4 ministers who won’t be contesting on the BJP ticket, come what may. Many sub-regional BJP leaders argue in private that the party may never recover after its sure defeat in 2013.

Sir, it is your utmost duty to rescue the party in Karnataka, even if it means taking some radical measures. It is your duty to assure the cadre that you will prevent the doomsday scenario in the state. You must take charge of the state, even if there is no chance of a BJP victory in the assembly elections, for this is a battle for survival. BJP losing the elections is fine, but at least the party should survive as a battle-ready unit for the LS polls – please do remember that Karnataka has always voted for BJP in national elections more than in state elections. After taking control of the party, please take 10 immediate measures;

  1. There should be complete clarity on BSY; either the party totally shunts him and all his supporters out ruthlessly, or restores him as the leader with state presidentship; no half-way measures please
  2. Anant Kumar’s wings should be permanently cut and he must be grounded for life, if the party is to survive in the state
  3. Give Jagadish Shettar the full backing or make BSY the state president and give him unconditional support
  4. K.S. Eshwarappa and his gang should be seriously reprimanded and he should be asked to keep his mouth shut
  5. You sir, must personally apologize to the Karnataka voters on behalf of the party and set a 10 point program to change the governance model of the state
  6. Reach out to your core-voters; the veerashaiva community is similar to the Patels in Gujarat and has accepted non-Lingayat leadership in the past (R.K. Hegde).
  7. Create aggressive campaign to highlight the achievements of the BJP government in the state – in all the cacophony of internal feuds, the good work done by the govt. is being drowned in the noise, for instance, the Vajpayee arogyshri is a stellar example of how many poor patients have benefited.
  8. Micro-target OBCs/Dalits – like you did in Gujarat successfully – for instance, the Banjara community, which has always stood behind the party in 2-3 elections is now slowly getting disillusioned and might vote for Congress or KJP.
  9. Overcome the local-level anti-incumbency by bringing in a lot of fresh faces, especially in Bangalore and Mumbai-Karnataka
  10. Keep Dharmendra Pradhan at least 2000 km away from Karnataka

Finally, sir, there is one last request; please do tap the vast amount of energy that is lurking online on twitter, blogs and right-wing platforms. I am a latecomer to the digital right of India, but am amazed at the intellectual strength and analytical sophistication of the right-wing warriors of internet. They can become a great force multiplier in not only spreading your message but also in strategizing for you and the party electorally and otherwise. In effect, you can actually create a parallel organization that can help you successfully execute operation KARMAHU. I am reasonably convinced that a vast number of these internet warriors are willing to actually sacrifice 6 months to 1 year of their lives for re-building India. Surprisingly, a large number of these internet warriors actually live in Bangalore and you can use Karnataka elections as the starting point of this revolutionary new idea.

Thank You,

Yours faithfully,

An ardent BJP supporter and believer in the idea of NaMO

Image Courtesy-   Hindu Business Line

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Praveen Patil

Praveen Patil

Analyst of Indian electoral politics and associated economics with a right-of-centre perspective.