Proposing a simple process for selecting the BJP President

One of the key issues that the BJP seems to be struggling with is whom to select as its next National President. While this has also got to do with the problems that Nitin Gadkari is facing in terms of allegations of impropriety (and yes I do believe that he is ineligible as Caesar’s wife must be beyond reproach), it is also to do with a deeply flawed process.

While there is no comparison with the dynasty-based Congress, where only a Nehru-Gandhi can become the President, BJP’s process of a “few-wise men” from the Parliamentary Board “selecting” the appropriate candidate, in consultation with the RSS, is just plain wrong. While there is a charade of “election” post the anointment, it is not really anything democratic.

The problem is that while people have generally talked about the primaries-type of process, not much has been proposed which is practicable.

I am proposing a simple alternative, which can work as a good process, and can be instituted almost immediately. The process can be as follows:

  • The National Executive (which I believe has around 200 members, although I am not sure), should be the constituted electoral college
  • The voting should be done either through physical presence or through an SMS-based system, with identity authentication (it is easily doable)
  • The voting should be done in 3 phases, as follows:
    • Phase I – each member to propose at least 3 names whom they feel are fit to be the Party President
    • Phase II – Top 3 names from the voting in Phase I to be put up as candidates and each member to be asked to vote for any one of the candidates
    • Phase III – will be an optional run-off between the top 2 candidates from Phase II, if the candidate with the highest votes (in Phase II) does not get more than 50% of the votes

The above is a deceptively simple process but can have a very powerful impact on the legitimacy of the person who thereby gets elected as the President of the party. This person will command respect across the party and his/her decisions will be accepted, as the person has been elected through popular vote, albeit from within the National Executive.

A similar process should be adopted for the selection of the party’s prime ministerial candidate (a sitting party President would have to resign if designated as the BJP’s PM candidate).

A similar process should be adopted in the states, for electing both the Party President as well as the CM candidate, with a suitably designated electoral college.

If the party with a difference, really wants to do away with the image of a party with differences, than this is the way.

One last point, I am conceptually OK with a President having 2 consecutive terms (although I am against this being done as a Gadkari-specific change in the party constitution). A person should be allowed to have 2 consecutive terms, but no one should be allowed to have more than 2 terms in total.

BJP, are you listening? The clock is ticking……

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Rightwingdian

Rightwingdian is a Mumbai based Resident Commentator of CRI

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