The relatively quick and decisive formation of the BJP’s state executive in Uttarakhand by its new state President Mahendra Bhatt shows the difference between a genuine party organisation and one that is a closely held proprietorship. The other prominent party in Uttarakhand, the Congress, has been faltering when it comes to appointing party officials and hemorrhaging badly in the process. It may be noted that the BJP has presented an executive with a younger profile even as it has maintained the usual regional and caste balance. Some stalwarts who may have been considered indispensable have also been replaced, indicating not just the wealth of talent but also confidence in the support base to accept changes. On the other hand, the most ‘active’ in the Congress is the ‘elderly’ Harish Rawat, not exactly a ship suitable to cross an ocean.
One of the reasons for BJP’s confidence in its cadre is the ideological base of its politics, which is inculcated at an early stage. It may morph differently in individuals, but the party line is ultimately sought to be followed. Traditionally, the BJP and its earlier avatar, the Jan Sangh, have had a conservative ideology, with strong patriarchal strains but, in recent years, there has not only been greater inclusion of women, but also handing over of significant responsibilities to them. This is also reflected in the new state executive.
It is natural that, by adopting democratic practices and becoming more representative in every way, the BJP will benefit as a party, particularly in electoral contests. Of course, feudal, caste, populist and regional politics also has a strong following, but the BJP should not be blamed for benefiting from adopting the right practices. It is accused of ‘monopolising’ power, but why should it be held responsible for the failings of its rivals? One needs only to see the hypocrisy in the Congress’s attempt to ‘democratise’ – a ‘new’ power centre is welcome as long as it is a Gandhi or kow-tows to them. India needs a ‘balanced’ democracy with an effective opposition, but is it entirely the ruling party’s responsibility to deliver that?