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Review Intelligently

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The recent narrow victory in Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar and defeat in UP’s Ghosi Vidhan Sabha by-polls for the BJP need to be properly interpreted. The Congress is right in pointing out that the ruling party’s margin of victory in Bageshwar fell considerably, indicating a shift in voter preference towards it. It could also have been that pro-BJP voters wee complacent about victory and did not turn out. This may be borne out by the fact that there was about a five percent drop in voting numbers.

The BJP is planning to review its preparations for the coming Lok Sabha polls. For this, it needs to examine the Bageshwar and Ghosi verdicts, as well as that in Dhupgiri in West Bengal. It may revel in the fact that it is the largest party in the democratic world, but it seems also to have become heavily bureaucratised. Its response to grassroots challenges may not be as prompt as used to be in the past. It boasts of how its members rise up the chain of command based on merit. However, it has come to depend increasingly on turncoats, as in Ghosi, and nominating family members of deceased MLAs and MPs, as in Bageshwar. In both these constituencies, it would have been natural for activists who have spent decades working for the party to have been disappointed and lost interest in the outcome. It may be important that elections need to be won to ensure Prime Minister Modi returns to power, but is dilution of the party ideology the way to go? The spirit of the years of struggle when out of power should not be forgotten while enjoying the fruits of present day success.

In the larger perspective, two other factors are also playing a major role as the party takes on behemoth proportions. It has been neglectful of traditional allies like the Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, etc. Also, splitting parties to weaken the opposition has become too common, regardless of the impact on the morale of its own workers. In this regard, its cosying up to the JD(S) after the recent defeat in Karnataka is a move in the right direction.

The proposed review in Uttarakhand should be a genuine effort and not a reiteration of clichés. The hard work of long time activists must be acknowledged and rewarded. Sensitivity to public opinion is a must. Uttarakhand has traditionally been a bellwether state – the bigger the margins of victory here, the better the party’s prospects elsewhere.