The Rise And Rise Of Gadkari
When the gloomy and dark clouds, namely corruption, nepotism, stashing away black money in Swiss banks, price rise, terrorism, and to aggravate the scenario, a government at the centre led by the weak leadership, have enveloped the country, it is immensely satisfactory that the reins of the principal Opposition party are in the hands of determined, suave and young leader, Nitin Gadkari. For, under his dynamic, energetic, vibrant and visionary leadership, the ship of BJP is successfully riding different waves—whether it is exerting pressure on the government to weed out corruption, curb nepotism, formulate appropriate policies to bring down prices of essential commodities, or rapping the government on the knuckles for bringing back the black money stashed away in Swiss banks, eliminate terrorism, or BJP itself is infusing a sense of patriotism into the countrymen. Therefore, it can be aptly said that Nitin Gadkari’s elevation to the post of BJP’s president was a step in right direction, as he was able to bring to table very effective “managers” of affairs related to regular operations while very carefully drafting tactical moves and finally developing strategical plans in a different style—more earthy, and less, or rather sans ostentation, in a sophisticated style. His style of functioning substantiated that he knows importance of disciplined way of running the operations of party like a corporate house with Arjun-like focus on results. The details given in Gadkari’s blog about his personality exactly map to that requirement that BJP needed. And Gadkari’s that no-claptrap approach is beginning to yield results. It is noteworthy that BJP has excellent ideologues, orators, and mass leaders, but what it lacked was a person who could weave all these together in a well thought-out and well-directed scheme. This loophole is plugged by Gadkari, whose moorings are firmly rooted in cultural ethos of the country.
It is worth mentioning that Gadkari, when he assumed the high office, was written off by many, particularly the so-called secular media. He was largely seen as a sub-provincial political operator who was predicted to find the going tough in the cauldron of Delhi politics. But belying all predictions, Nitin Gadkari fulfilled almost all the expectations of the people as a no-nonsense, self-effacing, down-to-earth man, who means business. Over one year’s stint as president of BJP is good enough to judge the performance and also get a fair idea of the trajectory that the party is headed to under the Gadkari-led regime. An honest assessment will indicate that Gadkari has acquitted himself reasonably well. However, he had a tough hurdle to cross—the shockingly abysmal internal bickering in the party when he took over the mantle of party’s chief.
Nitin Gadkari himself represents a phenomenon worthy of admiration as he leads the only party that can dethrone the corrupt, vote-bank pandering and sycophantic Congress party. The statement of one of the latter’s leaders, “Muslims in the BJP can have only a tokenistic role and rise up to a certain point, but not beyond it” is hilarious in the context that the same applies to “all” in the Congress, save the Nehru-Gandhi family. Gadkari, unlike the dynastic prince-crown such as Gandhis, Scindias, Hoodas, who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, rose from the scratch to the top post. Therefore, no surprise, Gadkari is an accomplished entrepreneur, who appears to be seamlessly incorporating his corporate learning and insights into the party machinery. His focus is on building systems and processes—aim for long-term, steady institutional renewal rather than any overdramatic transformational initiatives. But while Congress continues its familiar political script revolving around symbolic grandstanding cynically camouflaged in politics of social engineering, communal budgeting, caste calculus and entitlement-based economics, Gadkari has been pretty refreshing in steering the course of BJP’s discourse. Also Gadkari has clearly realised that combining agitational and aspirational politics will be the key to address “image” deficit problem of BJP as a principal Opposition. Gadkari also has the enviable task of stemming the phenomenon of BJP losing its edge as a natural party for cerebral India. This can be done only if party meaningfully engages with sympathetic expertise available to it. In this direction, formation of party research cell to rejuvenate existing party policy-making apparatus by exposing them to contemporary ideas and thought seeding is a welcome move. It’s good that the research cell is planning to work on policy convergence, to enable best practices aggregation from party-governed states and perform legislative research assistance to parliamentary wing.
However, there are many challenges facing the party today, first and foremost the party must distinguish itself from the UPA by upholding highest values in public life. If that means acting against a few powerful persons within, so be it. It also has to maintain a position of honour and dignity with its allies and at the same time attract more allies. Further, Gadkri has to develop the necessary framework to address the various types of deprivation prevailing in the society.