Challenges before Nadda as BJP Chief
The Bharatiya Janata Party is passing through a transitory period – this is a common perception of common people in the country and abroad. But, the truth is entirely different than the commonly perceived one. Jagat Prakash Nadda, the full-fledged president of BJP, who took over as the party president on January 20, 2020, has been a backbone of the party since Lok Sabha elections 2014. Nadda has worked in close association with former BJP Organising Secretary – Ram Lal during the Government of UPA II. Nadda has worked for the party for more than 30 years. Nadda has his roots in three states i.e. Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. He is a soft spoken and well disciplined party worker. He is and acceptable president across the party.
Of course the road is not so smooth for Nadda as party president but, yes of course, he is having caliber to take the party to new heights in terms of political achievements. Nadda has to work under the shadows of big heavyweights i.e. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Many find him less capable as compared with his predecessors just because of his less-speaking and shy nature. However, the reality is somewhat different. Nadda was one of the key architects to draft the winning strategies for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and 2019.
Eyes are on Nadda as he is heading the largest democratic political party in the world having base of more than 200 million members as of now. Bharatiya Janata Party is setting new standards of political behaviour in the country and hence as the party president Nadda has to be careful while setting new presidents.
Spreading Party’s Base in South and North-East
Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the states having scanty presence of BJP political influence. Nadda has to show his organizational ability by spreading party base in states where it has not done well till date. Numbers of BJP workers have sacrificed their lives in these states for establishing foundation of the party. the North-east is still a big challenge for BJP to firm its political grip. Past presidents have done tremendous job for strengthening party’s base in the country. This legacy is to be carried forward by the incumbent president. Nevertheless, the party has dented Mamta’s fortress in West Bengal to a considerable level. At the same time regional parties in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand are trying to regain power. Nadda has a big role to play in terms of ensuring party’s presence in newer states as well as in presently ruling states. Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the toughest job for BJP to make its significant presence for reaching ultimately to the power.
State Elections Ahead
The immediate greatest challenge before the new president was to bring back the party in power in Delhi elections after 1998, but in vain. Aam Adami Party (APP) has been in power for the last five years in Delhi and is capable of using Government machinery in favour of the party. Despite Amit Shah had the baton of Delhi election in his hand, the onus was upon Nadda to lead BJP with winning notes.
The year of 2022 is going to be acid test year for J P Nadda as two big states are going to face election in this year i.e. Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Punjab election might be a shy of relief as BJP’s ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is making stiff efforts against Captain Amrinder Singh to win the poles. But the trouble doesn’t stop here for Nadda as he has to defend four other BJP ruling states going for poles in the same years – Manipur, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Nadda will have to ensure party’s victory in state elections of Karnataka, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland by the hard, slog end of his tenure
Shading Urban Image
There is a strong propaganda carried by the opposition parties against the BJP that it is an urban party and belongs to Baniyas and Businessmen. This is a strong responsibility on the shoulder of Nadda to shade the false image among common people created by the opponent parties. The party has to discover new strategies to be popular among farmers and villagers across the country. As a matter of fact BJP has 46% and 47% vote share in rural and urban areas respectively. Hence, it is clear that there is only 1 percent difference of BJP vote share in rural and urban area. Similarly, Nadda has to take pain for changing party’s Baniaya image. He has to prove that the party belongs to all classes may it be service class, business, people or daily wagers. Amit Shah’s USP was that he used to penetrate in untouched areas with unique planning and strategies to ensure ultimate success for the party. Nadda needs to learn these tactics from his immediate predecessor.
Benchmark set by the past Presidents
Beyond all doubts, BJP is vigorous, the strongest and largest political party in the country today. Past presidents of the party i.e. Atal Bihari Bajpai, Lal Krishna Advani, Amit Shah and other have set a very high touchstone for the incumbent president. The predecessors have taken the party to invincible height during the strong regime of Congress. Congress as political party is trying very strongly to outplay BJP from the political arena at national and regional level. J P Nadda has to show strong leadership traits to strengthen party’s hold in existing states as well as at the centre. BJP as party has a very clean image in terms of financial affairs. Bangaru Laxam resigned as party president in 2001 on a simple note of bribery allegation. Moreover, this party has a tradition of electing its presidents from all Indian states. As president, Nadda has to ensure that organisation is full of representatives from all parts of the country but not from any specific region. Past presidents had a high standard of transparency and principles; such transparency and principles would work as guiding principles for Nadda.
Building Financial Strength
As per one survey in 2018, Bharatiya Janata Party received Rs. 550 crores (approximately) corporate funding, the highest among all political parties in India. BJP is financially strong party but no fund is forever. Party has to spend considerable fund on state and national elections. Public relations, propaganda and marketing of electoral candidate is an expensive affair just because opponents don’t spare smallest of the efforts in this direction. Moreover, all political parties including BJP spend money on social welfare activities even when there is no election. The quantum of expenditure on social welfare depends upon size of the political party. Of course, being a large political party of the nation BJP has the encumbrance to spend more on social welfare activities. Raising funds for party activities is another big challenge before the current president Nadda.
Switchers and Perpetrators
As per reporting of a national magazine, nearly 50 percent of the newly elected Lok Sabha (2019) members have criminal records. Tainted candidates are not new to Indian politics. Even the executed ones are playing dominant role in Indian politics. In Indian democratic political structure, we do have lot of loopholes to allow candidates having criminal and tainted background. We need to understand the difference between ethical and legal. It would be really a great challenge for J P Nadda to cleanse the party from present and prospective candidates having criminal background. The political parties follow the principle “everything is fair in love and war”; but BJP has been stating since its inception that it will not allow criminals to join the party nor it will promote them directly or indirectly.
This is a common scenario for all political parties that their long associates dessert them for petty reasons especially during election times for the want of electoral tickets. Seasonal switchers from one party to another are big headache for all parties. Keeping all party workers intact throughout his tenure is a great challenge for Nadda for coming three years.
The past party presidents of BJP were busy in confronting with 125 years old Congress party and some regional tycoons till date. The past presidents have considerably outplayed Congress nationwide and put the tycoons on back-foot. The party chiefs have used all tactics to counter their counterparts in the political arena. Nadda has got an opportunity to set new standards for a brighter future of the party. The new commander may decide, of course in consensus with his team-mates, about minimum qualifications for election contesting candidates such as educational qualification, non-criminal background, age limits, female reservations/ quota, declaration of wealth in possession and relatives’ wealth, track record of social and political work, etc.
It is very difficult to be ethical and transparent in Indian political system as the voters at large have a very short memory. Moreover, Indian politics is highly influenced by caste, religion, regionalism, language and so on. Nadda will certainly find it difficult to bring in qualitative changes in line with scrupulous and meritorious conduct.
Challenges are big and tough for Nadda but are the same time the Party has reached to an enviable height. Foundation is firmly laid down for a speedy growth of the party. Nadda needs to work sensible and seek sensible advices from party’s senior leaders and well wishers.
By Alok Chakrawal