Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh has announced the party’s core team for the coming electoral battles. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has made a comeback in the party’s highest decision- making body, Parliamentary Board, and he has also been made a member of the Central Election Committee and his close confidante Amit Shah has been made general secretary. Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi, Murlidhar Rao and Rajeev Pratap Rudi have also been elevated at general secretaries and fiery sanyasin Uma Bharati returns to the party’s national headquarters as its vice-president.
Though the team of general secretaries has a younger profile — except veteran Anantha Kumar, a majority are in their 30s and 40s — its composition reflects compromise between top leaders. Barring a few exceptions most of the office-bearers have been chosen due to their factional connections, without giving any inkling of the party’s future course of action. The RSS influence can be seen in the appointment of Murlidhar Rao, Prabhat Jha and others. In a way it can be called Modi team which has no specific agenda. The appointment of Amit Shah, who is facing serious charges, only strengthens the impression that the party leadership is not concerned with its image.
The newly appointed office-bearers have a challenging task cut out for them. Before the elections for the Lok Sabha the party has critical electoral battles ahead in state assembly elections, starting with Karnataka. It will be a mistake to assume that the Modi factor alone will enable the party to take on the Congress and its other rivals in the coming elections. Unless the BJP comes out with an alternative ideological agenda, it cannot hope to convert the growing mass disenchantment with the Congress-led UPA government to its advantage. It must convince the people that it has something better to offer and is capable of practising what it preaches. Without this, old wine in newly packaged bottles will not ensure better electoral dividends.