By the virtue of its ideological strength and rich tradition, the BJP has retained its connection with the masses and is driving positive societal transformation.
The BJP’s National Executive met after almost two years. The challenging pandemic situation necessitated this interval. During this period the Party’s focus and energies were directed towards tackling the effects and impact of the pandemic among the people. At a time when most parties had either got into a self-quarantine mode or were preoccupied with flying kites of misinformation, the Bharatiya Janata Party had initiated one of the largest relief outreaches that had been undertaken by any political party during a crisis of this magnitude. In his valedictory address to the BJP’s NEC, Prime Minister Modi, referring to this nineteen months period, called it the Party’s best period, when against an adversary which it did not know, could not comprehend, which it confronted for the first time, the Party continued to serve people and alleviate its impact.
The fact that a party’s principal forums meet, deliberate and ideate on issues, achievements and challenges, reaffirms its core founding ideals, renews its ideological line and maintains a dynamic interest and robust political will at regular intervals is an indicator of its inherent ideological strength, its commitment to furthering its essence and of its overall political and organisational health. The meet reminded one of Deendayal Upadhyaya’s observations, made in the early years of the Jana Sangh, when he wrote that ‘Any progressive organisation will and must pass through the process of change, but its fundamentals never change.’
The BJP has been able to effectively adhere to this adage. This was primarily because, as PM Modi said, ‘we are not an individual-centric, dynasty based party, we are a ‘Parampara Adharit’ – a party which is based on and sustained by traditions, we have lived through and struggled for establishing a certain thought, ideal and ideology.’ Besides the political resolution passed in the meet, the discussion over it, the amendments and insertions suggested, the NEC meet had some very interesting dimensions. To the observer in search of the deeper drivers of political parties, these come across as significant.
The BJP’s latest outreach, initiated by PM Modi himself, ‘Kamal Pushp’ is in itself a unique effort to link and revivify the threads of tradition, continuity and contribution in the Party. PM Modi spoke on it at length, explained its deeper necessity, called on all those present to actively work on it by fanning out across their respective areas and connect with those who have contributed to the growth of the party in the past, since its early days, have struggled to keep the flag aloft through its most challenging phases and to document their contributions. These will not only serve to give an idea of the base that was built for our political movement by struggling generations but will also connect the present to them. ‘We stand on the ground prepared by them, today we are here, it is because of their past toils’, he said while reminiscing of his own close association with some of them.
An important exercise was the release of books focusing on different aspects of the Modi government’s achievement. In this case, the immediate being India’s historic intervention at COP26 and the robust state of the economy. Not only were the books released, but each of them was also discussed by a senior leader or minister and the members gathered were exhorted to include, in their daily work, some time to reflect and read these and organise, every month informed and instructive deliberations on such achievements. The formation of libraries in every BJP office across the state in the past years and now this emphasis on the need to develop informed opinions and articulations so as to drive the narrative and set the agenda was significant.
The fact that Prime Minister Modi came and stayed throughout the deliberations – a thing he has been doing for decades – participated and intervened, stayed put till the end of the meet, skipping lunch like all the other delegates, is an unmistakable indicator of connectedness that the Party continues to exude. There was nothing customary about the whole approach; rather it was involved and innate.
At a time when most parties have no clear ideological line and have been unable to articulate one, when most parties, with perhaps the exception of the communist parties, are either individual and dynasty driven and based and have no regularity in their structural functioning, when most of them exude a certain lethargy in their public outreach, lack a creative political functioning and an assertive will to implement organisational programmes, the BJP stands apart in its display of all of these attributes. That the Party has been successful in repositioning its focus and action, being a party in power, has been its single biggest achievement in the last eight years. As PM Modi observed, the biggest challenge for a party in power is on what to do in terms of public activities and outreach, and yet the BJP has scripted a new history in being variedly active and most effective in ‘Seva.’ There has been complacency in the Party in all these years of being in power.
PM Modi’s address reminded one of the descriptions of the ‘Abhyasvargas’ – a tradition in the Party since the days of Jana Sangh and usually led and conducted in the past by stalwarts such as Deendayal Upadhyaya. PM Modi’s address focused on those dimensions that sustain, maintain and lubricate a political movement and enable it to continue being an entity that retains the capacity and power of self-renewal.
As an ordinary worker, if one were to internalise PM Modi’s address at the NEC meet, there were four major takeaways: one, was to look at ourselves as a Party with a mission to free India forever from a mentality of imitation, of being an appendage and slavery, two, beyond the trappings and heavy exigencies and demands of politics and political action, it was imperative to explore and undertake activities and initiate work for positive transformation in society. Many are doing it amongst us, he said, these need to be amplified, shared and expanded, three, is the need to maintain a vibrant and fulfilling sense of belongingness, this is the life and lubrication of an organisation. Organisations that have lost this have got dislocated and have lost track, four, the need for each of us was to emerge as ‘bridges of faith’ with the people, it is this which will continue and lend greater momentum to the process of a comprehensive and integral transformation now taking place in India.
In an address marked with a number of nuggets and perspectives, each of which perhaps requires a column to extrapolate, was PM Modi’s assertion that between his thinking and his country’s thinking there was no difference, ‘perhaps I imbibed such a perspective, through my wanderings across India over many years, there is no district which I have not visited and absorbed from…We are those who are connected to the soil, our experience is through life itself.’
To become tributary bridges of faith then, to this principle ‘Bridge of Faith’, is the primary task before each constituent of this mighty political flow and movement.
(The writer is a member of National Executive Committee (NEC), BJP, and the Director of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation. Views expressed are personal.)