General Elections are closing in on India with every passing day and the outlook doesn't look at all good for the BJP. If the BJP sinks, then so does the chance of a two-party system in India. Then we'd be stuck with a Congress dictatorship for life.
Right now the Congress has 206 seats in the Lok Sabha while the BJP is way behind with 116. For the BJP to barely overtake the Congress, we'd need a swing of at least 46 seats. If the Congress would lose 46 seats, then it would be at 160. If the BJP gains 46 seats, then it would be at 162.
But merely emerging as the single-largest party may not do the trick. The SP, BSP and Left would never support the BJP. With such odds stacked against it, parties would start gravitating towards the Congress again and we could have UPA3 complete its full term.
However for even that to happen seems pretty tough. While it's quite easy for the Congress to lose 40 odd seats, it is not conceivable for the BJP to gain a similar amount of seats.
In 2009, the Congress bagged 33 seats in Andhra Pradesh. While they are set to lose most of these seats, it is the YSR Congress and TRS that will gain those seats. Further seats may go to the TDP, but not the BJP.
The BJP recently lost both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and is set to fare worse in Karnataka. It is going to struggle to get those 40 odd extra seats.
Basically it means that with the current course we are heading on, there doesn't seem to be any chance of the BJP of ever coming to power.
That means the BJP will have to do something totally different to make a comeback.
To be fair to the BJP, it has made all the right noises in the past.
When the NDA was in power, they conducted the nuclear tests and won a war to maintain popularity. Then they fought the elections on the development plank, which is much better than mandir, caste or religion.
But the BJP mysteriously lost anyway.
In 2009, again they got their act together. LK Advani emerged as a consensus candidate. He talked of corruption and black money, which became a burning issue two years later. Advani also talked of the death penalty for rapists, again something which was ahead of its times.
The BJP lost again anyway. After that they totally fell apart. There was great infighting in the party and the party couldn't take the corruption head on thanks to the likes of BS Yedyurappa in Karnataka.
Therefore the need of the hour is to do something really drastic right now.
And whether they like it or not, Chief Minister Narendra Modi is the only drastic thing they have right now.
Indian politics is heavily loaded in favour of personalities. Jawaharlal Nehru could win elections on his own. Sympathy for Indira Gandhi's assassination led to India's greatest mandate in 1984.
Sympathy for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination got the Congress a full term from 1991-96. It was also the charisma of AB Vajpayee that led to the first ever complete term for a coalition government.
At the local level also regional leaders like MG Ramachandran, Biju Patnaik, NT Rama Rao and Jyoti Basu have been one-man shows.
Right now Modi is the most popular leader in the BJP. He is probably the most popular leader across India. While his detractors say that he doesn't have much support outside his state, then how does he emerge as the most popular PM candidate in almost all the opinion polls, even from those media houses who are firmly against him?
If the BJP made Modi party president and its prime ministerial candidate, then that would energize the rank and file of the party and give the saffron party its much needed momentum.
The party could then take the issue of corruption head on and say that it had removed BSY and Nitin Gadkari and hence was serious about corruption. No matter what you say, there have not been any serious charges of corruption against Modi himself.
He would also have the standing to unite the BJP and reign in all the dissenters.
While there are some who say he would drive away a large section of the votebank, a national party with just 116 seats in the Lok Sabha has no choice but to go for broke. The decisiveness could get the BJP to gain more votes than it would lose.
That Modi will chase away allies is also a much-hyped argument. The Left, SP and BSP won't support the BJP, Modi or no Modi.
The BJP already has the unconditional support of the Shiv Sena and SAD.
If one looks at the other parties, then the following have been in the NDA at some point or the other: JD(U), BJD, ADMK, DMK, Trinamool, TRS, JMM, NC, AGP, RLD and TDP (outside support). The YSR Congress also may back the BJP.
The trick will be for the BJP to get a clear 10-15 seats more than the Congress. If that would happen, then allies would automatically start coming, for everyone wants to stay in power for 5 years.
At this stage Modi appears to be the only BJP leader who can energize all the party workers and give momentum to the party.
The party would be foolish not to put him at the centre stage in the total absence of any other options to stay afloat.
But time is running out for the BJP and they'd better make their decision fast!
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/