With BJP’s grand old man now mending bridges with the saffron party’s powerful ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), meeting the latter’s chief ideologue Mohan Bhagawat and pushing the need for ‘collective leadership’ in order to consolidate the splintering National Democratic Alliance, it is imperative for the party to fall in line and gracefully accept LK Advani’s precious suggestion. Clearly, the Iron Man of BJP, whose recent resignation from all party posts and rescinding of the same after requests from all political quarters to reconsider his decision, created nationwide ripples of disruption amongst the party cadres and leaders alike, was not merely making an empty gesture borne out of petulance or inability to accept that his political stars are now shining as brightly as they used to in the past. As Advani pointed out to Bhagwat, his regret was over the hasty manner in which the BJP was rushing into decisions without engaging in across the board consultations. Narendra Modi’s coronation within the BJP has of course come at an expense with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) breaking off its 17-year-old alliance with the BJP over the obligatory issue of secularism and the Gujarat CM’s overt hardline image. On the other hand, it is also clear that BJP can now harness the cult of Modi to enthuse the rank and file of its cadres to create a groundswell of support for the Hindutva party and make electoral inroads into states which still happen to be bastions of the Congress, SP, and other parties with significant national or regional hold.
While the BJP tries to reinvent itself as the Hindutva party, falling back on its core values of religious nationalism, Narendra Modi too is refashioning himself to adjust to the overtly Hindu agenda, which exist at a tangent from erstwhile one-track development bandwagon. It is yet to be seen if Modi is trying to ‘hijack’ the throne of the Hindu hriday samrat, who also happened to be the mentor of the thrice-victorious Gujarat CM. It is obvious that Advani, and his loyalists within the party, such as Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, continue to have a major hold over the ideological and internal affairs of the saffron brigade, although the RSS, generator of their schematic kernel, has now rekindled its influence on the expressions and impressions of the BJP-led alliance, and is now gambling on the name and cult of Narendra Modi. However, it is not going to be an easy turf for either factions within the BJP to prove their dominance over the other, and it would do the party much good if they decided to present a united front instead of a fractured face that it is sporting at present. It is only through wide-ranging consultations and instituting genuine inner-party democracy that BJP can begin to hope for becoming a strong opposition and a real source of challenge to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance. Unless, the top brass of the BJP realise they should really overhaul their sagging image in public, which is, at present, banking too much on the quasi-technocratic cult of Modi, their chances of clinching 2014 will remain slim.