Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari seems to be keen on professionalising the party and introducing the concept of accountability, found completely lacking in the system.
Coming as he does from cosmopolitan Mumbai, which does have a work ethic, the new party chief seems to be of the view that while good workers and leaders — even at the level of MP and MLA — who work diligently often find themselves ignored when it comes to distribution of posts or offices, those who do not fulfil the responsibility given to them are none the worse for it.
“A kind of performance audit” is what Mr. Gadkari may introduce, those close to him say. “This may take some time, but it will be done.” There are MPs or MLAs, for instance, who are never heard in Parliament or Assemblies. For that matter, they may be rarely seen for, mostly they remain absentee legislators. But often there is none to question them. And, similarly, good work by MPs and MLAs has often gone unnoticed. “There has to be a system of reward for good work done,” an influential person said.
The BJP may have pooh-poohed the higher average growth rates recorded during the five years of the United Progressive Alliance rule from 2004 to 2009, but it seems Mr. Gadkari is a man who believes in development through higher GDP figures. At a recent meeting of the Chief Ministers and Finance Ministers from the BJP-ruled States, Mr. Gadkari made it a point to compare the GDPs achieved and asked why the performance was not better.
But, perhaps, the most difficult task before him would be to “re-package” the party’s ideology in a more contemporary idiom. Loss of the urban middle-class vote in the last Lok Sabha elections has forced the BJP to do some hard thinking on how to make its ideology forward-looking instead of always harking back to a past some 1,000 years or more.
With Mr. Gadkari still to announce his new team of office-bearers and draw up the list of members of the new National Executive Committee, a large number of party leaders and workers, big and small, are meeting him or waiting to meet him. Apparently he has already met some 3,000 to 4,000 party leaders and workers individually and these interactions will continue till mid-February.
He is expected to throw his net wide, to include Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members, for finding his team members.
The new team is expected to be announced in March, a couple of weeks after his “election” as party president is ratified by the National Council meeting in Indore in the third week of February.
Before that, around February 8, the process of his “election” will be completed when nomination forms in his favour are submitted to returning officer Thawarchand Gehlot.
As all the nomination papers are expected to be in his favour, he would be declared elected unopposed. Ever since the BJP was founded in 1980, there has not been even a single case of contested election for the post of party president. The election is pre-determined.
Already Mr. Gadkari has let it be known that he does not want leaders to become Delhi-centric, with their politics confined to ‘politicking’ around the capital. He wants “leaders” or would-be general secretaries to be prepared to travel for at least 10 days a month to gauge what is happening in the States and the countryside and get their ear to the ground.