Opinion | BJP is Not Taking Turncoats to Establish Hegemony by Emptying the Opposition, Its Project is Long-Term
Opinion | BJP is Not Taking Turncoats to Establish Hegemony by Emptying the Opposition, Its Project is Long-Term
BJP’s desire to break the 400-mark barrier isn't borne out of a ‘hegemonic impulse’ or an 'undemocratic machination' conceived to marginalise the Opposition. The idea, apparently, is part of an ongoing project to expand the party's social base

Self-appointed guardians of India’s political morality are lathered up about what they believe is a BJP plot to rid India of the Opposition. This dark augury has been apparently triggered by the migration of political leaders or ‘defectors’ to the BJP.

Now, no election has ever been complete without this poll season floor crossing.  The switcheroo of netas is about as guaranteed as the annual febrile Wildebeest river-crossing in the Serengeti. And therefore, almost no dark undertones are usually ascribed to promiscuous party hoppers. At least not until now.

This election however, the Opposition and some of its cheerleaders have begun referring to opportunists as political hostages:  The veritable hijack of allegedly under duress Opposition leaders corralled into the BJP’s pen by the ‘menacing’ Enforcement Directorate.

One peripatetic academic from the Opposition ecosystem has noted this phenomenon with unrestrained ‘fascination’.

A sort of study in the NDA’s commander-in-chief’s ‘obsession’ of ‘asserting power’ to allegedly realise his goal of an ‘Opposition mukt Bharat by relying on despotic means’.

To underline the point, the academic has undertaken some ‘research’ to total up the number of turncoats fielded by the BJP. His labours have led him to claim that ED ‘harried defectors’ ostensibly make up almost 30 per cent of the BJP’s candidates.

A closer examination of this so-called data-driven conclusion exposes infirmities. The research, it turns out, isn’t painstaking after all. Some of the ‘defectors’ in the list of the 30 per cent that are contesting on the BJP ticket have crossed over well before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and are already established BJP notables. Others have done so with no other inducement than the assurance of a ticket. At worst, these political migrants are guilty of being turncoats. Only a handful, it could be conjectured, joined the BJP because the ‘Orwellian ED’ is bearing down on them.

It is true that Prime Minister Modi has set the NDA’s election managers the stiff target of winning 400 Lok Sabha seats. That means the NDA will have to win approximately 3 out of 4 seats in the fray. But as one BJP MP pointed out, this desire to break the 400-mark barrier isn’t borne out of a ‘hegemonic impulse’ or an ‘undemocratic machination’ conceived to marginalise the Opposition. The idea, apparently, is part of an ongoing project to expand the party’s social base and extend its ideological frontiers. An election is not just about numbers.

To achieve the target set by Prime Minister Modi, the BJP will have to ensure that its ideology appeals to locals in regions where it has had almost no presence and therefore no prospects. The east and large swathes of the south have remained frustratingly indifferent to the BJP’s Hindutva nationalism. Naturally, the BJP is in the electoral market, as it were, shopping around for recruits who wield influence across ‘un’saffronised shores.

The summary characterisation of the BJP’s strategy to enlist new talent as a ‘hijack of the Opposition’ does a disservice to the idea of democratic free will and assertion.

Throughout Bharat’s political history, parties have split, merged, and emerged renewed to keep pace with the changing aspirations of voters. Their founders and constituents have crossed the aisle to transcend seemingly immutable caste and ideological fault lines to stay relevant. So many before the BJP have ‘socially engineered’ themselves to become greater or more niche than when they started out.

As the BJP grows and becomes (if it isn’t already) the default party of governance, it will have to embrace a wider array of cultural philosophies and social identities to stay in the electoral hunt. Its message will also have to be tweaked. India’s principal Opposition party – the Congress – is floundering on this score. Its centre is not holding up because it isn’t bound by a credible leader with mass appeal or an electorally marketable idea.

Parties that have failed to diversify their message and their morphology have atrophied. ‘Defectors’ are quite often the first to know.

Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect News18’s views.

What's your reaction?



0 comment

Write the first comment for this!