Possibly the last meeting of the BJP’s political agenda setting body — the national executive — before the 2019 elections should have given some insight into the party’s battle plans, especially the broad areas of its thrust. Yet, what was disclosed to the media after a closed-door meet was along the lines of previous national executive meetings: continuing political supremacy of PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah with an acquiescent second-rung leadership happy to go along with what it considers an unbeatable combination. What is lost sight of is that the BJP’s formal structures are showing signs of being overlooked. This meeting was convened after a year as against the party’s constitutional mandate of holding one once every three months while the national council hasn’t met even once in the last two years.
As Shah and PM Modi bump up their reliance on informal structures, they may have felt little need to thrash out policy bumps at the national executive. As a result, the people have been none the wiser about the steady inroads of high petrol and diesel prices into their monthly budgets. Neither is the country clear about the party’s approach to impending crises points — upper caste resistance to reservation and amendments to the SC\ST Act.
The broadsides against the Opposition have the familiar ring of soap box oratory. The postponement of organisational elections till after the 2019 polls and mere name-calling of the mahagathbandhan suggest that the BJP’s high command will be using some other forum to search for strategies to gear up to the prospects of Opposition unity. The political dice has so far landed in Modi-Shah’s favour. But hubris seems to be making an appearance when Amit Shah claims that nobody will be able to remove the BJP for 50 years. Or that the ‘fragrance’ of Modi’s rule is enough to lift the BJP’s boat in 2019. More than the ‘shameless and directionless’ Opposition, the BJP top brass must remain vigilant against tripping over disproportionate self-confidence.