Online Classes :- Current Affairs Part-3

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Missing middle: Gorakhpur and Phulpur defeats call for introspection by BJP

BJP’s surprise loss in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls in UP and its inability to wrest the Araria seat in Bihar have led to calls for introspection within the party. Hitherto the BJP electoral machinery seemed unstoppable, as recently exemplified by the party’s storming of the Left bastion of Tripura. Thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal charisma and BJP president Amit Shah’s electoral management, state after state has witnessed BJP’s lotus bloom. Against this backdrop, the loss of Gorakhpur and Phulpur – seats vacated by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya – is stunning.

While a range of factors can be cited for the bypoll results – from poor selection of candidates by BJP to the unexpected coming together of Samajwadi Party and BSP – a key structural issue has surfaced. There’s no denying that the Modi-Shah duo at the top of BJP hierarchy has brought the party a huge measure of electoral success. And a large army of foot soldiers, cadre and sympathisers furnish it with a good ground game as well. But something is missing in the middle.

Modi and Shah may be relentless campaigners but they can’t be everywhere for every poll and bypoll. However, in recent bypolls in Rajasthan and UP, and even in the case of Gujarat assembly elections where Congress gave BJP a scare in its bastion, the latter’s state machinery and second-level leadership haven’t really fired. This may be linked to decision-making within the party having become top down; as a result, over the last four years BJP hasn’t done a great job of fostering a viable second rung of leadership. BJP chief ministers have become nothing more than central appointees. While the Modi-Shah duo might think this is necessary to enforce internal party discipline and maintain uniformity in campaign messaging, the top down approach also makes it difficult to discern signals coming from ground level.

A huge and diverse country like India can’t be run by a centralised model. Related is the issue of divergence between the government’s rhetoric and delivery on the ground; the latter can only be through more capable local leaders and ministers, who are in full and free communication with the top. The secret sauce of good leadership is delegation, and to the right people – this might be what is lacking in BJP’s current recipe.

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