The meeting of the BJP top brass in Goa to settle on the party’s command structure and strategy for the next general elections must occasion the deepest apprehension in the minds of those who long for a conservative, right-of-centre government. Such a change is required not only to reverse the precipitous fall in the standard of public life during the past nine years of Congress party-led coalition rule characterized by horrendous levels of corruption in all strata of government, but to give new direction to the nation desperately seeking a way out of the economic morass the country finds itself in, stressing individual effort and initiative not dole and handouts in various guises. The fact is, as Edmund Burke emphasized long ago, government that does least is best. In India, that means the government being concerned mainly with evening out the playing field for everyone. It is an aim to be primarily achieved by remedial education to pull the poor and socially disadvantaged out of the dependency cycle they are caught in and bring them merit and competence-wise up to the more advantaged lot, rather than pull the top level down as is the instincts of the state and central governments in India. Narendra Modi promises this with his signature declaration that “Government has no business to be in business” and efficient and effective system of delivery of cash and other benefits to the deserving poor (rather than tolerating, as by this government, the siphoning off in plain sight of the bulk of development and social welfare funds by politicians and petty and not so functionaries of the state).
The proverbial “fly in the ointment” is LK Advani, who is long past his sell-by date but who persists in politicking in the hope that his ambition to don the mantle of PM will somehow fall on his elderly shoulders — which chance, he calculates, may come his way by denying Narendra Modi the anointment as the BJP standard-bearer. His retinue of supporters all of them leaders with small or no mass base or popular appeal — people like Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar, independently nursing their own private ambitions. None of this augurs well for the country and shows up the extant BJP leadership as cut from the same whole cloth Congress leaders have been cut from — of serving self and family before nation.
The country has to be provided a real alternative and Advani isn’t it. But who can persuade the old man that his time is up in the context of Indian politics where the gerontocratic principle still reigns? Can one even imagine a country with average age of 25-plus in the year 2014 having Advani as PM aspirant already in the ninth decade of his life helming it, when elsewhere the leaders are going younger and have the drive and display the enthusiasms of youthfulness.