The reorganization of the top party positions in BJP has raised several debates. As expected, Mr Narendra Modi has been inducted into the party’s Parliamentary Board and the Election Campaign Committee.

BJP will however continue to debate if they have to project Mr Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate or wait until the election is over. The choice may depend on the importance that they accord to Mr Nitish Kumar’s views.

It is clear that Mr Nitish Kumar has his own ambitions of being the PM and may also not hesitate to join the UPA after the elections. He is therefore not a dependable ally for whom BJP should sacrifice contesting all seats in Bihar. Afterall if BJP does not on its own able to win at least 200 Loksabha seats, any alliance with Mr Nitish Kumar (if it persists) is of no use.

BJP  needs to therefore take the plunge and go wholeheartedly with Mr Modi as the declared candidate for the next election and let Mr Nitish drift to the Congress before the elections if he so choses. This would enable BJP to contest more seats in Bihar and compensate for the inevitable losses they may suffer in states like Karnataka which has been mis-managed.

Mr Modi is one such person who has the probability of even sweeping the elections and taking BJP to 200 and beyond. By choosing anybody else or dithering over the inevitable decision, BJP will only weaken its electoral chances.

If BJP can take a decision right now about Mr Modi leading in the next Loksabha elections, it may also have a positive impact for BJP in Karnataka in the elections which are due as early as May 2013.

It is of course to be recognized that BJP in Karnataka is in such a mess that even the Modi magic may not be sufficient to revive its prospects unless the party opts for a completely new image and ruthlessly sideline most of the current leaders who have been responsible for BJP getting a “Corrupt” and “Caste Based” image.

Strategically speaking, the “Corrupt” image can be combated because Mr Yeddyurappa and his supporters are now out of BJP. But the current leadership has to explain why they allowed persons who were working for KJP were allowed to remain as ministers until recently. Hence “Weak Governance” would be an image that will stick to Mr Shettar’s team which is also hailed as the “Lingayat supported team”. If BJP goes to polls with this image, it is not clear if they are able to compete even with JDS let alone Congress.

In the caste equations, Gowdas will be with JDS, Backwards and Muslims will be with Congress and Lingayat majority would be with KJP. BJP will not be able to gain on any caste combinations.

If Mr Modi  takes over responsibility for the future of BJP, he has to decide if he wants to just give up Karnataka for the time being and try to let the anti incumbency sentiment dissipate during the assembly elections so that Loksabha campaign can be started on a clean slate.

The other option is to have faith in the Modi’s “Good Governance” image and try to salvage some reputation during the current election.

If the second option has to be tried then there is a definite need to project Modi as the future leader straight away because,  he may not have credibility in the campaign if he asks for votes only in the capacity  as a “Chief Minister of another State”.

Additionally, if he takes the leadership of Karnataka elections, Mr Modi should be able to demonstrate  that he will make a total change in the BJP set up here and one main requirement would therefore be to project a new leader for the State.

It is good that Mr D V Sadananda Gowda will be in an important position in the central BJP  administration and this should help in salvaging some support from his community though “Community based campaign” should be completely done away with. However since he was also in the CM’s chair recently, he cannot be projected again as the next CM without raising a revolt from others.

Modi should show during the campaign that being a Gowda or a Lingayat or a Backward is no criteria to project a leader or to seek voter’s support. By taking such a stand BJP would be weakening the campaign of JDS, KJP and also Congress.

To prove this “Community Neutrality” of the new BJP, Modi should chose a leader solely for the “administrative capability” unmindful of the caste or religion to which he may belong.

It is only through this twin strategies of “Modi as the future national leader” and an “able administrator in Karnataka to be the CM candidate” that BJP can salvage some respect in Karnataka.

Such a leader should also have a clean non corrupt image as otherwise city voters would gravitate towards parties such as Loksatta just to show their displeasure of all other political parties.

Will Mr Narendra Modi be able to find such a leader?

Will Mr Modi be allowed to assume the leadership?

……This will determine if BJP will win 115 assembly seats and rule the state or win about 30 seats and sit in the back benches of the opposition.

Since the candidate’s lists are already being announced there is virtually no time for any serious thinking on the matter and if therefore no decision can be taken by BJP in this regard in the next day or two, it may be better for Mr Modi to remain in the background and let the Karnataka election pass before he takes a more active plunge into the national scene.

Vijayashankar

As a Voter of Karnataka

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