I wrote a couple of months back about how it was going to be interesting watching India’s Bharatiya Janata Party try and bounce back from its electoral thumping at the hands of the Congress Party last May.
Well, since then, the BJP has selected a new president, Nitin Jayaram Gadkari, who the party hopes will help it make the generational transition necessary for it to regain its footing. Fifty-two-year-old Gadkari is the youngest-ever president of the party and took over last month vowing to focus on helping the poor.
Our India contributor, veteran commentator Madhav Nalapat, is putting a piece together on the party’s recent travails. Before then, though, I asked him what has been going on with the BJP. He told me:
‘During the 1990s, it seemed as though the BJP was unstoppable. Riding on the twin waves of Hindu Pride and nationalism, the party came to power in 1998 and increased its tally of seats the next year, in the election that followed the Congress-inspired withdrawal of support to the BJP-led government by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
‘However, the party crashed to defeat in 2004, and repeated that dismal performance in 2009, despite widespread voter dissatisfaction at inflation and misgovernment of the ruling Congress-led coalition. Of late, the BJP seems confused and in danger of losing its base.’