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Does BJP lack talent? Part 1

This is for the first time, and in series of article for this tabloid, I’m raising my voice. In this three part series, I will try to highlight some of the good and bad of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Recently, when former MP and cricketer Chetan Chauhan was appointed as NIFT Chairman, it caused a lot of uproar. Questions were asked about the rationale behind the move. Social media was abuzz with jokes about imminent elevation of Chetan Bhagat as the next RBI Governor and Anupam Kher as ISRO Chairman.

However, jokes apart, it’s an important question – whether BJP really had such dearth of talent that it could not fill important posts with right, capable individuals? Similar questions were raised earlier also when Gajendra Chauhan was appointed as FTII chairperson and Pahlaj Nihlani as a head of the CBFC. Moreover, since this government in the centre, there have been many allegations that BJP is filling government posts with mediocres.  Even inside the party, voices have been raised on the appointment of some party functionaries who are anything but not capable.

So, has BJP run out of talent?

Definitely not! In fact, the question itself is ironic because traditionally, BJP has been known to be a party that attracts talent. Intellectuals and talented people from different walks of life always get drawn towards the party. If somebody closely looks at BJP’s support base then they will notice that educated class leans towards BJP. That’s why, you will see wide-spread support for BJP among academicians, lawyers and wealthy educated middle-class. A visit to almost all top institutions (except probably Left-leaning JNU) will reveal support for BJP amongst the students and professors alike. And, it’s an open secret that majority of super successful, talented NRIs root for BJP.

So, if there is pro-BJP amongst intelligentsia then why is the party not finding the right candidate for the right job? Definitely, there is no dearth of good, talented and capable people to fill Government or party posts.

Actually, the question here itself is wrong. The question should not be – ‘Does BJP lack talent?’ Rather it should be – ‘Does BJP ignore talent?’

The question becomes pertinent in the backdrop of many incidents in the recent past wherein the top state leaders or even CMs have been hand-picked by the party High Command (a’ la Congress) ignoring veterans and experienced contenders. Earlier this year, when a new state president was chosen in Odisha, ignoring the claims of many worthies especially the ones with non-RSS background, questions were raised whether the party was deliberately ignoring the talent or it was because the politicians not in khaki half-pant and black cap had no future in BJP? Was the preference given only to people having association with RSS and not to talent and experience from outside the ‘pariwar’ circles?

Here, lies a part of the answer.

In effect, there are three reasons behind BJP’s much publicized conundrum of talent shortage. Here, I will explain the first reason and the next two in next part of the series. The first one is pertaining to BJP and the other applies to all political parties and the third reason points to intellectuals and their rather inflated egos.

The first reason, as hinted above, is the apparent near complete take-over of BJP by RSS. It is alleged that almost every party posts are now filled with people with ‘Sangh’ background. Those with non-Sangh background – barring the exception where they have patrons like FM Arun Jaitly or PM Modi himself, stand virtually no chance to get anywhere in the party. The story is similar in the government. One can clearly make out that who is from whose camp. Today, an intellectual and talented person is one who is either a right-winger from Sangh-pariwar or affiliated organizations or from Sangh-nurtured Ram Madhav controlled think-tank ‘India-Foundation’. Anyone who is a part of this little-known-outside-party-circle Foundation is assured of a coveted post or at least a few foreign junkets at party’s expense if not at the government’s. There does not seem to be a place for non-RSS right-wingers and nationalists anywhere.

No wonder, a large number of leaders and workers who joined the BJP before the 2009 or 2014 general elections and do not regularly maintain contact with RSS are now worried about their future in the party. On its part, the party seems to have forgotten that it got the support from every strata of the society and not just the RSS cadre.

Anupam Trivedi

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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