Rostering Ministers at the BJP Office

Published: August 04, 2014 18:10 IST
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(Nalin S Kohli is spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Director of the party's Public Policy Research Centre. He is also a lawyer and has extensive experience in media and education.)

On August 2, the BJP media cell issued a press release with a schedule confirming the availability of union ministers at the BJP Central Office beginning August 4. Prior to this, a few ministers like Ravi Shankar Prasad had addressed a press conference or had visited the party office from time to time. Starting August 4, Ministers holding key portfolios, including Mr Prakash Javadekar, Mr Piyush Goyal, Mr Dharmendra Pradhan and others are to be available at the BJP Headquarters for meeting party workers for two hours each day. (Also Watch: PM Narendra Modi as Class Monitor?)

What is the rationale behind this exercise? The relationship between a political party in government and its cadres is often a subject of intense analysis and speculation. Essentially, it is believed that a cadre of political workers relentlessly toil (sometimes over decades like the BJP) to help launch a political party into government. Thereafter, according to popular perception, once in government, the link between the government and the party cadre tends to weaken. In addition to anti-incumbency, this assumed weakening of the umbilical cord between party and government is a commonly-accepted explanation for why political entities lose popular mandate subsequently. 

However, if this were true, then how have BJP state governments in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh been re-elected for three successive terms? From the BJP's point of view, in addition to charismatic leadership and delivery of governance, a major factor that has enabled the party's repeated victory in these state elections is the presence of a large cadre of motivated karyakartas or workers. Keeping the cadre positively motivated has been made possible by maintaining live contact with them, both at the party and government levels. It is this humble karyakarta, the ordinary worker of the party who not only works at the grassroots level, but also provides feedback about public response to various initiatives of both the party and the government.

Good governance requires constant feedback from the people. The cadre is the critical link between the government and the public. One of the successes of the BJP has been to recognise the value of this link.

Prime Minister Modi values participative processes and feedback mechanisms involving the public at large. He has been credited with appreciating the potential of and extensively using social media platforms. After assuming office on 26th May, in his first official message on the Prime Minister's website, Mr Modi wrote "I envision this website as a very important medium of direct communication between us... I hope this platform creates opportunities to listen, learn and share one's views."

Exactly 60 days later, on July 26, the Government of India launched a participative 'MY GOV' platform where citizens could share ideas or even volunteer in nation-building and governance. So the social media initiatives erase the limitations of distance while members of the council of ministers get to directly interact with party workers face-to-face. Between these two initiatives, the net beneficiary is better governance or Surajya. That is the premise behind the BJP's mandate. 

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