Ruination of the BJP’s Organisation in 10 Steps

James Manor

This piece was first published on The India Cable – a premium newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas – and has been republished here. To subscribe to The India Cable, click here.

This looks like a golden era for the BJP. It is enjoying a decade in power at the Centre, it governs numerous states, and the opposition is fragmented. But a close look reveals serious degeneration that casts doubt on its long-term prospects. This has been happening since 2014, but it worsened over the last year. Despite the energetic creation of booth-level party committees as elections approach, the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah management style has severely disempowered BJP activists and the party organisation can no longer link citizens with the government.

Ten steps are leading to the destruction of the BJP’s organisation.

First, national leaders have fundamentally changed the way that they seek to meet people’s needs. Initially, new programmes tightly managed from the top were implemented through the bureaucracy, depriving MLAs and BJP activists of patronage to cultivate support for themselves and the party. MLAs were denied influence over transfers of local officials, undermining their ability to meet constituents’ needs.

In the last year, programmes controlled from the top used IT systems to distribute funds and provide services, bypassing MLAs, activists and the bureaucrats they can influence. The woeful record of Aadhaar, which has often excluded needy people, raises serious doubts about such programmes. They provide no feedback on people’s problems and preferences, as the BJP organisation used to do. It blinds the PM, but he remains enchanted by IT systems, presumably because they strengthen top-down control…

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