Monday, April 30, 2012

"Wake Up BJP" : An Open Letter to Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari
National President, Bharatiya Janata Party
13, Teen Murti Lane, New Delhi - 110011
Cell: +91 9821080522
Tel: 91 - 11- 23011027
Fax: 91 - 11- 23013027

The Friends of BJP on Social Networks.

Dear Nitin Gadkari ji,
  Namaskaar. This is a friendly letter from the social media friends of Bharatiya Janata party. We hope you are having a few minutes to read this important letter from people, who might still be fairly low on the hierarchy of voices that might be reaching you.

Why are we writing this to you? Because in simple terms, we genuinely care for the ideology Sangh Parivar stands for, the bright future India deserves, and most importantly, to give a fresh set of ideas to a party that claims to represent the "Bharatiyata", the core of India.

So what is in this letter that you don't hear from top level think tanks and strategists surrounding you? We think there's a lot. The suggestions might sound ordinary at times, but this is unpaid and unforced section of Young India speaking to you. A country where almost 2/3rd of the population is below the age of 35, their opinion is what is showing up in most of this letter. It would be your final judgment of course to take it or leave it, but just remember...these are the people who can make or break a large part of internet literate segment of 2014 voters of BJP.

So here we start, in no particular order:

1> Counter Attack: Turn back the clock a couple of months. Every news channel was on BJP's 'porngate' episode. Congress was conducting road show after road show, totally taking this negative publicity of BJP to masses. But what did BJP do when the infamous Abhishek Manu Singhvi CD came out? Yes, there were some restrictions he cleverly managed from court. But the entire social media knew what was happening. This was 100 times more serious a issue for the nation considering who and where parts. Did BJP take this in a big way to the masses? Did they conduct road shows? Did they make sure this is a big topic for news debates or editorials? In terms of intensity, BJP failed miserably we should say. Even for a seemingly fake case like Gujarat assembly porn watch, far more damage was done by anti-BJP forces at ground level. So sir, just eloquent parliament speeches can only go so far. BJP as a party is squandering serious opportunities like Rajbala's death during Ramdev's camp's midnight crackdown, AMS tape, ND Tiwari paternity case and Maderna case. No one is suggesting to hit below the belt or send un-parliamentary messages. But at least counter attack decently to get the core issue to the potential voters.

2> Scams and Propaganda: 2004-2012 must have been India's worst scam period. Majority of these scams are undoubtedly due to Congress party's misrule and their hapless "coalition dharma". Social media is well versed with details of CWG, President's land issues, 2G, Bofors, Coal gate, Karnataka Wakf Scam, Andhra Pradesh scams involving YSR family, Land grabbing in a number of Congress ruled states, Haryana land scam involving a reputed dynasty foundation, Mining frauds involving non-BJP ruled states and much more. How effective has been BJP here? When Congress has succeeded in equating Mining Scam = BJP, due to sustained propaganda, where is the PR arm of BJP? How much of the RTI support group muscle has BJP used till date? In states like Karnataka, where you have your own government, how many went to prison for Wakf Scam kind of massive loot? Yes, most people know that Congress is involved in these big scams, but where are the resignations? How many tainted CMs like Sheila Dikshit or their Ministers at state levels have quit? How many central ministers went on jail due to BJP's sustained efforts? Minuscule we must say. Yes, sir, as a principal opposition party, you can do a LOT better!

3> Media Management: If you have not grabbed this info by now, sir, electronic media for most part is termed as "paid media" in social media discussions. It's almost a synonym today. Such is the poor image and credibility of India's TV channels. One of the key reason being their rabid anti-Hindu propaganda and in particular anti-Sangh or anti-BJP propaganda. You can go through Karnataka Bhagavad Gita episode, UP's Sushma Swaraj and Mayawati "heartless" episode, or Delhi court's Mohan Bhagwat's Karkare episode. Media has been ruthless and loud in defaming BJP at every given opportunity. Most of the times, they get caught on social media like Twitter, Blogs and Facebook. But has BJP used that info? If yes, how effectively? When Karnataka Bhagavad Gita Abhiyana was projected as a state sponsored episode, why didn't BJP seek legal course against a prominent media house to prevent such recurrences in the future? When a TV program insulted 5 crore Gujaratis as "traditionally effete people" showing Narendra Modi's visuals, where was the noise from BJP? When Sushma Swaraj was misinterpreted, why didn't BJP seek a public apology from another media house? When lies are propagated that 2002 was India's worst minority dead-body count, why is BJP not talking about the unfortunate Nellie massacre from 1983 to give the truth to people?

Not countering the negative and baseless propaganda is hurting BJP, and also not projecting the pro-BJP news items. For example, many Christian candidates winning in Goa under Manohar Parrikar's leadership should have been a serious topic of discussion when it involves a "Hindutva" party per media created image. How come your strategists, friendly aspects in media and foot soldiers didn't take that to millions of homes?  When Karnataka chose its latest CM via secret ballot, that could have been projected as a US style primary, instead of what media projected as "puppet" selection. Where is the credit for superbly implementing Bengaluru Metro? How about Narmada canal wonders? How many even remember today driving on Golden Quadrilateral that it was Vajpayee's government that did wonders? Where are the positives from Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh etc.? Web based Yuvai TV is a good initiative by some energetic individuals, but you have miles to run before you can catch-up anywhere closer to the grip anti-BJP ideology has on Indian print and electronic media. The media which gave serious negative publicity to one unverified Varun Gandhi speech, never did even 1% of that damage to Congress for a veteran Congress leader Kagodu Thimmappa's "cut Hindutva hands" hate speech.

Sir, in short, you need huge efforts on media management side. Own media houses, manage current media houses and work on creating a pro-Sangh alliance of broadcasting outlets. This is easier said than done, but you might not be gauging the ripple effect of negative publicity, day-in and day-out.

4> Image Makeover: Sorry to say this Mr.Gadkari, many in the young India we interact with, perceive BJP today mostly as a "B team of Congress". Per social media, the true opposition in India today are: a) Supreme Court. b) Social Media. c) Subramanian Swamy. The "3S Opposition" to be put it that way:) That's a serious problem you need to work on. Congress talks of secularism, you also do it now. Congress talks of socialistic populism, you also talk the same. Congress talks half-heartedly about Lokpal & other watch dogs, and you also do the same. Congress is a High Command driven decision making system, and you are also the same now. Congress talks of reservation, and you do that too. Congress talks of growth and you too do that. We understand that many of these are political compulsions. But where is the difference for a casual observer? The difference was evident 22 years back, but not anymore! You should be able to convey to a 22 year old voter, "what is BJP" and "how is is different from Congress" in 5 to 10 sentences. Can you do it sir?

More importantly, not just saying why BJP is "different". But living by that policy at all states that BJP is ruling, is far more important. If you stand for Lokpal, implement good Lokayukta policies across your ruled states. If you stand by for anti-cow-slaughter, then legally push the Governors who are becoming impediment for the same.

5> Projection of a PM Candidate: BJP is a democratic party, so there is always an opening for dissent or healthy competition. This is a great difference compared to a dynasty centric sycophantic setup on the Congress side. But since we have less than 18 months for campaigning to start for 2014 elections, you need to project your PM candidate soon. Project candidates for all key positions like Home, Law, Deputy PM (if any), Party Office bearers openly and clearly. Clarity is most important here, in spite of the inherent risks involved in projecting earlier. There's always a chance of polarization of the voters, but without a projection, BJP will be playing into the hands of Congress and media's negative speculations. We wish to inform you that the popular names for top positions on the social media are Narendra Modi and Subramanian Swamy for quite some time. Those two are more popular with young Indians than any of your Delhi based senior leadership. You can run online polls or surveys to feel the pulse better yourself.

6> Standing for Party Loyalists: Bangaru Laxman was in news, albeit negatively, last week. We are not suggesting to protect any corrupt or wrong-doer. But many voices on social network suggested that he was unfairly trapped, when he had no decision making capability as a minister or anything... worse, he seemingly offered a receipt too. Where was BJP's defence for him? Did you see how Congress stood behind P Chidambaram and SM Krishna when they have much worse charges? Did you forget that "Dalit" card is very powerful in India? To take this topic a step further, lots of people in young India feel that BJP has resorted to use and throw policy over the past few years. Kalyan Singh, BS Yeddyurappa, Uma Bharati, Vasundhara Raje, BC Khanduri are some examples of mass leaders who are either sidelined or under-utilized by BJP today. What we, on the social network feel, is that your party pays too much attention to what pro-Congress media plays out about your leaders. As a result, you are quick to succumb to media pressure or Congress propaganda. What you might not be realizing sir is that, you are getting trapped in their strategy to strip BJP off its mass leaders, the people who can win states on their shoulders. Yes, there will be charges against them, but you need to balance the "party with a difference" tag with "Indian rules that everyone else plays with". Hope you get our message. One of the loudest criticism of BJP's top 4 or 5 leaders today at Delhi, is that, they hardly can win any states with their strategy or charm or mass appeal. Don't get us wrong for this criticism. Ponder upon, why people are saying that.

By the way, if your party was sleeping, Sonia Gandhi, the UPA chairperson, was shown with up to $19 billion as assets by an influential Business Insider magazine. This is against just a crore or two of declared assets by the same person. Some quick maths indicate that that amount may be almost a crore TIMES bigger than Bangaru Laxman's amount in question. Yes, one crore times nearly sir.. Hope you ponder more on a huge missed opportunity!

7> Legal Muscle:  Who doesn't know Subramanian Swamy? Of course everyone knows this one man show, in the name of Janata party from Tamil Nadu. But here is the scoop. Have you wondered how a party, with zero MLAs and zero MPs in India, is almost bringing the mighty Congress empire to its knees via legal muscle? On the other side, BJP, a party with celebrity lawyers, has not done anything substantial to get this government on its knees. Be it CWG, or 2G or any scam worth its name, BJP lawyers are not fighting to give a fatal blow to any key minister of Congress. In fact, hush-hush talk on social media suggests that some key lawyers might even have worked in favour of some accused on the Congress roaster. Serious problem sir.. Take a deep breath and analyze the situation as well as the perception.

8> "Bharatiya" issues: We know that BJP is strongly for Kashmir pandits's return rights, hanging of anti-nationals like Kasab & Afzal, deportation of Bangladeshi infiltrators, bringing North East people to mainstream, among other sensitive but important topics. But sir, you can do far better. RSS has the world's largest grass root presence. Millions of volunteers are available to take the Bharatiyata message to lakhs of villages through them. In spite of them, if BJP is not able to educate an average Indian about the massive security & integration risks, resulting out of votebank politics. A simple example. Till earlier this year, most of us didn't even know about the plight of Hindu refugees from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Now when we hear the separatist views highlighted on English channels, we see the hypocrisy of sidelining the SC/ST Hindu plight in Jammu's refugee camps. Please work on the Bharatiya issues aggressively taking sincere help from the cadres.

9> Alliance in Key States: Many of us view the same sentiments here. There are over 240 Lok Sabha seats in TN, AP, WB,  Kerala,  Odisa and UP. That's just under 30 seats to half way of Indian parliament's lower house. Where are the allies of BJP here? If an election is held today, will BJP be able to win even 20% of these crucial seats? Without them, how can you dream of 2014? Congress has almost given 2014 to BJP on platter via a corrupt and inept regime. We are sure you have serious strategists working with you on this topic, but we just thought, we inform you nearly 2 years before the next scheduled election, as we see very little on the ground in these states.

10> Not wasting time: If you ever open a Twitter account and seek opinion on how to improve BJP's chances, we guarantee, this topic will come up. This particular topic is from those who are frustrated with BJP's recent attempts to portray itself as secular. The message from them to you is that you should focus on your Core Ideology. India is secular because Hindus are mostly secular. That's the truth. Take more advice from the super successful undercurrent of Indian society, the RSS. For many people like us, BJP is just one major project of the Sangh Parivar, among the 1,60,000 Bharatiya projects they have! Don't feel bad, but that's how young India that we interact with perceives your party. So don't ever cut the umbilical chord with the ideological nerve center.

BJP needs to first convince 82% of Indians, who are Hindus of all segments and castes, that it is their best hope. That's a huge challenge considering 64 years of systematic division of Hindu votes into innumerable caste and language vote categories. If you can manage to unite them, rest will fall in place. Your portrayal of Rama Rajya or Hindu Rashtra has been severely distorted as "Hindus Only" India by your detractors. We know that's not the case, but you have to do a stellar job selling that to your potential voters. We know on social media that Congress is severely "Minority first" ideology right from Khilafat movement days 92 years back. There's nothing surprising at all to a careful observers. But it's a joke that they can stand in public and term BJP as communal and claim themselves as Secular. This is even after Shah Bano or UP Muslim communal reservation speeches. This is where BJP failed big time. Correction time now! Primarily being pro-Hindu or standing for Hindu human rights, does NOT mean, being anti-Muslim or anti-Minority. Every country has major parties catering to the majority's wishes and aspirations. Opposing minority appeasement like massive (and un-Islamic) Hajj subsidy, is not opposing minority rights. Narendra Modi's all-inclusive development is just one example you can use with facts and figures, minus any rhetoric.

11> Engaging with Digital World: Social media may be in its infancy in India, but sir, let us assure you, it has already cut some major victories. Radia tapes were discussed by mainstream media due to social media pressure. Various riots were even reported because of social media trends. Numerous shady scams and shady acts like AMS CD, came out due to buzz on social media. BJP needs to use this nascent opportunity, like the successful Subramanian Swamy, via Tweeple conferences and weekly online chats to feel the pulse. This can also be used immensely to perpetuate the superb development efforts of various BJP state governments. We might be a few million on web today, and no way comparable to the 100s of millions in rural India, but the trend from here can only be one-directional. More strength to social media and we hope you become an early conqueror of this open space. As a first step, you can also instruct your IT cells to get key digests of social media's political topics, and circulate the gist among the decision makers of the party. We assure you, there's immense information out on Twitter, blogs and Facebook, that you can win any issue in a debate tomorrow! Encourage all your key leaders and parliamentarians to be on social media, and truly engage with the people when time permits. Most importantly, listen to BJP supporters and sympathizers, when they criticize your policies, instead of blocking them to shut their voice.

We hope you read till here, and more importantly realized WHY we are writing this open letter to you. Now please act precisely and in a timely fashion. You know it and we know it... the ONLY party in India today, that can win 3 digit Lok Sabha seats other than Congress, is BJP. Don't let down the folks opposing Congress..for India's sake!

- Signing off with a loud "Vande Mataram"
Your Social Media Friends.

PS: Read comments below for more from online friends on the same topic.