Monday, June 8, 2009


A warship stranded in the high seas, sails torn, engines seized, oars broken, rudder gone, GPS knocked out, the old Captain rendered hors de combat and a dejected crew quite clueless about what to do next. This is the picture that comes to mind when one thinks of the state that the BJP finds itself in after the recent Lok Sabha elections.

When IPS (Indian Political Ship) BJP, was under construction, its designers thought they were building a futuristic platform equipped with state-of-the-art weapon and propulsion systems needed to take on and defeat enemy warships by unmatched maneuvering ability and firepower. A well-trained crew, led by an astute Captain, was also placed on board to maximise the impact of this game-changing vessel. Initially, the impact was dramatic, and there were many spectacular victories that put fear and despondency into the hearts of the BJP's opponents.

As others quickly geared up to spruce up their old weapons and tactics and ganged up to stall the journey of this great ship, its designers panicked. The design was too rigid and exclusive, many said, adding that it was a mistake to have ignored the old and time-tested systems that had served ships of the enemies well for a long time. So, acting on suggestions that it was not wise to depend on a unique propulsion system alone, no matter how powerful, sails were added, as were oars, along with additional crew to operate them. Similar additions were then made to the weapons systems too. When the job was done, they all sat back satisfied that they had created a terrific all-in-one vessel that could barely be distinguished from those deployed by others. With so many systems on board and so much of redundancy built in, they were all sure that the Titanic that they had created was unsinkable, no matter what it had to face.

Till now, no one knows what exactly hit the ship and from which direction on May 16, 2009. Although the ship is still afloat despite crippling damage, it can only drift helplessly, not knowing where land is, and how far. With most systems having been badly damaged and no qualified repairmen at work to take on such a colossal task, it seems that it is only a question of time before most of those who can will get onto life boats and hope to hit land or another ship. Smaller ships that were once part of the flotilla are already on their own and looking for another big ship to attach themselves to at the right time.

The situation seems hopeless for IPS BJP. The hapless Captain, who is now clinically almost dead, has been put on life support systems and strapped to his chair so that everyone thinks he is still in charge and will pull the ship out of trouble. Knowing better, however, a fiesty lady familiar only with obsolete weapons that are no better than pea-shooters, has been tasked to look after the navigation and weapon systems from behind the Captains chair, while a combative solicitor trained to propel things through his voice alone on land, has been asked to put the ship's propulsion system in order and get it moving in the sea.

There is little doubt that both these appointees are not suited at all for the jobs they have been given and will be able to do nothing to get the ship going, much less restore it to its past glory. Why, then, one may ask, have they been chosen? That is where the extreme difficulty lies. There seems to be no one on the ship, save the Captain on life support, who has the ability to not only lift the morale of the crew but also harmonise and deploy them to restore the ship to its original lean and mean glory by ruthlessly dumping the many redundant systems that had made the ship very heavy and difficult to maneuver. There are many claimants to the chair but not one with the ability and experience that is needed at this make or break juncture. These two are arguably the most acceptable of the genuinely bad picks available.

So, is there no hope for this once magnificent ship that once ruled the waves for six years at a stretch? Is it ready to be sent to Alang, to be broken into many pieces and consigned to a few lines in history books?

Some believe that all is not lost and that there is one Captain who knows exactly what is needed to be done, and more, to not only restore the ship to its earlier glory but also lead it to a stunning victory. According to them, the hard truth is that though there are many pretenders who are busy running him down, he is the only one who has the ability to do what is needed to be done.

To make matters worse for the BJP, for a lot of outsiders he is not the captain of a warship. He is Captain Jack Sparrow who, no matter what a great job he may have as captain done or what exceptional skills he may have shown, cannot be forgiven for behaving like a pirate and temporarily hijacking his own ship sometime in 2002. They are not going to treat him or let him get away like the Jack Sparrow of 1984, whose descendants are now leading the flotilla that has all but destroyed this great ship.

IPS BJP is undoubtedly in deep trouble in the deep blue sea. It is at times like these, when almost all seems lost and there is no hope in sight, that a real leader can turn "Defeat into Victory", as Field Marshal William Slim did in the North East and Burma during the Second World War. So, if the BJP wants to turn things around, it has to find a real leader first and then back him to the hilt. Carrying deadwood, both human and ideological, and bloated egos is not going to save the ship at all; it will only speed it to Alang.