It is surreal to ponder “What is next for the BJP?” after an event as epochal as what happened at Ayodhya on 22 January. But, one can be assured that the leadership at the BJP would definitely be looking forward and would not be resting on the laurels, however grand they may be. They will learn as much from victories as losses and will keep jogging on the self-improvement treadmill.


As much as the party’s competitive position within Indian democracy, “What’s next for the BJP?” will hinge on many larger questions, such as, “what’s next for India?”, “what’s next in geo-politics?”, and “what’s next for humanity?”. There will be macro “eye of the sandstorm” issues relating to its place in the larger scheme of things and micro “sand in the eye” ones of realpolitik, which will shape the party’s future.

While hazarding a political analysis with both “as-is” and “to-be” components, this author is reminded of the Greek story of the Delphic boat. The boat is built of many planks. One by one, the old planks are replaced by new ones, until all of them are new. But has the boat changed? Is it even the same boat? While such metaphysical questions are fun to think about, this analysis will stay firm on real-world aspects viz. organisational, leadership, demographic, social, economic and technological changes.

First, the election-fighting machine of the BJP will be expanded and fine-tuned.

Having worked actively in the three preceding general elections, this author can vouch that if 2009 was a petty-shop, 2014 was a super-market and 2019 was a hypermarket. 2024 is already resembling a shopping district, with consultants and professionals of all kinds, acting in sync with grassroot karyakartas.

The skill-sets and capabilities now present with the central unit, will be made available to all state offices. Other parties too will catch-up, but the discipline of the BJP set-up always gives them an edge over rivals. We are already seeing that barring a few states, even if the BJP loses due to anti-incumbency, it does not lose badly. If the new campaign games involve drones, VR/AR, and hyper-communication, BJP is poised to do better than the others.

Second, on leadership, BJP and for that matter India, has a once-in-a-lifetime leader in PM Modi. The party organisation has been moulded to execute his vision. The post-Modi era may be far away, but how the organisation remoulds itself again will be a question. Will the leaders try to emulate PM Modi’s centralisation and control, probably unsuccessfully, or will they revert to consensual Atal-Advani days, will be a test of their sagacity.

Future leaders are sure to suffer from “impostor syndrome” by being weighed-up against the high-standards of PM Modi, both as a politician and as an administrator.

Third, the strong leadership and advent of technology has had a “hollowing out” effect on the middle-management of the party organisation.

Anyone who has watched or interacted with the party can vouch for the fact that the third rung of leadership needs nourishing and replenishing. With empowerment brought about by affirmative action and economic development, perhaps there will be a rush of new talent like in 2014. BJP would aspire to address the gender-gap and develop women leaders in large numbers.

Fourth, is the big-tent problem. While BJP has become the primary pole of Indian politics, it will keep expanding to accommodate people, making the shamiana bigger. Party loyalists are already uneasy about the phenomenon but do not voice concerns openly. They also trust the strong “Hindu nature” of the leadership. But at some point, BJP runs the risk of becoming indistinguishable from the erstwhile Congress party, true to the aphorism, “If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.” A strong bulwark against that may be the moral agency of the RSS.

Minority outreach of the BJP has been done in fits and starts. Hopefully the Pasmanda outreach will yield fruits in the near future, empowering Indian Muslims to develop an identity of their own.

Fifth, is the political aspirations problem. In Prof. Badri Narayan’s book, The Republic of Hindutva, he forewarns that the Sangh itself might find it hard to keep the cadres from aspiring for power. This concern is on the other end of the spectrum of being accommodative of “opportunists” from new constituencies.

Massive professionalisation of the party and the consequent bureaucratisation is already lessening opportunities for karyakartas to interact with the leaders. The BJP will do well to learn to design a comprehensive cadre management programme from the Chinese Communist Party.

Sixth, the southern-states issue persists for BJP. Perhaps the success of BS Yeddiyurappa is a pointer to grooming strong state-level leaders to suit the personality-focused politics of the southern states.

The blunder in Telangana with replacing Bandi Sanjay apart, BJP has done well to support Annamalai in Tamil Nadu. Kerala, where the party is currently sitting with 15 per cent vote share, is begging for a messiah to get it out of the rut.

Andhra Pradesh remains BJP’s weakest state in all of India, in spite of producing one of the tallest leaders from there in Venkaiah Naidu.

With the Ayodhya wave behind it, 2024 elections will perhaps provide the strongest signal on what works and what does not in the south. The balance of “supporting political entrepreneurship” vs ” keeping control” will determine success.

Seventh, India is going to be the third largest economy in the world. This will increase the aspirations of the citizens multi-fold. The organisation should mould itself to reflect the new realities.

In state elections parties have been able to target people that have been left behind in the growth story with treasury-breaking “guarantees”. How the BJP tackles this social phenomenon will determine the development of a strong opposition.

Eighth, demography is destiny. By 2030 India’s median age would be 32. Median income would be $4,500, assuming no disruptions. Destitution will be reduced to a bare minimum. India will be predominantly urban and well-connected in every sense. Agri-revolution would have also created new millionaires. “New leaders for new paradigms” apart, the party needs new workers that will keep in touch with local realities. Transition from a largely cadre-based party to communication-based set-up with a reduced full-time cadre will be inevitable. Maybe, we will see “saffron robots” to address the shortfall!

Ninth, BJP will look to form a coalition of like-minded parties across the world, especially pro-Hindu parties in the neighbouring countries.

It is currently a tall ask to emulate the partnership of communist parties across the world. BJP should take lead in organising a collective of conservative parties with a common minimum program to combat the “new communism” that is assaulting societies through wokeism, and rabid feminism. India’s geo-political heft will also help the cause. The forum could help mitigate the issues of conversion, Islamic terrorism etc. BJP should also be mindful that its uttereances will be watched closely by the international media.

Tenth, we are entering an era of war. The geo-politics is veering towards conflict with internal developments in the US, China and Russia pointing to chaos. It will shape India and its politics. The BJP is well structured to handle the narrative and offer non-war organisational support. The consequent rise in nationalism will strengthen the BJP further.

Eleventh, the era of AI is already shaping humanity. There will be winners, but there will be major losses in employment. Containment of technology is impossible. How the country and the party will cope with it is a mammoth question.

While our government is taking steps to strengthen our own AI capabilities, the downside of job losses is probably (and understandably) the least discussed topic in public. If one looks at the commentary from the Indian IT giants, one would realize that job-erosion is already happening. The dawn of the robotic era will pose questions to the rulers, similar to the ones faced when the East India company came as merchants, but this time in the form of tech-giants.

Twelfth will be learning from the decline and decay of the Congress. Given the current political landscape, perhaps the most interesting intellectual exercise will be to draft a vision statement for the Congress party. The erstwhile big-tent party with self-proclaimed intelligent people has been rendered irrelevant due to corruption, ideological incoherence and weak leadership. If the consensus is that the political pole has shifted from Congress to BJP, it means India has moved from the pseudo-secular to the Hindu-guaranteed secular.

BJP has to keep its systems open and meritocratic such that last karyakarta could aspire for top positions. Only open systems are self-correcting and nimble enough to adapt to the challenges of the times.

If one looks at the vast swathe of history, we, Bharatavarshis have achieved much under dharmic rulers, given away much under slavery and are only now beginning to reclaim our nation’s soul. We have made many mistakes and compromises. Perhaps the single biggest takeaway will be to promise ourselves to never be so weak again that we put ourselves on the brink of cultural annihilation. Hopefully all our future political organisations will remember this lesson as we surge forward as a nation.

Whether the BJP as a party stays with the same moral compass in the future is anybody’s guess. After all, any political party is filled with people in pursuit of power. The conundrum of the Delphic boat -“Will it be still BJP?”- will remain. But the “righteous kshatriya” spirit of the current BJP set-up is the one that will always reverberate with the soul of India.

The same “sanatana” spirit had animated in the past rulers such as Vikramaditya, Rajendra Chola, Guru Gobind Singh, Shivaji Maharaj or the Jana Sangh. The party or the leader that vibes with that strength and goodness will be relevant and will always have a shot at power. That should be the north star for the future BJP.

This article first appeared in and it belongs to them.