Book Review: How the BJP Wins by Prashant Jha

This book carries forward or can be looked as a sequel to Rajdeep Sardesai’s book (The election that changed India) which I read after the NDA formed the govt at the Centre after the seminal elections of 2014. I call it a sequel because a large part of the book deals with elections since 2014 and a large portion of the book is how BJP won UP and the North East. However, I must add I found this book by Prashant Jha better – meatier and providing better insights. Prashant Ji has an easy and an engrossing writing style and I could not let go of the book till I finished the book.

The key takeaways for me from the book as the why BJP wins are;

  1. The personality of the PM who has the ability to be credible in the eyes of diverse social groups/constituencies. The effectiveness of his communication skills is such that he can address and satisfy different constituencies at the same time.
  2. BJP understands that everyone in India is a minority and a rainbow coalition of different social groups, as was done in UP, will allow it to stitch the arthematic to gain a majority. The party has undergone some very interesting subalterization in recent times and has managed to stitch those coalitions at times tapping into the angst and anger of those backward castes and Dalits who found themselves excluded from the power structure of the regional parties like SP and BSP. So in a way the party is trying to practice the adage that Kashiram had coined ie. ‘Jiski jitni sankhya bhari, uski utni hissedari
  3. The organisational support and heft that the Sangh and its affiliates provide to the BJP in expanding its base, its mass contact and as a source of feedback.
  4. Polarisation and appealing to the Hindu sense of hurt – with the kind of secularism practised in the country. It has by its messaging discredited secularism to mean appeasement of the minority community.
  5. Pragmatism; toning down the ideological content wherever required, getting defectors from other parties which could ensure electoral success and accretion of votes as well as extensive use of data driven research and effective use of social media.
  6. The hunger for electoral success reflected in the relentless campaigning and hard work put in by the duo of the PM and Amit Shah.
  7. Most importantly the TINA factor, with no leader in sight who can pose an effective challenge to the larger than life Modi.

The book ends with a chapter on the challenges BJP could face and what could spoil the party for the party in its attempt at being THE party of India.

Overall a very good read.


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