Polity is an aggregate of actions of political parties
By Pramod Mahajan
No leader is God; everybody has a feet of clay. No power is permanent; many times it vanishes even before you feel it. Those political parties which revolve around one personality or a family?and there is no dearth of such political parties in our country?or those political parties for whom power is not a means to serve the people but a selfish instrument of self-service vanish in thin air
A political party is a group of people, who live together, who think together and act together. And finally, ideology is a distinctive thinking of a critical class of people, who deliberate and conceive answers to social, economic and political directions a nation should pursue in order to be prosperous, i.e. in our terminology, ?Param Vaibhav?.
In short, polity, political parties and ideologies are inseparable. Conceiving a political party without ideology is like imagining a tree without roots! Every member of a political party may not be in a position to explain all the nuances of his or her party'sideology. Every voter who votes for a particular party may not always vote because of its ideology. And every decision required to be taken when a party acquires power, may not always be the touchstone of its ideology. But that by no means lessens or diminishes the role of ideology in polity, that may to some extent illustrate its limitations.
What is the reason for a person to join and continue to work in a particular political party? Infatuation of a leader for a party as lure of political power is no answer. No leader is God; everybody has a feet of clay. No power is permanent; many times it vanishes even before you feel it. Those political parties which revolve around one personality or a family?and there is no dearth of such political parties in our country?or those political parties for whom power is not a means to serve the people but a selfish instrument of self-service vanish in thin air or lose their importance and relevance in polity. Only those political parties put their prints on the sands of time whose majority of members are inspired by ideologies of their political parties. They neither go into sunset with their tall leader nor are they bothered by the going in or coming out of the power, because their inspiration for being and working in a party neither comes from a tall leader nor from power but from the ideology which they profess.
It is true that in a country like India, where we have 600 million voters belonging to different religions, castes, languages, social and economic backgrounds, educational standards, every voter does not vote after examining the ideologies of different political parties. Nobody even expects that. Voting behaviour of an average voter is presumed to be complex all over the world. A Nobel Prize is waiting for the person who will be able to analyse this complex behaviour clearly.
But a political party must always remember that its basic vote comes from those who believe in the ideology of the party. Any major deviation from the ideology puts off its major support bank. These voters being loyal may not vote for others but they do not vote for you either. It is true that ideology-free undecided voters decide the fate of election. But it is only a half-truth. Your ideology-based voter support must be intact. Only fools care about ?interest? forgetting the basic ?deposit?, which is the root cause of interest. So even from pure electro-arithmetic point of view, ideology plays an important role in polity.
Let us now examine the last but not the least important point, does ideology have a role in polity while running the government or not? Does ideology lose its relevance the moment a political party acquires power?
There is no denying the fact that when you rule, you rule over those who believe in your ideology and over those who don'tknow your ideology and even over those who oppose your ideology. It is a very-very complex situation. You have to take ?n? number of decisions, which you never anticipated. You will come across innumerable complex situations, for which your ideology may not have clear-cut solutions.
Does this mean that ideology loses its relevance during governance? The answer is a clear no. It is the duty of the political party to serve the people who believe or don'tbelieve or oppose their ideology, with the cardinal principle ?justice to all and appeasement of none?. It is to be understood that good intentions and empathy are not good enough for sustainable political, social and economic development. A clear-cut political ideology is needed.
To conclude, ideology is like the banks of river. As long as a political party flows within its banks, it is a boon to the nation and the moment it crosses its banks, it becomes a curse to the society.
The people of India have always loved Bharatiya Janata Party for its strong ideological convictions. Though even today they consider BJP the best among the lot, the chariot of BJP'sDharmaraj has touched the ground. But people have not lost hope in the party. BJP should not lose faith in itself. India needs a party with ideology. Indian polity has such a vacuum. BJP should try its level best to come out of the present eclipse and fill this vacuum. It is not just that BJP can, it should!
(The author is general secretary of the BJP.)