Politics is a constant transformation for political parties as they embark on fighting elections in different states on a constant basis. But in India, political parties cannot just become an election fighting machine. They have to create a cadre among themselves as they cease to exist on various counts in the country.
Two of the tallest parties of India’s political dynamics have undergone tremendous transformations in these last 16 years. While Congress enjoyed power in the New Delhi from 2004 to 2014, they tried their level best to churn the next generation of leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gaurav Gogoi, Sachin Pilot, Susmita Dev, Deependra Singh Hooda, K.C. Venugopal, Mukul Wasnik, RPN Singh, Rajiv Satav, Ajay Maken, Jitin Prasada, Manish Tewari and Milind Deora. My deliberate intention behind mentioning so many names was to highlight that almost all of the above-mentioned leaders went on to become Ministers in UPA-1 or UPA-2 under PM Manmohan Singh.
During these 10 years in power, these leaders were asked to work in the shadow of Rahul Gandhi who was deemed to be the next superpower in the Congress party after his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. While Sonia Gandhi had all senior generations of Congress under her garb, this younger generation of leaders created clout as the gen-next of the party to support Rahul whenever he took control of the party in his own hands.
Everything was going well inside the party until they were in power. But, soon after the party’s debacle in 2014 general elections, came the difficult phase for the grand old party. Being thrown out of power and decimated to a meagre 44 member party in the Loksabha in 2014, the younger generation started facing the heat of staying away from power. Rahul Gandhi by now had been adjudged as a systematic failure within the party. Yet, no one could actually accept this fact as he belonged to the family that almost owned the party as its private property. Gradually with time, differences starting arising within the party, when Rahul faction that had these young turks came at loggerheads with the seniors who belonged to Sonia Gandhi’s faction.
In recent times, many of these young leaders from Congress have been sidelined or ignored by the party. These times could have actually been utilised to ensure the bright future of the party keeping 2024 Lok Sabha elections in mind which would be the last elections for the stalwarts of Congress. Gears should have been shifted systematically to create a grooming space for the next generations of the party to pave the way for its future course. But such doesn’t appear to be happening.
In the case of Bharatiya Janata Party, they faced really difficult days till the 2009 Loksabha elections after being thrown out of power in 2004. With the sudden demise of BJP strongman Pramod Mahajan and retirement of Atal Bihari Vajpayee from politics in 2005, the onus was shifted on Lal Krishna Advani to lead the party. The BJP also underwent tough times during these 5 years as they were defeated in the 2009 Lok Sabha election and UPA came back to power becoming even stronger in numbers. But BJP gradually came up from those hiccups by garnering the next generation of its leaders who came up from different states. The rise of Narendra Modi to the national level in 2012, gave BJP the strong hopes of returning to power in 2014.
BJP stood behind Narendra Modi as a team, with the likes of their strong leaders like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Manohar Parrikar, holding on to their strengths. This resulted in BJP becoming a force to fight the Loksabha elections 2014 and emerge victorious with a huge margin. Meanwhile, BJP also created a relatively younger generation of leaders like Amit Shah, J.P. Nadda, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Jitendra Singh, Kiren Rijiju etc who became Union Ministers.
During this while, BJP very systematically has also created a breeding ground to another generation of leadership for its future times. This generation includes young faces like Yogi Adityanath, Kishan Reddy, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Sarbananda Sonowal, Anurag Thakur, Poonam Mahajan, Devendra Fadnavis, Babul Supriyo who appear to be the ones to stand the longer race and emerge as BJP’s go-to warriors to take the baton forward. BJP has methodically given these leaders different opportunities in their home states or the national politics within the party.
With BJP grooming its younger lot, after JP Nadda taking over from Amit Shah in January 2020, many changes have been witnessed within the party as well as in the Modi cabinet. With many more transformations are expected to happen in the coming days in BJP, eyes will be on the happenings. It will be interesting to see how BJP strengthens its future ranks while Congress is failing reasonably in creating its future leadership other than Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi. The recent incidents like Scindia jumping over the ships and Pilot creating disturbances in Rajasthan have evidently highlighted the cracks within the Congress where younger leaders face stiff opposition within the party from old horses who continue their loyalty to the Sonia Gandhi.