Prashant Dayal, Ahmedabad: In the year 1990, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) didn’t have much resources or karyakartas (party workers) with them, but the ones in their fold were extremely loyal who used to work for BJP with all their heart. They had imagined that BJP would climb the highest peaks of success in the coming years. For them, BJP was a nationalist party that worked for the welfare of Hindus and for Hindutva. BJP had such workers and leaders who would climb atop poles to tie banners and paint on walls during elections.

But things began to change after 1995. After the BJP came to power, cars of rich and powerful people could be seen parked outside the Ahmedabad regional office. These rich and powerful were those who in the past never cared about the party. Soon, the real idea with which the party was formed was pushed to the corner. BJP needed the money to make itself a corporate party, as a result, corporate leaders rose to ranks in the BJP. They had no connections to the party or its Hindutva ideology. For them, BJP was just another opportunity to do business. The party now didn’t need those workers and leaders who would tie banners atop poles and paint slogans on walls. BJP real strength was their karyakartas.

Situations changed, again, after 2001. Narendra Modi emerged as a Hindutva leader after the 2002 communal riots. The party found a surprise leader amongst their karyakartas and people began to vote for Narendra Modi and not the party. Such was the scenario that because the votes were coming in for Modi, anyone who gets a ticket to contest the polls for BJP would get easily elected. There were two effects of this. One, that Narendra Modi began to assume that no leader in the party has an individual identity and that he is solely responsible for everything good that has happened in the party. Secondly that Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and other MLAs began to believe that BJP was the people’s party and that it doesn’t require any karyakartas to win elections.

As the juggernaut of BJP’s victory began to move ahead, the karyakartas were sidelined and the party leaders began to believe that these workers do not bring in anything substantial to the party’s success. Despite being in power, the MLAs and ministers in Sachivalaya would ignore or send away party workers who would bring with them problems of the citizens. The karyakartas were upset but had no one to talk to about it. They didn’t have the guts to accept the fact that their own party was not listening to them. The BJP leaders in the state and centre became arrogant with the continuous streak of victory. The BJP workers felt left out in their own party. Even those leaders who were brought in from the Congress were being treated better than the workers.

The upset karyakartas and leaders would keep mum as they had seen what had happened to those who quit the party. The party workers kept praying for the BJP’s win and would work diligently in every task given to them. Even during the assembly elections of the five states, they worked really hard. But the results upset all of them. Despite this, in their heart, they were of the opinion that the loss has happened for good. Maybe these losses would bring down the pride of their leaders which was on cloud nine. When a father gets old and bed-ridden, he still commands the respect he deserves. But BJP leaders have not only ignored their ageing karyakartas, but have left them to fend for themselves.