Posts Tagged ‘Indian Elections’

GST: Great Source of Trouble

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

GST: Great Source of Trouble

By

Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar VSM

GST was introduced with much fanfare by the BJP Government on 1 July 2017 following the passage of the Constitution 122nd Amendment Bill. It is applicable throughout India and has replaced multiple taxes levied by the Central and State governments. The GST is governed by a GST Council. Its Chairman is the Finance Minister of India with members from State and Central Governments. Under GST, goods and services are taxed at a number of rates, 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. There is a special rate of 0.25% on rough precious and semi-precious stones and 3% on gold. In addition there is a cess of 22% on top of 28% GST on a few items like aerated drinks, luxury cars and tobacco products. GST replaced a slew of indirect taxes like exercise duty, sales tax, octroi tax, entry tax, import duty, service tax, entertainment tax etc with a unified tax. It is expected reshape the country’s 2 trillion dollar economy. The Government claims that GST is easy to administer, helps check tax evasion and reduces the cost of tax collection. The Government also claims that the prices will come down because of GST.

Infosys is building a gigantic electronic infrastructure to control the process which is expected to serve about 7.5 million businesses, 500 million consumers and possibly 10 trillion transactions per month over 4 metros, 7 semi metros, thousands of towns, hundreds of thousands of villages spread over 29 states and five union territories some of which are not yet connected by road or electricity. It is not out of place to mention that out of our one and a quarter billion population, only about 1% pay income tax, 3% understand English and about 2% can use a computer. The situation is further complicated by the fact we have three types of GST, Central GST, State GST and Integrated GST and five different rates excluding the special rates and cesses. This gigantic and complex system with a plethora of reports, tax collection, tax credits and refunds is to be implemented by Central and State departments who have been at war over jurisdiction (mainly over share of illegal gratification they have been used to receiving). I hope my readers understand what our Government has bit into.

It is not out of place to mention that only seven countries in the world, Singapore 1994, Australia 2000, Canada 2008, New Zealand 2010, Malaysia 2015, France 2015 and India 2018 have GST. 152 major economies including the US, UK, EU, China follow VAT. Most countries have only one GST rate.  The lowest is Canada 5% and highest New Zealand at 15 %. Only Canada has Central and state GST. With this background information, we can now examine the problems being faced.

Troubles for Manufacturers

The accounting costs are likely to increase as calculation of cost of inputs and value added will be complex.

Initial tax payment will be large as the tax paid will be on cost of inputs as well as value added.

Delay in getting tax credits is a serious problem which can create cash flow problems particularly for small and medium size industries. GST system with multiple tax brackets has inherent problems, as the taxes on intermediate goods are in some cases higher than the tax on the final products in which they are used. Thus there may be cases where tax credit will be more than tax paid.

Troubles for Distributors for Whole Sellers

In GST, the supplier will be liable to collect tax on goods and services provided. This provision will have serious adverse impact on unregistered dealer business as most of the companies will try to not to deal with unregistered dealers to avoid unwanted additional compliance burden.

Troubles for traders and Retailers

The first and major problem is preparing the monthly returns. The GST returns are complex and even taxmen who are not computer savvy find them difficult to fill. Even if the returns become quarterly as is the case in some countries using GST, it is a major problem for those traders and retailers who are not computer savvy. Hiring professionals is costly and professionals have taken advantage of the large demand and hiked their rates.

There is also the problem of charging the wrong rate and getting penalized.

Troubles for the Tax Professionals

GST is absolutely different from existing system of indirect taxation. It, therefore, requires that tax consultants to be trained properly in terms of concept, interpretation, legislation and procedure for preparing returns, claiming tax credits etc. This will take time.

In the absence of a uniform legal procedure for tax disputes, tax professionals will have difficulty in helping clients sort out their client’s problems with tax authorities. Litigations may increase.

Several transactions can be classified sales or as services. Thus there will be disputes in determining the nature of transaction.

Troubles for the Hospitality Industry

GST has led to rise in tariff. But hotels are unable to raise prices of rooms booked in advance. He will suffer some losses. Increased tariffs could lead to fall in occupancy and more losses.

There would also be problems in calculating value addition. For example branded atta attracts 12% GST while unbranded 0%. On what rates will input cost be calculated?

Troubles for the Consumers

The GST rates are too high on many products. For example, service tax has increased from 12% in 2014 to 18% under GST now. High taxes can lead to increased tax evasion, inspector raj and corruption, lower demand and thus lower tax collection, and higher prices. There is a risk that it may lead to short-term inflation.

The main problem with consumers is increased cost. I bought a mixer grinder worth Rs 2000 and paid Rs 560 as tax. Is this fair?

The other problem is availability. Dealers are not supplying items to small cash traders as the tax trail is not clear. This is causing scarcity in rural areas.

Troubles for the Taxmen

It is well known that it takes a fair amount of time for any software to be debugged. When the system is so vast, debugging the system is going to take time. Tax credits and refunds are getting delayed and the tax men and the government are being blamed.

Many offices of customs and exercise at district levels have not yet received the hardware and software. The end of the financial year is only about four months away. It is difficult to see how chaos is going to be avoided.

GST is absolutely different from existing system of indirect taxation. It, therefore, requires that tax administration staff at both Centre and state to be trained properly in terms of concept, interpretation, legislation and procedure for dealing with returns, tax credits etc.

There has to be a uniform legal procedure for tax disputes and litigations to avoid any confusion. This is yet to be put in place.

With the transportation services available everywhere, the place of sale and consumption may not be the same. This makes it difficult to go forward with revenue allocation.

There are various definitional issues related to manufacturing, sale, service, valuation etc. arises. These need to be rationalized.

Troubles for the Economy

The first and most important problem is Central Government’s loss of revenue. As per Mr. Vanaja Sharma, Chairperson Central Board of Exercise and Customs (CBEC) (as reported in Times of India, Jaipur Edition of October 30, 2017), the Government had targeted 9.7 lakh crores collection from Customs and other indirect taxes in its budget for the current fiscal. Keeping in view the GST rollout this target was unlikely to be achieved. What will be the shortfall is difficult to project. Right now the CBEC was acting as a facilitator and not penalizing anybody.  A serious shortfall will seriously affect Government spending and will result in low profile spending on healthcare, education, rural development etc. Job creation will stop and even retrenchments could take place. There could be distress selling of Public Sector assets to make up revenue shortfall.

The state governments will also face serious revenue losses. They cannot print notes or sell public sector assets. Government servants will not be paid in time. Even without GST problem, the Rajasthan State Transport Corporation employees have not been paid salaries for over three months. State governments are demanding compensation from the central government for five years as they foresee a major dent in the revenue due to sales tax revenue losses. The central government has agreed to 3 years. Only God knows what will happen when the loss of revenue due to GST will be known in April 2018.

Manufacturers of consumer goods and two wheelers will be in serious trouble. Their sales growth which was mainly in the rural areas will turn negative. Rural economy is totally cash oriented as there is only one bank for every 10 or more villages and small traders and vendors cannot accept digital payments. How this interface between the small traders and consumers in the cash economy and GST paying whole sellers in small towns work is yet to be seen. Diwali sales this year was down about 30%. Drop in sales will result in job losses, agitations and increase in crime.

There will be no growth in employment as private and public sector players face severe cash crunch. The number of educated unemployed will increase from the already monstrous 50 million. Demands and agitations for reservations will increase. Law and order will deteriorate.

It is not clear as to how the GST system caters for reconciliation of numbers of items produced and sold which will differ due to losses in transit, storage, accidents, thefts, expiry of shelf life, rejection during quality check and a host of other causes. Our sharp businessmen will no doubt exploit any loophole and cheat on taxes as they have done all these years.

Initial tax collection on introduction of GST is high and creates euphoria in governments. But this is going to be short lived as up to 65% may have to be refunded as tax credits. Governments will be in trouble if they over spend.

Conclusion

By opting for GST, our Government has taken a gigantic leap into the unknown. I can only hope they have looked long and hard before they leapt. The Government claims that GST will benefit the country in the long run. Mr. Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister in the Vajpayee Government, says that we will be dead by the time things get better. Mr. Chetan Bhagat, Columnist and self proclaimed “Under age optimist” has pleaded with the Government to make things simple. Mr. Subramanium Swamy, BJP MP, calls GST a disaster and a national security risk. In the age of cyber attacks and warfare, total reliance on a digital system is likely to be risky. I, the self proclaimed “Over age rational pessimist” will hope for the best and try to prepare for the worst, a bankrupt government, unable to pay my pension. World Bank and IMF certificates and accolades do not guarantee my pension. Only sound, pragmatic and implementable economics policies and adequate government revenue can.

May God save India

Will the Secular Members of BJP Please Split and Form a New Party

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Will the Secular Members of BJP Please Split and Form a New Party

By

Col Bhaskar Sarkar VSM (Retd)

www.bhaskarsarkar.com ; www.twitter.com@COLSARKAR

The RSS has recently given up its pretense of being an apolitical organization dedicated to social upliftment of Hindus and announced its ambition of gaining political power through the BJP. It has tried to display its hold on the BJP leadership by nominating Mr. Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. It has also directed its affiliates, the Sangh Parivar to assist the BJP in election campaigning, mustering voters and booth management. The RSS is doing this because it believes that the Congress is at its weakest and this is the best opportunity for the RSS to gain political power and push its agenda of making “Bharat” a Hindu State and Hindutva as its culture.

The RSS move has dismayed the secular Indians who support BJP and put them in a quandary as to whether to vote for BJP. It has prompted its long term ally JDU to leave the NDA. It has made it difficult to forge pre election alliances and post election coalitions. Many like me believe that an RSS dominated BJP with Modi as its prime ministerial candidate will not get 100 seats in the next Lok Sabha elections. Secular supporters of BJP will have no option but to vote for the Congress as there is no national alternative to the Congress. The Communists, with their rigid ideology, have lost their pan India appeal. The Aam Admi Party is an unknown quantity.

There are many reasons why the BJP should split into BJP (Secular) and BJP (Hindutva). Some are listed below:

Mixing Religion with Politics is Dangerous

Muslims have been trying to have religion influence politics and governance. Taliban did it in Afghanistan and sent the country’s development backward by a century at least. We have seen the effects of religion dominating politics in Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt where Muslim Brotherhood have sized power in elections. In Turkey, the Muslim Brotherhood dominated government are slowly doing away with secularism and imposing restrictions on women, drinking and other personal freedoms. This has resulted in protests. In Tunisia and Egypt it has created social unrest, violence and chaos. I have no doubt that if RSS gains political power, it will start chipping away at our secularism and try Hindu Talibanization of our society.

We Must Respect the Demographic Reality

India has about 15 percent Muslims and about 3 percent Christians. That means that there are about 180 million Muslims and about 36 million Christians in India. The numbers are too large to be ignored. We have to learn to respect all religions and life styles and live in harmony. Otherwise there would be no peace or progress.

The Sangh does not Accept Women as Equals

Women are almost 45 percent of the population and voters. They cannot be ignored. But the Sangh does not accept women as equals. In Hindu culture, women are not persons but things. That is why they are given away (Kanyadan) at the time of marriage along with cash (Dakshina). A woman is not supposed to return to her parents till she died. A woman is supposed to obey her father till marriage, her husband after marriage and her son if she becomes a widow. She is not supposed to be educated and is required to be a house wife at the service of her in-laws.

Women are not members of the Sangh. There is a cosmetic Durga Bahini but their members are rarely seen or heard. Sangh does not like women as chief ministers. They got rid of Uma Bharti in Madhya Pradesh. They reportedly ensured defeat of Vasundhara Raje in the last elections. They are against Sushma Swaraj being made the prime ministerial candidate. They are against giving one third of the seats to women. Like the Taliban, the Sangh wants women in “purda” and at home. If Sangh gains political power, moral policing will increase and women will have to marry according to the wishes of the parent whether the groom is a doddering old man or unacceptable to the girl due to looks, level of education or any other reasons.

No Party Can Form a Government on its Own

Given the diversity of India and current trends, no party will be able to form a government on its own. No party other than AIDMK and Shiromani Akali Dal will align with a Sangh dominated BJP with Modi as prime ministerial candidate. But BJP (Secular) will not be untouchable and will have a better chance of forming a non Congress government.

Conclusion

It is always safe for BJP leaders to play second fiddle to the Sangh and maintain a low profile. It ensures personal security and perks. But if the secular members of BJP are secular at heart and believe that RSS ideology and Hindutva is not the right approach to govern India, they must muster courage, leave the BJP and form a new party. That way you will give secular Indians and women an alternative to corrupt and arrogant Congress to vote for.

RSS and the Sangh are great organizations in their own right. They are patriotic and torchbearers of Hindu culture. They have a glorious record of service to the Hindu society. I respect them for what they are and what they have done. They should stick to their role serving Hindu Society and stay away from politics and governance.

Thinking of Voting BJP: Think Again

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Thinking of Voting for BJP: Think Again

by

Col Bhaskar Sarkar VSM (Retd)

www.bhaskarsarkar.com ; www.twitter@COLSARKAR

The RSS has started openly dictating the policies and programs of the BJP. They have openly endorsed Mr. Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. They have asked all elements of the Sangh Parivar to help the BJP during elections by canvassing for the BJP and helping in booth management and getting voters to vote. Has any one thought as to why has RSS suddenly abandoned its pretence of being an apolitical social welfare association and openly jumped into the fray? My guess is that RSS feels that Congress is at its weakest and the coming Lok Sabha elections is the best chance for BJP to come to power. The RSS also feels that if BJP comes to power; it will be able to fulfill its dream to establish a Hindu Raj and promote Hindutva.

RSS Agenda

The mission of RSS has been revitalization of Indian value system. The organization says that it aspires to unite all Hindus and build a strong India. Its main ideologue and the second head was Mr. M S Golwalkar. When it came to non-Hindu religions, Golwalkar’s view on minorities was that of extreme intolerance. He stated in the book – “We, or Our Nationhood Defined” that “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and languages, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture… in a word they must cease to be foreigners; Or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment— not even citizens’ rights.” Recently some RSS and BJP’s members have distanced themselves from M.S Golwalkar’s views to different degrees. The tasks of the RSS are to reorganize Hindu Society, unite Hindus, and protect Hindu religion, character building and a desire to take India to the highest glory.

So what is the Problem

On the face of it there are none. But my association with the RSS through their chain of schools, “Adarsh Vidya Mandirs” makes me apprehensive.

When RSS talks of revitalization of Indian value system, what do they want to revive? In my understanding there are many aspects of Hindu culture like nationalism, patriotism, spirit of sacrifice, tolerance of people of other faiths which are admirable and need to be strengthened. But there are some aspects which have me worried:

Unquestioned Obedience of Parents and Elders

This is a dangerous trend that the Sangh is trying to revive. Let us see one example of such unquestioned obedience from the Mahabharata. When Arjuna mentioned to his mother that he had won a prize; she asked him to share it with his brothers. So Arjuna, who had won the hand of Draupadi at an archery contest, was forced to share her with his brothers. Elders can also take unreasonable decisions. King Dasarath sent Ram to 12 years of exile to the forest just because he made a silly promise to one of his wives to give whatever she asked for without even thinking of possible consequences. Unquestioned obedience to parents and elders could mean child marriage, end of love marriages or inter caste marriages and justification of honor killings.

Status of Women

In Hindu culture, women are not persons but things. That is why they are given away (Kanyadan) at the time of marriage along with cash (Dakshina). A woman is not supposed to return to her parents till she died. A woman is supposed to obey her father till marriage, her husband after marriage and her son if she becomes a widow. She is not supposed to be educated and to be a house wife at the service of her in-laws. I love my wife, daughter and grand daughter as persons and they have full freedom to disagree and make choices. They are not things but persons to be loved and cherished.

Sanskritization

If RSS has its way, Sanskrit will become compulsory in all schools. It would be an unfair burden on my grand children.

Mixing Religion with Politics

We have seen the effects of religion dominating politics in Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt where Muslim Brotherhood have sized power in elections. In Turkey, they are slowly doing away with secularism and imposing restrictions on dressing, drinking and other personal freedoms. This has resulted in protests. In Tunisia and Egypt it has created social unrest. I have no doubt that if RSS gains political power, it will start chipping away at our secularism and try Hindu Talibanization of our society.

Conclusion

Friends! If you are thinking of voting for BJP, please think again. If you value your freedom to choose your career, life partner and lifestyle, RSS is not the party you want in political power. If you are a woman and consider yourself equal to men and value your freedom to choose your career, life partner and lifestyle, RSS is not the party you want in political power.

Mixing religion and politics and vote bank politics will lead our country to the worst kind of social unrest. There will be riots everywhere. It will make our lives and the lives of our children full of misery. Think before you vote.

An Open Letter to the BJP President

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

An Open Letter to the BJP President

by

Col Bhaskar Sarkar VSM (Retd)

Author, Civil Engineer & Management Consultant

40 Shanti Kunj, Alwar, Rajasthan

Website: www.bhaskarsarkar.com

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

January 29, 2013

To Mr. Rajnath Singh BJP President Dear Sir, First of all please accept my heartiest congratulations on being elected the President of the Party at this critical juncture. You have worn this crown of thorns before. The BJP tally in 2009 was less than 2004. What will it be in 2014/2013 and why? Summary of Lok Sabha Results Since 1999

State Seats

1999

2004

2009

BJP INC Others BJP INC Others BJP INC Others Remarks
Andhra Pradesh 42 7 5 30 2 29 11 0 33 9
Assam 14 2 10 1 2 9 3 4 7 3
Bihar 54/ 40 23 4 27 5 3 32 12 2 26
Jharkhand 14 - - - 1 6 7 8 1 5
Gujrat 26 20 6 0 14 12 0 15 11 0
Haryana 10 5 5 0 1 9 0 0 9 1
Himachal 4 3 0 1 1 3 0 3 1 0
Karnataka 28 7 18 3 18 8 2 19 6 3
Madhya Pradesh 40/29 29 11 0 25 4 0 16 12 1
Chhattisgarh 11 - - - 10 1 0 10 1 0
Maharashtra 48 13 10 25 14 13 21 8 17 23
Tamil Nadu 39 0 2 37 0 10 22 0 8 31
Delhi (NCR) 7 7 0 1 6 0 0 7 0
Orissa 21 9 2 10 7 2 12 0 6 15
Punjab 13 1 10 2 3 2 8 1 8 4
Rajasthan 25 16 9 0 21 4 0 5 19 1
Uttarakhand 0/5 3 1 0 5 0
Uttar Pradesh 85/ 80 29 10 36 10 9 62 10 21 49
West Bengal 42 2 3 37 1 6 37 1 6 35
Total 543 182 114 138 145 114 206 233

Source: www.eci.nic.in

The following facts are clear from the table above:

1.       BJP is in Decline. It has been a downward slide for the BJP since 1999. BJP got 37 less seats in 2004 and 68 less seats in 2009 when compared with 1999. Unless this trend can be reversed, BJP will become irrelevant at the national level and Congress will rule for ever. An article on the subject is attached. The Babri Masjid demolition in Dec 1992 seemed to have improved BJP performance but the communal riots in Gujarat riots of 2002 is perhaps the prime cause of its decline in 2004 and 2009 elections as it became a pariah for its allies like TDP, TMC and BJD. 2.       Decline in Andhra. In Andhra Pradesh it got 7 seats in 1999 but 0 in 2009. BJP never had a strong base in Andhra. Its rise and decline was along with TDP and particularly after 2002. 3.       Decline in Gujarat. In Gujarat it got 20 seats in 1999 but 14 is 2004 and 15 in 2009. This decline is a result of 2002 riots. 4.       Decline in Haryana. In Haryana it had 5 seats in 1999 but 0 in 2009. The breakup of its alliance with the corrupt Chauthalas is the main cause of the rout. How effective the alliance with Haryan Vikas Party will be only time will tell. 5.       Decline in Maharashtra. In Maharashtra it had 13 seats in 1999 but 8 in 2009. This decline was in parallel with the decline of its partner Shiv Sena and possibly poor candidate selection. 6.       Decline in Delhi. In Delhi it had 7 seats in 1999 but 0 in 2009. The decline is due to removal of Madan Lal Khurana, infighting and poor candidate selection. 7.       Decline in Orissa. In Orissa it had 9 seats in 1999 but 0 in 2009. The decline was due to break up with BJD and weak state organization. 8.       Decline in Rajasthan. In Rajasthan it had 16 in 1999 but 5 in 2009. The decline is due to intense infighting and poor candidate selection. Nothing has changed here. 9.       Decline in Uttar Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand it had 29 in 1999 but only 10 in 2009. The decline is due to ouster of Kalyan Singh, intense infighting, poor candidate selection and effect of Gujarat riots. 10.   Decline in Madhya Pradesh. In Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh it had 35 in 2004 but only 26 in 2009. In fact the Congress tally increased in Madhya Pradesh from 4 in 2004 to 12 in 2009. Decline is due to ouster of Uma Bharti, infighting and poor candidate selection. 11.   Increase in Karnataka. In Karnataka BJP had 7 seats in 1999 which increased to 19 in 2009. But this increase is likely to disappear in 2013 due to ouster of Yedurappa and split in Karnataka BJP. Importance of Leaders

BJP does not seem to appreciate the importance of competent leadership. It feels that anyone who is nominated by the Party President and the High Command can be an effective leader and win elections. That is not true. BJP has a history of ill treating outstanding leaders and paying the price.

Madan Lal Khurana revived the party in Delhi and led BJP to victory in the Delhi Assembly polls in 1993. He resigned in 1996 to face a corruption charge. Party declined to reinstate him when his name was cleared and preferred Sahib Singh Verma as CM. Sahib Singh Verma was ineffective as CM and was replaced by Sushma Swaraj just before 1998 elections. It was too little, too late. Congress returned to power in Delhi has retained power ever since. BJP’s tally in Delhi reduced from 7/7 to 0/7.

Kalyan Singh led BJP to victory in UP elections in 1991. Under him, BJP became the largest political party in 1993 UP elections. He became leader of the opposition and was CM from 1997-1999 when his government was dismissed in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition. He was forced out of BJP in Dec 99 but returned to BJP before 2004 LS elections and won. He left again in2009 before 2009 election citing neglect and humiliation and won as independent. BJP came 4th in UP with 10/80 in 2009. Kalyan Singh has again returned to BJP again but for will he be allowed to lead the Party in the coming Lok Sabha elections? Uma Bharti led the BJP to a three-fourth majority in Madhya Pradesh assembly in 2003 and was made CM. She resigned from the post of Chief Minister in August 2004, when an arrest warrant was issued her regarding some case pertaining to 1994 at Hubli. She was not reinstated when the case was dismissed. Shivraj Patil was inducted as CM. She was thrown out of the Party for opposing L K Advani on some issue. She has been re-inducted in the BJP in 2011. She was tasked with reviving the party in Uttar Pradesh, ahead of the assembly polls in 2012. It was another case of too little too late. BJP suffered a humiliating defeat but she won her seat. B S Yedurappa became the State President of the BJP  in 1988 and was made the CM of Karnataka after leading BJP to a historic victory in 2008 Karnataka Assembly elections He was accused of corruption by Lokayukta and forced to step down. In March 2012,the Karnataka High Court quashed the FIR registered against him regarding the Mining scam. On 25 July 2012, Karnataka High Court granted anticipatory bail to Yeddyurappa in a case relating to alleged irregularities in de-notification of government land in 2009. But he was not reinstated. Humiliated, he has formed a new party like Uma Bharti did in Madhya Pradesh. What damage his leaving will cause is yet to be seen. Vasundhara Raje has been a leader of BJP since 1985. From 1989 onwards she won four consecutive elections to the Lok Sabha. In 2003, she shot to prominence by leading the BJP to its biggest victory in the state elections in Rajasthan as the State BJP President. But there was a rebellion of party leaders against her firm style of leadership. In 2008 Rajasthan assembly elections BJP suffered a narrow defeat and Vasundhara Raje quit as CM. Being from Rajasthan we know that the Sangh and some local leaders actively worked to ensure her defeat. Whether she will lead BJP in 2013 Assembly elections and whether BJP will support her totally is to be seen. B C Khanduri is senior BJP leader of Uttarkhand. He is a four times MP and Minister in Vajpayee government. In February 2007, he led the BJP to victory in assembly elections in Uttarkhand and was chosen to be CM. There was a rebellion of party leaders against his firm style of leadership. High command gave in and made Pokriyal the CM. But the performance of Pokhriyal government was so poor that BJP brought back Khanduri as CM just before state elections. BJP lost narrowly. Khanduri could not win his seat as Pokhriyal and other local leaders used all their efforts to defeat him. BJP must understand that leadership is most important. Greeks never won a war after the death of Alexander the Great. It required Chandra Gupta Maurya to unite the 16 kingdoms of the Vedic Period into one country. The kingdom of Ashoka collapsed within 50 years of his death. The Mughal Empire collapsed within 50 years of the death of Aurangzeb. It required Shivaji to organize the Marathas into a formidable power. It required a Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to form the INA and fight the British Army. It required a Mahatma Gandhi to lead our non violent struggle for freedom. It required Sardar Patel to unite India. It required a Shyamapada Mukherjee to launch the struggle to integrate Kashmir into India. It required an Indira Gandhi to annex Sikkim and liberate Bangladesh. It required an Atal Behari Vajpayee to establish India as a nuclear power. It is leadership that makes the difference. Importance of Unity Hindu history is replete with instances of lack of unity and betrayal. In 327 BC Hindu King Ambhi of Taxila aligned with the forces of Alexander in his battle with Hindu King Puru. In the Second Battle of Tarrain, the Hindu Raja of Kanauj Jai Chandra met Mohammad of Ghori and informed him about the details of Prithwi Raj Chauhan’s strengths and battle plans and helped ensure Prithwi Raj’s defeat. In the Battle of Khanwa with Babar, Rana Sangha was assisted by Hassan Khan Mewati but betrayed by the Hindu Raja of Malwa, Silhadi (the Rana had married his daughters to Silhadi’s son) who left Rana Sangha’s forces in the middle of the battle with 20,000 men and joined Babar. Maharana Pratap of Mewar was not assisted in his battles with Akbar by other Rajput Rulers like Man Singh of Amber. In fact even his brothers Shakti Singh and Jagammal joined Akbar in the hope of being made the Rana after Rana Pratap was defeated. Political back stabbing is passé in the BJP. Sahib Singh Verma did in Madan Lal Khurana. RSS did in Uma Bharti and Vasundhara Raje. Kalraj Mishra and the Bramhin lobby did in Kalyan Singh. Pokhriyal and his friends did in Khanduri. Anant Kuma did in Yedurappa. Arjun Munda did in Babu Lal Marandi. I am reminded of a poem by Rabindra  Nath Tagore describing the “Rath Yatra” at Puri. Hundreds of thousands of people were bowing before the “Rath”. The street (Path) thought that it was God and people were bowing to it. The “Rath” thought I am God, and people were bowing to it. The idols thought they were the God and people were bowing to it. And God smiled at their foolishness. Every senior leader in the BJP sees himself as a potential PM or CM whether he is capable and acceptable or not. That is not possible. Unity in Congress is ensured by the Gandhi family. Who will temper the ambition of BJP leaders and ensure unity? Importance of Strategy Need for Winning Strategy. Hindu teaching lays great stress on bravery and sacrifice (Veerta and Balidan). It does not pay equal stress on planning, preparing and training to win. Since the time of Mohammad of Gazni Hindu warriors have fought bravely but were defeated and martyred. The invaders made off with their wealth, wives and daughters. BJP needs to evolve a winning strategy for the polls. If it fails to do that the slide of its fortunes will continue and it will be reduced to around 80 seats in the 2013/2014 Lok Sabha Elections. Need for Younger Leadership. Hindu teaching lays great stress on listening to elders. It means BJP leadership has no place for new ideas and young leaders. India has changed. 50 % of the population of India are under the age of 25. Today children are more educated and informed than their parents and do not listen to elders but do things differently. The BJP, like the rest of the world, must project leaders in the forties and fifties rather than seventies and eighties. Need to Give more Seats to Women. Hindu teaching does not accept equality between men and women. But women account for more than 50 percent of the voters. They are outperforming men in many fields. BJP must give 50 % of seats to women to contest. Need to Induct More Muslims to Improve Secular Image. BJP must improve its secular image by giving many more seats to Muslims. This will not only help them get more votes and seats but also make it acceptable to political parties like TMC, TDP, Communists etc and make it difficult for Mulayam Singh to Keep bailing out Congress in the name of keeping out communal forces. It should remember that Hassan Khan Mewati fought alongside Rana Sangha against Babar and the Meos of Rajasthan are Rajasthanis. There are a large number of Muslim women’s organizations who are fighting for reforms and liberal thinking. These organizations like the All India Women’s Personal Law Board, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, etc could be good source of Muslim Women candidates. Shia Muslims are moderate, liberal and suitable for being members of BJP. There are about three crore Shias in India. There are many big and small towns and villages with majority Shiite Muslim population in India. Many of them migrated to India to escape the persecution by Sunnis. Prominent places in India with majority or considerable Shia Muslim population are Kargil, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Barabanki, Sirsi, Amroha, Zaidpur, Hallur, Naseerabad, Naugaon, Naseerabad, Manikpur, Safipur, Unnao, Akbarpur, Sultanpur and Muzafar Nagar. The Shias include Sayyids, Khoja and Bhoras. Gujrat is the home to most of the Dawoodi Bhora population of the world. Need to Improve Campaigning Elections are not won on the votes of staunch supporters of political parties, RSS or other organizations. They are too few. Elections are won based on the votes of non committed ordinary voters, farmers, labourers, petty businessmen, daily wage earners, housewives, teachers and other professionals. India Shining Campaign did not work for BJP in 2004. The strategy in 2009 failed miserably. Unless a more meaning full campaign strategy is evolved, BJP will again fail to win. Price rise is not an issue with the people. The sales in Rajasthan during Diwali this year broke all records. It is almost impossible to find a daily labourer or a maid without a mobile phone. Different people have different wish lists. Everyone wants drinking water, electricity and protection from harassment by police. Students want protection from exploitation by educational institutions and jobs. Women want physical and financial security and income opportunities. Petty business and hawkers want protection from extortion by police, RTO and anti-socials. Farmers want seeds, fertilizer and water in time. They want loans from banks without having to pay a percentage to the manager. They want meaningful support price and aid during natural calamities. Corruption is not an issue as long as work gets done. It is useful to media to fill in their time. An article titled “Winning Elections Obama Style is attached. Need to Bring New Allies Congress accepts that it cannot form government on its own and is going all out to win allies. Does BJP? It requires at least 277 seats to form the government. Even in the unlikely scenario of it repeating its 1999 performance of winning 182 seats, it requires another 85 seats to form a government. SAD will provide 7 and HVP 2. Sena may support Modi and bring about 12 seats. That is 19. With JDU refusing to join if BJP is the candidate for PM, there is no way BJP can come near the magic figure. Deductions 1.       Secular Image is essential. India has changed a lot in the last ten years since 1999. Education and western influences have increased. Women have become more assertive. The TV media is a strong tool of building public opinion and it does not support Hindu or Muslim fundamentalism or RSS ideology. The people who faced the trauma of Partition are mostly over 70 and an insignificant minority. Neither Congress nor BJP can hope to form the government at the centre on its own. Congress openly acknowledges it and invites new allies. BJP does not admit it and has not sought any new allies. If it fails to improve its secular image by ruling out any role for Modi at the Centre and giving more seats to Muslims, JDU will leave the alliance and TMC, TDP and the Communists will never support BJP. That means Congress will continue to form the government for ever. 2.       BJP must Select its Leaders with Care. The BJP must understand that there is a difference between a regional leader and a national leader. The BJP rules alone in just 4 of 27 Indian States. It cannot project a regional leader like Narendra Modi to lead India unless he is acceptable to all the existing and potential allies. Only Sushma Swaraj fits the bill. BJP must rehabilitate proven leaders like Kalyan Singh, Yadurappa, Vasundhara Raje, Uma Bharti, B C Khanduri and ask them to lead the Party in the States. It must also indentify and nurture leaders in other states where it is not in power or sharing power. 3.       BJP must ensure Unity within its Organisation. Unless there is unity in the organization and all are ready to work for the party rather than for their personal ambition, Congress will rule for ever. BJP must immediately patch up with Yedurappa and make him CM. 4.       BJP must give more seats to Middle Aged Leaders and Women. 40 to 50 % percent of the seats must be contested by women. 5.       BJP must improve its Secular Image. BJP must improve its secular image by inducting more Muslim candidates and nominating Sushma Swaraj as its PM candidate. 6.       BJP must improve its campaigning. It must understand what people want. Article 372, Ram Mandir, Swadeshi, corruption and price rise are irrelevant. Drinking water, electricity, good roads and public transport, job and earning opportunities, timely supply of seeds and fertilizers, bank credit without bribing bank managers, security for women, stopping exploitation and bullying by police, political cadres, educational institutions and anti socials are important. BJP campaigning should focus on these issues. Conclusion Your elevation to the post of Party President in light of BJP’s electoral performance under your guidance in 2009 polls is surprising. I suppose no one else volunteered for the job or no one else was acceptable. Your initial moves about Karnataka and Modi do not inspire confidence. You have two options; continue present policies till BJP is finished or change tack and lead it to victory. RSS has two options; change with times and allow BJP freedom of action or be consigned to the history books.