Bhartiya Janata Party is an incredible unit. Old (and discarded) leaders keep sighing from time to time. Some croon a discordant tune sporadically. Some leaders endorse radical outlooks and go to any lengths to justify their absurd rants but it is somewhat safe to assume that BJP is a much organized team now. The factions have been either dissolved or have been rendered powerless. Loudmouths have been neutralized. Amit Shah has a strong hold on the team and he is doing his job pretty well. And then there is Modi, the name that makes them all fall in line.
But there is another BJP team that excels in the art of not making sense. At their sensible best, they make little sense and at the peak of their senselessness, they make sense look like a senseless little thing. With this article I am trying to make sense of this team. I am talking about BJP’s team of spokespersons. They are every news watcher’s delight. They either bully the host and co speakers or get bullied themselves. But making sense is not their cup of tea.
Let us say hello to them:
Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi – Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi is a thorough intellectual. He is well versed with Gita, Vedic learning, astrology and knows all constitutional terms and government processes by heart. The fact that he has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering adds more weight to his impressive resume. He is a patient listener. He seldom interrupts people. He believes in giving space to people. But the problem with Mr. Trivedi is that he is far too intellectual for the debates that happen on TV. He is too patient, too passive and too accommodating hence he ends up smiling more than speaking. Sometimes he gets aggressive too but he looks quite phoney when he does that.
Shri Nalin S. Kohli: Kohli Sahib comes across as a friendly Punjabi uncle from West Delhi. He looks very calm and extremely gentle. He, like his colleague Mr. Trivedi is a patient listener too. But Mr. Kohli does the angry man better than Mr. Trivedi. Kohli Sahib often comes unprepared to television debates and often ends up getting most of the beatings in a TV debate.
Shri GVL Narsimha Rao: Mr. GVLNR is a gem of a person. He is a brilliant guy, a great observer and a noted psephologist. He makes good plans, comes to TV debates with notes, facts and figures. There are two ‘very small’ problems with him, however. One, he speaks roughly 85854446645487 words/minute. The figures may be exaggerated but this is just to give you an idea. So his speech becomes undecipherable for most of the human beings. The second problem with Mr. GVLNR is that he is too sentimental to be a spokesperson. Whenever he is cornered on an issue, his face shows 1000 shades of GVL Narsimha Rao. He starts stuttering and gets overly defensive. Too bad.
Shri Sambit Patra: He is the uncrowned king of all BJP Spokespersons. He must have been pretty famous in his college days for his sharp rebuttals, his sly grins and his ‘sarcy’ (sarcastic) attitude. But then the fact that he is good with word play seems to have gone into his head. “I am sarcy and I know it” keeps playing in his mind and he keeps playing with host, co-speakers, words, phrases, metaphors, analogies, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, coordinate geometry, computer algorithms, basically anything that can be played with. His idea of debate is simple, play around one keyword or key-phrase so any question that the anchor asks gets answered with the same keyword. And then he smiles at the anchor. It looks very amusing in the beginning of the debate but then becomes droning and ultimately senseless.
Syed Shahnawaz Hussain is the only saving grace in this weird team of BJP spokespersons. He weighs people well and rebuts brilliantly and often has facts to back his claims up. There was a time when Ravi Shankar Prasad used to be the spokesperson and boy, wasn’t he brilliant?
The BJP must make a spirited effort to pin the news traders down. BJP needs to secure a strong presence in the media and for that its spokespersons need to perform well. They need to work with a plan and a consistent script. In this regard, BJP spokespersons are inarticulate and more often than not they come across as an imprudent lot. Because of their weak defence BJP comes across as a defensive party and a disoriented unit. It is not always about doing but it is also about saying that you have done it. It is not always about defending but also about attacking. It is not only about speaking but also about making sense.