Elections present an opportunity to a country to renew itself. Held too often, elections can become counter-productive, whilst also bleeding the treasury. It also keeps the country in election mode, where populism is privileged over good work, and destroys the confidence of the political class. But sometimes, a situation becomes so unworkable, as now, that elections alone can sort it out. 

Congress and UPA do not want elections for understandable reasons. They will lose them whenever they are held, and the loss will be shocking. Except the aberration of the Emergency which prolonged her regime, Indira Gandhi did not fear elections. If she were in Sonia Gandhi's place as Congress president (although, of course, she would also have been prime minister), she would have gone for snap polls. Indira Gandhi was a great one for turning her back on Delhi, and throwing herself at the feet of voters, who massively redeemed her trust. 

Understanding that Congress cannot do this (it has nobody of Indira Gandhi's stature), why can't BJP, the principal party of the opposition, appear more enthusiastic about elections? Granted, it is not in its hands but that of the ruling establishment to call for early elections, by why can't it appear less fearful of them? On the surface, every BJP leader is a tiger for elections, but privately, they whimper as lambs. Politicians and political parties forget that what they are on the interior matters as much or more than the facade they present to the world, and even without Wikileaks, these two facets must be reconciled. Sixty years of republican democracy has sensitized the electorate to catch the hidden signals whilst spurning political advertisement. 

The tragedy of BJP is that it is lost in the woods of coalition politics, and seeks no way out of it. As leader of the NDA coalition, BJP has a responsibility to keep it intact, but not at irreparable cost to itself. See how Nitish Kumar conducts himself. He considers BJP as no more than an alliance partner, to be dumped when the situation demands, as happened with Pranab Mukherjee's election as President. He is open to allying with anybody in the Centre in 2014 who gives Bihar special status. No one can accuse Nitish Kumar of saying one thing in public and privately doing the opposite. And he hasn't lost political traction for his forthrightness. 

This magazine and this writer were alone in the media to advise BJP to stick to the blocking of Parliament on Coalgate. Not only would this serve to re-focus attention on Coalgate, it would also give a chance to the party to break away from the coalition mould to re-establish its own identity. Predictably, Congress and UPA, assisted by some newspapers, played divide and rule. As always, Nitish Kumar's JD-U was willing to break ranks with BJP and back the government. Other NDA allies of BJP were growing restive too. 

But BJP stuck to its guns. It was firm and polite. It made clear it was unshakeable in its position to block Parliament on the issue of Coalgate, and it was unaffected by whoever rejected its position. Its tough stand sent a blunt message to its allies. The tail could no more wag the dog. The Monsoon session was a washout, but Coalgate couldn't be suppressed with a phoney debate in Parliament as Congress and UPA desired. 

That principle, of going alone if necessary, must animate BJP again as it confronts the latest reform shenanigans of Manmohan Singh. On his 80th birthday, his countrymen would only wish that he proceeds to retirement quickly without ruining their happiness further, and BJP can make that possible if it consciously strives to appear ready and cheerful for early elections. Its doughtiest leader, Narendra Modi, never seems to fear elections, nor do such non-BJP chief ministers as J.Jayalalithaa, Mamata Bannerjee, Naveen Patnaik and Nitish Kumar. It is those who are used to the comforts of Delhi who are terrified of polls, and BJP must cut away from this defeatist mindset. 

There are no two ways about the fact that people are sick and tired of the Manmohan Singh government. They dread pauperization in two more years of Manmohan Singh's prime-ministership. BJP cannot afford to be laid-back in such circumstances. A passive anti-incumbency sentiment would likely make it the single largest party in the next election, but it can ride to power on its own if it has the will for it, challenges UPA head-on, and re-engages the nation pro-actively. In their mind, BJP leaders must distance from NDA, and seize the political hour, so to speak. They must expend their energies on engaging the people directly, and not attempt at brokering a way to power via NDA. 

In all this, Indira Gandhi must serve as their guiding light, even as her own party turns chicken on elections. 

Put faith in voters, be true to your cause, and the rewards will be handsome.