New Delhi: The Narendra Modi factor or wave would not be admitted or recognized even after he becomes prime minister, so the Gujarat chief minister should benignly ignore his detractors in the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and in the mainstream media, and focus on doing what he does best, which is planning, managing and winning elections. Modi stopped the Aam Admi Party’s avalanche in Delhi despite being handicapped by the delay in naming a clean chief minister candidate and by the moribund state of the party in the national capital, corrupted and eviscerated by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi establishment, which was plugging for the dubious Vijay Goel to the last. On the other hand, Narendra Modi’s campaign increased Shivraj Chauhan’s majority in Madhya Pradesh although he would be loath graciously to accept it; pushed Vasundhara Raje to the pinnacle in Rajasthan, which she promptly acknowledged; and enabled a third term for Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh.

Knowing Modi’s background and impulses, he cannot be satisfied with the Delhi results, but the Bharatiya Janata Party’s firm decision not to seek to form a government in the circumstances, which is attributed to him, and is entirely in character, redeems and raises the party’s image. Given the sensitivity of Delhi politics, he would want a clean convincing win for the party, and if both he and Arvind Kejriwal remain firm in their stand and polls become inevitable within six months, in which case they would be timed with the general election, it is all the better for him. In this space, he can get down to overhauling the party apparatus in the capital, snap its corrupt and debilitating ties with the Delhi establishment, and strike out with great vigour. Setbacks and suboptimal performances drive Narendra Modi harder and he is forever in the learning mode, and he will not permit the Aam Admi Party to spring another surprise.

Which brings to the core of the issue, which is Narendra Modi’s battle for supremacy with the Delhi establishment of his own party. Lest what follows be construed as coming from Narendra Modi’s side, the record must be set straight. This writer has kept himself at a distance from all political quarters, not met the Gujarat chief minister in decades or his officials in months (nor considers himself consequential to their plans), and that is how it will remain in the foreseeable future. Power is best observed and understood at a remove because it cannot then draw you into its venal embrace, and there is no reason for this writer, a very reluctant political analyst, if that, to change the terms of engagement. Anyhow, the scudding clouds bring darkness for Narendra Modi from his own party bigwigs in Delhi, and his immediate campaign must have to concentrate in this region.

It is a little tragic that Modi who is destined to transform India fills so many of his own failed party leaders with envy, who are determined to sabotage his rise even at the cost of giving a helping hand to the discredited United Progressive Alliance. Because the Delhi establishment is so opposed to him, he finds himself hamstrung, for example, in resurrecting the party in the capital, which is the only way to meet the challenge of the Aam Admi Party, which, if you care to examine carefully, is a vehicle of protest and not governance. It has no vision, and though it has thoughtful leaders like Yogendra Yadav, they form a minority. But Modi would be able to win Delhi if he breaks up the Delhi establishment, and for starters, this means parcelling some of its hopeless leaders to the states. Sushma Swaraj, for example, is a clear drag on the party, and barring her parliamentary oratory, has made no contribution to the growth of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The last time she was Delhi’s chief minister, she sank the party for 15 years. If Swaraj is moved to Haryana where she commenced her political career, and is charged with bringing the state to the party fold and to curtail Arvind Kejriwal’s fledgling ambitions there, it will give her purpose. Plotting Modi’s fall will obsess her less. She can even aim for parity with the likes of Vasundhara Raje. With Swaraj relocated, Advani would be circumscribed in his machinations, and the Congress will have less sway over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi establishment. And it would open the way for Narendra Modi to make the party fighting fit before the general election.

No political party can succeed that is pulled in a hundred different directions. Without going to the extreme of dynastic politics, political parties have to be strongly centralized, its central leadership being a gift and a product of meritocracy and popular success. By himself, Rajnath Singh does not make the grade as president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, but the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangha wisely chose him to be an agency for the exhibition and play of Narendra Modi’s political genius. So far, the arrangement has worked, and there is no reason to burden the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime minister candidate with the day-to-day affairs of the party. But since Modi has proved by these just-concluded elections to possess the best strategic skills in the Bharatiya Janata Party, he must be given total control of the 2014 campaign without necessarily formalizing that responsibility. After all, personally speaking, he has the most stakes in the general election, and the Delhi establishment must not be permitted any scope to put roadblocks in his way. There simply cannot be a repeat of the Aam Admi Party Halloween prank.

After the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangha, the Sangha cadres form Narendra Modi’s biggest support base. Indeed, they propelled him to his present eminence. So Narendra Modi’s 2014 campaign has to be so designed that he is constantly engaged with the cadres and the leaders the cadres prefer. Harsh Vardhan is indubitably one of them. He may have zero charisma, but he would make a decent, honest and good chief minister for Delhi. Too long the Bharatiya Janata Party has functioned as a B-team of the Congress. The dynastic Congress is sunk. The only hope for the Bharatiya Janata Party is to dismantle the Delhi establishment, and to transfer power to the cadres. Solely Narendra Modi has the all-India capacity to energize the cadres and to reform the Bharatiya Janata Party, and he cannot -- and he won’t -- rest on the laurels that the assembly elections have brought. Significantly, his visit to Delhi following the victories was brief and businesslike, and he shunned the media, which doesn’t deserve better. It would appear that Modi does not like Delhi’s durbari political culture and its bias for backroom deals. His poll campaigns have been mostly planned and organized from Gandhinagar, and this physical seclusion from Delhi has worked to his benefit. Till he occupies the corner office in South Block, there may be no reason to change this regime.