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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 43, October 10, 2009

The Withering Lotus

Sunday 11 October 2009, by S.K. Dutta

The way things are happening in the BJP it seems it’s heading towards the doomsday. Two election debacles have had a catastrophic affect on the party. The unexpected defeat in 2004 and the near washout in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls have taken a heavy toll on the party and the BJP today seems to be a party which is rudderless.

For finding out as to what has gone wrong with the BJP one has to look at it very deeply. The problem with the party today is that it is not headed by a single centre but is controlled by many centres. The National President of the party, its seems, has no control over it. Every passing day we find one or the other of the second-line leaders within the party shooting his or her mouth off with some controversial remarks in front of the media thereby creating more and more problems for the party and its extended parivar.

Since the day Rajnath Singh was made the President the party has become directionless. Perhaps the biggest mistake of the RSS was to make Rajnath Singh the National President as it appears that the post of the President of the BJP has turned out to be too big a shoe for Singh to manage. Singh as a leader even today doesn’t have a pan-Indian identity or a pan-Indian vision. His biggest problem is his typical North Indian Thakur tag which perhaps has made his tenure so controversial and eventless. A big problem of the BJP President is that he has no control over his colleagues as most of them are of his age or of the same experience and many of them are elder to him with years of experience in politics.

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The BJP today has many if not at least two power centres, one of L.K. Advani and the weaker one of Rajnath Singh, both of which are at loggerheads with each other. This has had a cascading effect on the downfall of the BJP; but it has also made the whole of the NDA a very weak and discredited lot. If the Sangh Parivar and the NDA leadership don’t take immediate corrective measures the whole of the BJP and NDA might crumble like a house of cards which would be detrimental to Indian politics and Indian democracy in the long run as for a healthy democracy and an accountable government at the Centre it is very important to have a strong Opposition.

Advani should have gracefully retired from national politics the moment the Indian masses rejected him as the new Prime Minister after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. But perhaps no one except Advani would know as to why he didn’t gracefully retire like Vajpayee after the poll defeat. The biggest mistake on part of the BJP in the 2009 elections was its negative agenda and its personal slander campaign. Its was the biggest political blunder on the part of Advani to call Dr Manmohan Singh a night watchman; it didn’t go down well with the Indian electorate, specially the youth.

The Jaswant Singh episode in the BJP once again proves that in the Sangh Parivar there is no place for saner voices and liberal thoughts. Whether Jinnah was solely responsible for the partition of the country or whether he was secular or not is a debatable issue but to expel a stalwart from the BJP only because he had a different viewpoint in his book smacks of all political decency and the so-called “Advani hand†behind it makes Advani look very low in the eyes of the intellectuals. If the Sangh and the BJP are so passionate about the preservation of their hard-core ideology then why was no action taken against Advani himself when he had first portrayed Jinnah as a secular man and then sung paeans to him in Pakistan during the BJP leader’s last visit to that country? Why was Advani not expelled then from the party? Two sets of laws for two individuals for the same kind of offence no longer works in Indian politics.

The biggest political duplicity and hypocrisy on the part of the BJP since its seizure of power in 1998 has been to behave in a dual manner when it came to its core ideological issues. Talking about the Ram Mandir only to gain votes before the elections and then forgetting about it after the elections and using the name of Lord Ram just for votes has totally exposed the party before the Indian masses. Hard-core supporters of the temple movement today find themselves cheated by the Sangh Parivar. Its seems the curse of Lord Ram has befallen the BJP. To rub salt to the hurt sentiments was the Jinnah episode of Advani and the masses taught the party and Advani a proper lesson in the 2009 elections by dumping them once and for all.

It’s time for the BJP and Sangh Parivar to understand their basic flaws and plug the loopholes. In the present circumstances and the situation which India is facing internally as well as in the midst of the challenges it is encountering from outside, it is very important to have a strong united Opposition party which should be effective enough to pressurise the government as such. The BJP and NDA have to place their house in order soon. One cannot expect any positive contribution from the Indian Left at this juncture. Thus the role of the BJP becomes more vital. The Sangh and Rajnath Singh have to realise that the hard-core Hindutva ideology no longer pays in the modern globalised India. The present generation is not attracted to the khaki-nikkar vision of the Sangh. The Sangh has to change its mindset; otherwise it would perish. As long as it advocates secular nationalism that is fine with all but the moment it upholds a communal form of nationalism, as projected by the Sangh, the problem arises. This is what the Sangh has to realise.

If it does not realise this soon then what has befallen the BJP would befall the Sangh tomorrow. After all, India is a nation of Ram and Rahim, this is what the Sangh has to understand. Ramji will be happy the moment the BJP understands this—perhaps that day Lord Ram will free the Sangh Parivar from his divine curse.

The author is a well-known media personality, foreign affairs expert and political analyst.

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