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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 26, June 15, 2013

IPS among the Rightwing

Saturday 15 June 2013, by Badri Raina

Those of us who grew up generally within the intellectual and political culture of the Left soon learnt to have a very different meaning for the acronym IPS than Indian Police Service. More troublesomely, it meant Inner-Party Struggle.

Such struggles within Left organisations, we soon discovered, issued usually from highly committed immersions in elaborate analytic readings into texts and histories, skirting mere personalities or events as objects of study in favour of the large current of ideas that were seen to condition and shape their possibilities.

As is well recognised, such contentions have often led beyond compromise to principled parting of ways among comrades worldwide, often yielding many different Left organisations who invariably came in time to spend much of their energy in lambasting the “incorrect” political understanding and line of action of the other while their primary antagonists flourished in less literate but more canny ways.  Inevitably, this contention among several “correct” lines, seductive in its claims, exertions, and challenges to the educated mind, has unfortunately also tended to debilitate the historical effectivity of the Left. For example, even as the contention within our own erstwhile undivided CPI with regard to the nature of the Indian state and the stage of our development in the early sixties seemed such a consequential one, the split resulting from it in 1964 has not but had its inevitably sorry consequences for Indian Left politics in general. A weakening that was further aggravated with yet another principled split, as radical sections among the new CPI-M chose to opt for a more militant course.

To be fair to the Centrist Congress party, even if there be any truth to the view that there has been divergence between party and government, it has, by common admission, borne not on pushing personal stakes but on some issues of public policy.

In the universe of Rightwing politics, however, inner-party struggles, wherever such a thing has surfaced, have usually been matters far less complicated. Generally, bookish immersions and burning the midnight oil have not been any great part of such Rightwing contentions. More often than not, animosities among Rightwing formations have borne upon contending cliques and personalities rather than any discernable contentions with respect to competing ideas or lines of thought.

Of the truth of this proposition, there seems no better demonstration than the current IPS within our own Bharatiya Janata Party.

If it be agreed that the two formidable intellectual planks within which the BJP tends to confine its identity and praxis are Hindutva  and development, then it will be seen that there is little disagreement among BJP stalwarts who are now so openly involved in a mutual polemic. At the least, none of these worthies is likely, unlike those among the Left, to come out openly or in a discussion paper to challenge the politics either of Hindutva or of their agreed version of development.

The contention thus seems to bear upon the aggressive putsch by one among them to want to lead the task of Hindutva and development, if necessary to the relegation of party mores and structures. This wholly self-regarding determination on behalf of one man among them who seems so obviously to have successfully cannabalised the party within his own State, and who has shown the will to disregard the claims and fate of even those erstwhile loyalists who have killed on his behalf—many think on his behest—is then seen by some others not as some challenge to ideas they do not like or espouse but to their personal eventualities within the party they have served in various capacities. Much as they would not mind a dictatorial direction given to Indian democracy, they fear much the prospect of becoming victims within their own political formation of such a dictatorial trend. IPS within the BJP thus is better understood as Inter-Personal Struggle than anything else.

The conclusion of this struggle will, however, carry within it extremely important lessons and consequences for the state and polity on a broader scale, not to speak of shaping India’s Rightwing politics for better or worse, with commensurate implications for Indian democracy overall.

That many of the claims peddled by the aspirant-in-arms are now receiving exposure from important voices from within the BJP must be seen as a turn of events that can facilitate other saner segments of India’s political life strengthening their exertions on behalf of constitutional propriety and a culture of genuinely truthful governance.

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