Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jinnah fixation turns fatal for BJP

ood or bad, only thinking makes it so. So believed Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, and so wishes Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But who knows not, not something, but everything is rotten in the state of BJP.

Now that octogenarian Lal Krishna Advani is going to “revitalise” the party under pressure from Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), BJP hopes of ending its month-long crisis triggered by its former minister Jaswant Singh and his book Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence. But problems within the BJP are more ideological than leadership or the consecutive defeats in the 2001, 2009 general elections. There were dissident voices even before Jaswant episode, but party president Rajnath Singh and Advani were able to handle them. Jaswant exploded it outside the party periphery and there was nothing before the party than expelling him what they thought might be a one-man rebellion.

What was Jaswant’s unpardonable guilt? Writing a book with free-thinking? According to him, the party was well aware of his rewriting on Jinnah’s role in Indian Independence and Partition. He was not the first BJP leader to accept Jinnah, the charismatic Muslim leader of the pre-Independence India who became instrumental in the formation of Pakistan, as a “true Indian.” Even Advani had done it two years back.

So why did Advani find it out as a reason to oust the former defence minister? Isn’t it to show that he is still capable of taking decisions and thrust his leadership quality? Or is it a jealousy over his colleague who drew attention by writing a book on his favourite topic. If Advani became instrumental in the expulsion of Jaswant Singh, he himself has invited the same for him. But RSS, who is behind all the drama, says “Advani is not going anywhere,” he will be there to strengthen the (shattered) party. They wanted Advani himself to clear the damage he had done to the saffron party.

Jinnah’s soul may be laughing at this Indian fixation for him. According to Jaswant, it was not Jinnah, but India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who had made India split into two countries, namely the Hindu majority India and Muslim majority Pakistan. The book, which Jaswant tried to make a hero out of Jinnah, unravels the ideological variances that have been a bone of contention ever since BJP came up in 1980 as an offshoot of RSS.

The Jinnah fixation for RSS and its core party members BJP, Sangh Parivar and Viswa Hindu Parishad is related to its intention to make a strong foothold among the electorate. They used Jinnah to talk about undivided India and were successful in creating Muslim hatred among Hindus as well as strengthening the party. So how could a party whose base is formed out of Jinnah hatred accept Jaswant’s bluffs?

It was during post-Babri time that difference of opinion over party’s core ideology began to spruce up, with a section of BJP asking for restraint. To be specific, quoting Arun Shourie, the one-time journalist and intellectual, BJP literally became a “kati patang”(wandering kite) for the first time not knowing whether to stick on with Hindutva ideology or make use of it to stick to its parliamentary goals. After assuming power at Centre in 1999, obviously with the help of Babri Masjid demolition, the party realised the advantage of combining principles of communal politics and party ideology.

BJP decided to shed its hardcore communal policies and focused on development projects with “India Shining” campaign to survive in parliamentary politics. RSS was not ready to accept this sudden image makeover. Ignoring RSS, Vajpayee and his colleagues showed the moral courage to dilute the party codes without challenging the party ethics. BJP deliberately distanced from its mother party. Vajpayee could also become the first and only non-Congress prime minister to complete the 5-year full term of parliament too.

But the consecutive elections underlined BJP was wrong in their conception. More than a pat to BJP, the 1999 victory was a verdict against the Congress, who boasted of secular credentials. The BJP victory was nothing but a harsh reply to the Narasimha Rao-led Congress government which was at the Centre during mosque demolition and the party chief late Rajiv Gandhi who did nothing to prevent the hooliganism of VHP and Sangh Parivar at Ayodya. So the masses, who trusted Congress for decades, voted against the grand old party as they did to the only woman prime minister Indira Gandhi during the 1976-77 Emergency period.

Unlike in other parts of the world, in India religion is a personal issue, and majority of Indians do not mix politics with their religious beliefs. When the BJP understood this “double” mentality of the common man, it was too late. If the party has done “Chintan Baitak” like the Shimla retrospection earlier, it would have not become a butt of ridicule as it appears now. Though the Shimla meeting decided to rethink on Hindutva usage, Advani in a hideous rashness took the decision to oust Jaswant. Followed by this we heard many dissident voices, Vasundhare Raje Scindia, Sudhjeendra Kulkarni, BC Khanduri, Arun Shourie and many other senior leaders who were not quoted in media expressed dissatisfaction over Advani’s leadership.

Shourie likened the BJP to a “kati patang” and its president Rajnath Singh to “Alice in Blunderland” and “Humpty Dumpty.” He raised his voice for RSS intervention for a radical revamp of the party by doing away with top brass and infusing young blood into the party leadership. Though Shourie’s eloquence made RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat come out in the open suggesting do’s and don’ts for its coveted kid party, he denies any indulgence in the BJP. Even after having consultations with BJP leaders, he says it is an internal problem of BJP and they have to solve it themselves.

It is utter foolishness from RSS to think that people believe their hollow statements. May be they are trying to make people think that BJP is still away from Hindutva ideology. When BJP cadres themselves don’t know what to believe in, BJP should show the courage to announce whether it is a communal party or ‘party with a difference” which it had promoted during the elections.
But with the new developments of RSS showing keen interest in the affairs of BJP, it is vividly clear that BJP is losing its built-up ‘difference’ image and is going back to its communal roots. No other chance is left for BJP, just to embrace it’s mother party to overcome the widening crisis over ideology and leadership. May be revamping will help its cadres to believe that saffron is not losing its colour. 

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