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Different or just indifferent?

Different or just indifferent?

Author: T R Jawahar
Publication: News Today
Date: June 14, 2008
URL: http://newstodaynet.com/col.php?section=20&catid=30

I have no clue where in the sky cloud nine is, but that is where the BJP is supposed to be residing presently. With back to back victories in successive State elections, Delhi is no longer a distant destination as it seemed after the electoral banishment of '04. But if the party truly wishes to start 'shining' again, it must necessarily emerge from the said cloud nine, wherever it is, and come down to earth.

And the landing may not be soft given the ill-fitting, uncertain wheels of alliances. The road to the Capital is again littered with hurdles and blocks. And I am not just referring to the forthcoming assembly polls in Rajasthan, MP and Chattisgarh where the BJP is the incumbent. Reverses here would doubtless put the clock back on the party's Delhi dreams. It may still limp its way through ahead of the Cong which is suffering from worse handicaps. But assuming the BJP's current winning streak continues, is it deliverance for the nation?

Of course, it is so for the party and more particularly, its PM candidate LK..Advani. At 82, with more years to look back on than forward to, it would undoubtedly be a consummation well deserved. A man with a clean image and cleaner habits, there are very few who can match his credentials in politics and public office. But can crowning Advani as Prime Minister be the prime goal of the party? During ABV's stewardship, the routine refrain of the party was that those who accept him as PM were possible allies. Today, LKA has become the PM bait for allies to bite. So is acceptance of Advani a pre-condition for alliance? Now, is Afzal Guru, who has declared his preference for Advani as PM, a potential ally? But forget the ludicrous logic. Should the BJP, having criticised the Congress for eternity, too step into the personality-above-principle quicksand? Projecting a PM candidate is indeed a plus but should policies and programmes be made subservient to it?

We know ideology is deemed excess baggage on the passage to Delhi. But should even fatal experiences be ignored as inexpedient? Take for instance the BJP's overtures to Jayalalithaa. The latter is yet to 'promise' PM-ship to LKA but let's assume she will, if 'other things' get sorted out. She pulled the plug on Vajpayee in 1999, but the BJP in all amnesia went with her in 2004. And lost as comprehensively as was possible. But even that can pass off as a political gamble that did not click. But what about her hounding of the Kanchi acharyas? Now how does the BJP, the guardian of sadhus, shrines and Sanathana dharma itself, gloss over that assault? Or will Advani's ambition overwhelm all such uncomfortable history? But a true anti-climax would be an NDA-regime with the DMK back in it. For it would not matter to K if Advani or even Afzal is PM as long as his own clan and some chosen co-borns are in the power loop. Indeed, the choice for Advani, and the TN voter himself, is really between Sethu-busters and Mutt-busters. But with very little to lose or gain here, should the BJP sully its hands with Dravidian dirt?

Though Modi won Gujarat for the BJP on the plank of good governance and development with only sprinklings of Hindutva, the more secular than thou media dismissed it as a triumph of communalism. Post Karnataka polls, however, some such traditional BJP baiters perceive a virtue and are ready to offer a concession: the BJP can become the natural party of governance in the country if it 'secularises' itself adequately, to their satisfaction, that is. They seem to be more sure of the BJP's success than the BJP itself. But really, their pat is a left handed compliment, a trap to put the party on the defensive on its pet themes; Vajpayee, with a poetic penchant for posterity, was an easy victim to the lure of a moderate face, nay, mask. But if hawkish Advani could be tamed too, would that not be a shot in the arm of secularism? What better way to halt the rath in its tracks than by cutting off the ideological reins? In any case, it is a better option than propping a lame-duck Congress and trusting it to beat BJP! Hence the secular endearments to LKA, innuendos having failed. Now, the moot question is: is LKA falling for the ploy? Is the man who popularised the phrase 'pseudo secularism' becoming 'pseudo communal' from being 'wholesome communal' as in the past? The secular as well as the communal jury is out on that!

Now, the communal tag as a gag on the BJP is a familiar secular tactic. Sure, the BJP is the biggest beneficiary of the communal polarisation in the country, but it is not the sole cause as has always been projected. For decades on, the Congress, Left & Co., have been getting away with pampering the minorities invariably at the expense of the rest. The latter in typical indifference had never grudged that all along but times have changed. The restive populace has grown deeply suspicious of the motives and actions of the secularists that have rendered them vulnerable to jihadis on the security front and evangelists on the social front. Even now, when the need of the hour is a noose around Afzal, what we get instead is a Sachar. Such skewed secularism has ever been fertile ground for the BJP.

Sure, successive polls have proved that local and livelihood issues matter most for the multitudes and they would not mind giving the boot to the BJP if their lot is let down. (This is often interpreted as secularism in full flow). But having said that, the fact is, unlike other parties, BJP will not be judged solely by economic yardsticks because it claims to be the postal address for Bharat's soul. It is, therefore, morally incumbent on the BJP to clarify to its core constituency that had elevated it, to the unsung parivar that forms its cadre, to the people seeking relief from the oppressive appeasement politics, to its fair-weather allies, to the p-secs on the fence and to the critics waiting in the wings on where it stands on primary issues of principle. Ideological hide and seek will fool none. Much less the furore it is kicking up over rising prices of food and fuel. We know the oil barrel would explode to $200 by the time LKA occupies PMO, if he does. So, what is the assurance that NDA will succeed where UPA has failed? Unless the fight against inflation is just an alibi to make Advani PM?
The party with a difference should speak the truth: About its action plan on terrorism, economy and cultural nationalism. That would make a real difference to a polity reeling under a tsunami of pseudos. And Advani could still make it to the PMO, straight from cloud nine ...wherever it is!

- trjawahar@vsnl.net

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