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Whither BJP? What to do with the Hindu rage?

Whither BJP? What to do with the Hindu rage?

Author: Prafull Goradia, General Secretary, Jana Sangh
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 1, 2005

The BJP is a scabbard carrying two swords, one of Hindu nationalism and the other of Gandhian socialism, an euphemism for a Nehruvian programme. The two are unable to combine with each other; they are contradictions. Unless the two separate, the party is likely to suffer from a chakkajaam.

On having to leave the Janata Party in 1980, led by AB Vajpayee, the BJP was formed. The core of the new party's ideology was declared as Gandhian socialism. In his inaugural speech, he clarified that the new party had little to do with the Jana Sangh which was centred on Hindutva. The word sangh was excluded from the party's name lest it be obviously associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Evidently, the people, or rather the voters, did not applaud this dissociation from Hindutva. They returned only two representatives to the Lok Sabha during the 1984 general election. Soon thereafter, LK Advani, who was perceived to be close to the RSS, replaced Vajpayee as the party president. He went out of his way to expose the hypocrisy of the self- styled secularists. He repeatedly called them pseudo secular. Meanwhile, the environment warmed up to Hindutva due to the agitation by the VHP for the building of a grand temple of Ramlalla. The request for at least one Ramsheela or brick from every village motivated large tracts of rural India.

The intelligentsia was upset with the Congress and other secularists due to the overturning of the Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case. Advani's slogan of pseudo-secularism carried all the more conviction. In the 1989 general election, the BJP became the largest non-Congress party. But VP Singh had to be supported as Prime Minister to ensure the Left Front's help. By 1990, Singh went on the offensive with Mandalism. The BJP had reason to be anxious which, in turn, induced the legendary rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. In the 1991 election, the BJP improved its Lok Sabha tally further despite the perceived martyrdom of Rajiv Gandhi.

The Babri Masjid fell in December 1992 and the excited Hindus saw hope in the BJP as the deliverer of Hindu asmita or pride. The party itself had remained largely unchanged in its outlook and did not claim any credit for the demolition at Ayodhya. In fact, its leaders regretted the event, a gesture overlooked by the people generally. Hopes ran high when the BJP official manifesto for the 1996 and 1998 general election contained the promise of the temple at Ayodhya. In the popular perception, whether Hindu, Christian or Muslim, BJP was Hindutva and Hindutva was BJP.

The 1999 general election programme produced another illusion. Articles 44 (Uniform Civil Code) and 370 (J&K) were placed on the backburner by the BJP in order to placate the NDA coalition partners. People took these clauses as also two other facets of Hindutva, the third being Ayodhya. Almost everyone overlooked the fact that these were articles in the Constitution which came into force in January 1950 much before even the Jana Sangh was founded. If anything, the articles could be called Nehrutva but certainly not Hindutva. yet the people believed what they did and the party allowed them to cherish the illusion.

Relegating promises to the backburner did disappoint the Hindu voters somewhat, especially in UP where the Lok Sabha seat harvest dropped sharply. Overall the BJP retained this total of 183 or so seats. But this was notwithstanding the Kargil war which had aroused a great patriotic sentiment all of which went to the credit of the BJP. The following five years were all a disappointment for the Hindu voter and especially for the Parivar's loyal cadres.

A greater disillusionment to them was the duplicity of Vajpayee. He repeatedly produced the threat of the NDA breaking up if Hindutva points were pressed by the RSS. Yet no coalition partner resigned over the riots in Gujarat. Chandra Babu Naidu even asked for the resignation of Narendra Modi but did nothing more. The message to the RSS was obvious: Vajpayee was using the NDA ghost as a balance against the Sangh. He wished to appear indispensable so that the RSS does not object to his being PM as it had to Mr Jaswant Singh becoming finance minister in 1998.

If the BJP were to become a truly pro-Hindu party, an expanding constituency awaits to embrace it. Assam, Bihar and UP, where the Muslims reside in large numbers, the Hindus feel increasingly threatened. The UPA government is behaving as if it is a pro-Muslim coalition. The Left front is virtually a B team of the Muslim League. There is a gathering Hindu backlash which today feels it has nowhere to go. Unfortunately, the BJP is a chariot with two saffron horses and three animals whose breed is a cross between saffron and green The chariot would run much farther with only two horses rather than with two divided by three. A separation is inevitable; if not soon, it would be soon after the venerable dwi-murthy retires.

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