For the third time in fourteen years, the charioteer of the Sangh Parivar would be hitting the roads again. No sooner had the Election Commission shot down the request for allowing Advani the use of an exclusive IAF aircraft for electioneering, the campaign managers of the BJP were ready with the blueprint of yet another mega chariot show. With the model code of conduct finally stopping the ‘India Shining’ blitzkrieg in the print and electronic media, the burden of propagating the Vajpayee ‘vision’ seems to rest once again on the good old charioteer of the Parivar.
Many BJP watchers have started describing this latest project of Advani as a major exercise in ‘reinventing’ the party. It is also said that the yatra is aimed at positioning Advani as the BJP’s new Vajpayee. After all, it is Advani who has now begun to deflate the NDA’s feel-good balloon by talking about the lack of feel good factor among farmers and even describing the Gujarat genocide as a black spot on NDA’s shining India!
Let us take a closer look at the three yatras and this so-called reinvention of the BJP and repositioning of Advani. The original 1990 yatra and the Ram Janambhoomi campaign had established the BJP as the party of militant Hindutva. The BJP’s parliamentary strength jumped into the critical 100-plus level and geographically too, the party began to acquire an all-India appearance. With the Janata Dal disintegrating, the BJP emerged as the main non-Congress party.
In 1997 Advani embarked on his second yatra which was called the ‘Swarn Jayanti Yatra’. In the name of ‘honouring’ India’s freedom fighters, the BJP not only tried to defuse the most potent charge of its not having played any role in the freedom movement but it also started rehabilitating its own ideological ancestors like Savarkar as freedom fighters, or shall we say ‘freedom fighters with a difference’. The two elections that followed, in 1998 and 1999, saw the BJP emerge as the main ruling party heading an ever-expanding coalition.
The BJP’s old and new-found admirers and endorsers tell us that this tryst with power has brought about a miracle. It has tamed and transformed the BJP. It is no longer the old BJP whining only about Ayodhya and Kashmir, it is now very much a brand new BJP which has moved on beyond Ayodhya and even Gujarat, is bold enough to befriend Pakistan and determined to herald a new era of ‘development’ and ‘good governance’. The present yatra, we are told, is not about raking up conflicts rooted in the past but about chasing a grand dream into the foreseeable future. The truth is the masks called the NDA and its Ayodhya-free agenda have already been ripped off. The BJP desperately needs some new ones.
Till recently the BJP was desperate to market itself as a party with a difference. Now that more and more people have started identifying and diagnosing the difference, the BJP is busy denying it and projecting itself as just a ‘responsible’ rightwing party, maybe a bit like the Blairite ‘New’ Labour, if not like the Reagan-Bush Republicans themselves! But then are not more and more Americans drawing a parallel between Bush and Hitler? Does not every unbridled rightwing agenda lead to a fascistic war on the people?
In their drive to grab power, fascists resort to all kinds of lies and spread every possible illusion. Hitler’s way to power was paved systematically with disinformation. The BJP used the state power in UP and the bankruptcy and impotence of the then Congress government at the Centre to pull down the Babri Masjid and engineer a bloody trail of riots that brought alive the memories of Partition. It then shed some crocodile tears of ‘regret’ and formed two successive coalition governments at the Centre only to orchestrate a genocide in Gujarat. In Madhya Pradesh, Uma Bharti usurped power by flaunting the bijli-sadak-paani agenda and now the Hindutva steamroller is already working overtime.
Power has never tamed fascists. Unrestricted state power is the ultimate fuel that fascism needs to torch an entire people and their land and rights and culture. Adavni’s yatra seeks that fuel to set the country afire.
The only way to tame fascists is to overpower and overthrow them. And the strength to do that lies with the people. The time to invoke and apply that strength starts now.
P.S.: The EC has refused to interfere with Advani’s chariot show. If the need arises the people must and revolutionary communists must do all they can to organise people’s resistance to teach a fitting lesson to the fascists.