BJP: Back To Basics
– Lal Bahadur Singh
So, the new ‘soft liner’ of
Hindutva brigade, the new
born Mr. Secular Shri Lal Krishna Advani is the new Prime Ministerial face of the Parivar, while the RSS-handpicked Swayamsevak Rajnath Singh is the new BJP Chief, who has declared his unflinching commitment to the RSS, reasserting the core Hindutva issues -Ram Temple, Uniform Civil Code, Article 370, and “infiltration” from Bangladesh. Those who harbour liberal illusions and write Advani’s obituary - exaggerating the differences between Advani and the RSS, equating Advani with Mauli Chandra Sharma and Balraj Madhok, the two ex-presidents of Bharatiya Jan Sangh who had fallen victim to the disgrace of RSS, are likely to be disappointed ultimately.
By its silver jubilee year, BJP has certainly travelled a long distance. If we take into account its predecessor Bharatiya Jan Sangh too, then from an insignificant political force in fifties and sixties, far behind the Communists and Socialists, and just one among many contending opposition parties in 70s and 80s, they managed to emerge in 90s as the leading contingent of a national coalition ruling for full 6 years, and today they are virtually occupying the entire parliamentary oppositional space, thanks to the utter bankruptcy of the official left.
However, all is not well with the nearly century-old Hindutva, the Indian brand of fascism; as categorically admitted by Advani himself during the jubilee celebrations in Bombay, the “last 25 weeks proved more costly than the achievements of 25 years”.
Declining political fortunes, power struggle at the highest levels, rampant indiscipline, exposure of financial corruption and sex scandal - these were the hallmarks of the saffron fraternity in the jubilee year of its political front, exploding convincingly the myth of “Party with a difference” and the self-acclaimed high moral ground of RSS. In the Joshi CD case, what was perhaps more significant was the report that it was masterminded from within the Parivar itself! All this shocked those who took Hindutva`s claims at face value, and regarded it as an ideologically oriented, value-based, disciplined organisation. But this contradiction is inbuilt in the very logic of fascist movements. Fascist movements, meant to serve the interests of the most reactionary sections of the ruling classes, always develop by recruiting all sorts of unscrupulous elements in their ranks. So Modis, Mahajans, Joshis and the ‘stupid’ MPs caught on camera are not exceptions in a fascist fraternity.
But the more fundamental aspect of the present crisis in the saffron camp is at the level of political line and leadership. Having betrayed the expectations of its supporters during its uninterrupted 6-year-long rule at the Centre, and with its ‘party with a difference’ image blown to pieces, BJP today faces the uphill task of winning back and expanding its social base as well as simultaneously maintaining old and winning new allies. Now in the changed times of 2006,neither unleashing a new wave of communal hysteria, in a repeat performance of the Mandir movement nor maintaining the united front with this renewed zeal for Hindutva, will be easy. Some of its allies are already showing restlessness and distancing themselves from it.
It is doubtful if the change of guard in the BJP will resolve the crisis as its roots are much deeper .The conclave has failed to come up with anything new in terms of orientation, policy, tactics, or programme of action which may turn the tide. As for the credentials of the new President Rajnath Singh, it is not long back that he had become a “liability” for BJP as UP Chief Minister. His regime was notorious for its violation of human rights, patronage of mafia forces, caste politics and police highhandedness. He first came to limelight as a UP Minister when he, in open violation of all civilized norms, ordered framing criminal cases against students and even teachers accused of copying in exams! Many students, including girls, were handcuffed and sent to jails, and some, out of utter humiliation, committed suicide. The other hallmark of his regime was the Bhavanipur massacre - the biggest ever massacre in UP, in which 16 dalit-tribal youth were shot dead in a fake encounter in presence of his handpicked police top brass.
And last but not least, factionalism in the UP BJP is bound to return with a vengeance. The real target of Kalyan Singh‘s new found jehad against criminalisation on the floor of the Silver Jubilee Conclave was none else but the President designate Rajnath Singh. Combined with the offensive of yet another OBC leader Uma Bharati, one of the most powerful Hindutva campaigners, this renewed factionalism can only damage BJP in MP as well as UP.
However Hindutva‘s potential to re-emerge can be ignored by democratic forces only at their own peril, given the ever-fertile ground provided by today’s India for fascist mobilizations as well as the BJP’s enviable position as the oppositional pole at the national level vis-à-vis Congress led Govt. We cannot forget that Hindutva, all through its chequered history, has shown the potential to rise from the ashes again and again, accumulating strength by utilizing parliamentary avenues, popular mass movements as well as fascist mobilisations, as and when possible.