Hidden hand that divides
The advantage of getting old is that one can spot charlatans, turncoats easier. You can also see writers, journalists, TV talking heads, and columnists change their tune when their chosen party has taken a beating. Supporters of Hindutva have been particularly good at it. Members of the BJP think tanks are going around as objective news commentators. Some of those who used to hang around with BJP leaders and had flaunted their RSS roots are slowly gravitating towards the ruling Congress party.
In the early 1990s, I distinctly remember many Left-wing commentators and writers dumping their ideology and jholas to jump on to the Hindutva bandwagon. It benefited some ordinary hacks to slime their way to the top echelons of the government It was a good life till the BJP was in power. So desperate were they after the BJP lost power that they allowed themselves to become willing accomplices to bring down the Congress-led government in a cash-for-vote scam during the no-confidence vote last year But their machinations did not work.
Successive defeats for the BJP, first in Parliament and then in some important assembly elections, make it clear that the party is not coming to power at the Centre in any great hurry. RSS, its ideological anchor, to its credit, read the writing on the wall earlier and liberated its followers from voting for a discredited, corrupt and clueless BJP. The Congress party won in 2009 general elections at the expense of the BJP. It got the lowest number of seats since its rise in 1991. Its followers that rode the party to power realised that the Congress was better placed to deliver on fighting Islamic terror and ushering free market policies than the BJP and its discredited saffron-clad supporters. It had something to do with the trenchant support that the US was providing to the Congress party. Traditionally, the BJP swore by the US and lobbied for close ties with them.
Psephologists cannot really pinpoint this phenomenon, but there was a shift of the BJP vote towards the Congress in many areas of the country. This was the reason why all the predictions about the number of seats coming the way of the Congress or the BJP in the last elections proved far off the mark. In UP, for instance, the BJP just melted away. Its performance in Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi did not come even within sniffing distance of their earlier performance. It has been an extremely unedifying decline for the BJP and its much-vaunted leadership of LK Advani, who has been found inadequate in comparison to that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and even Sonia Gandhi.
RSS, as old timers would testify, is good in infiltrating secular organisations. Despite the fact that they have a problem with the Congress's secular politics, they source their support from the same upper-caste base. For them, the degree of separation with the grand old party is so minimal that their immersion or assimilation comes very easy. Congress as an omnibus party had given comfort and space to different ideologies during the freedom struggle. Many of its members had worn the badge of Hindu Mahasabha and prospered. Some of those who inspired the Hindutva brigade were Congress leaders like Sardar Patel.
Just before the assembly elections in Maharashtra, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat had given the freedom to its supporters to vote for any party. There was no insistence from him that they should back the BJP. Message was clear that the RSS did not want to limit itself to the BJP and was ready to look at different political formations to back its agenda for creating a Hindu rashtra. If its favoured writers and columnists seem to change their political loyalties then it is not without reason.
So, BJP may be withering away but the RSS and its different avatars have managed to shift the locus of Indian politics in a manner that no political party can ignore the fact that Hindu interest needs to be safeguarded. Less Muslims are given tickets to contest elections. Only 10 Muslims won in the recent Maharashtra elections.
The Congress and secular forces should be mindful of these individuals, who cloak their insidious agenda in a manner that looks as if they are promoting the national interest. But actually, it is divisive, brahminical and status-quoist.