'Modi is the subedar who doesn't care about BJP, Sangh or any other structure.'
Akash Bisht Delhi
Grassroots activist and intellectual, and original offbeat saffron thinker, KN Govindacharya was once considered as the chief ideologue of the BJP and Sangh Parivar. He was the genius behind several successful campaigns, including the phenomenon of social engineering. He was a crucial mind behind swadeshi and Hindutva revival as a backroom strategist, including Advani's rath yatra and Ramjanmabhoomi campaign. He was forced to leave the Sangh, after he fell out with their power-driven policies, and was sidelined, especially when he called Vajpayee a mukhota (mask). In a rare interview, he speaks to Hardnews on why Advani is refusing to quit, why the BJP should be disbanded, and how the Sangh has lost its way.
What is your reading of the BJP in the current political scenario?
There is confusion in the party because they don't know which way to go. There is a tug of war inside. Look at the Jammu issue, it was decided just like that. It was the youth wing which decided it. Later, others tried to cash in on it and the situation became so bad that while Arun Jaitley was crying, Rajnath Singh sat on fast. So it is quite clear that there is no one who is ready to pay heed to anyone, not even the chief ministers in BJP-ruled states. In these states, the party bosses interfere so much that cadres are alleging that they are carrying their burden and nothing else. There is a communication gap between the aspirations of the cadre and the party leadership. Nobody knows what is to be done and by whom. See the recent faux pas by Advani, it demoralised the cadres. And then the RSS leadership gave the statement that extremist elements won't be tolerated. This was an admission of sorts. These issues are now confronting the organisation like what has been published in Organiser (RSS mouthpiece) that whatever Advani has said on the task force report on black money is correct. The task force report has been condoned by the Organiser while it has been repudiated by other people. So there is no single cohesive political framework in which the BJP is working and this is demoralising the cadre.
What is the situation in UP?
In UP, the cadre wants the return of Uma Bharti whereas the state leadership is vehemently against her return. Rajnath Singh is playing his own game promoting Kalraj Mishra when he knows that nothing substantial is going to happen. This is a ploy to finish off Mishra's political career.
What about policy decisions?
As far as policy making is concerned, Nitin Gadkari has passed on the baton to Arun Jaitley. Jaitley has repeatedly said that black money is a non-issue and he has directed party spokespersons not to speak on the issue. On the issue of Walmart and black money, the party has already passed a resolution that they are against it. There are many references to Walmart and spokespersons have been asked not to speak about it. These instances prove that different lobbies are working within the party against the party policies and there is a struggle for power. There is a lot of confusion, a lot of cross-connections. It is a free-for-all sort of a situation. This is my observation.
How is the current relationship between BJP and RSS?
BJP and RSS have no consensus. And the relationship between the RSS and BJP is not the same as it used to be. On one hand, they are being criticised for getting Gadkari, while on the other, they feel helpless. In Madhya Pradesh, RSS is running the government. But if you see other states, say Gujarat, Narendra Modi is the subedar who doesn't care about BJP, Sangh or any other structure. He gives no importance to RSS or BJP. In the remaining states where there is a BJP government, the cadres feel that their government is even more corrupt than the Congress's. So they never come out in the open.
How do you analyse Advani as a political person?
I believe age has caught up with him. Otherwise, why would he have an adamant attitude towards Jinnah? Still, he is defending himself on the Jinnah issue on his blog, which is totally irrelevant. He wrote a similar thing on JPC. JPC wasn't a well-thought-out plan. Sushma Swaraj wasn't allowed to speak, so she got stuck on JPC. No one showed any interest in resolving the JPC and PAC conflict. Advani is sulking because he believes that no one is consulting him. He didn't even consult anyone on the Sonia apology letter issue, not even people in the task force. All these traits were not part of Advani's behaviour earlier, and this has happened in the last five years.
Then why doesn't he retire?
He feels that if he retires it will be free-for-all and everything will come out in the open. That is the reason why his confidantes say he should not retire till the time the party's constitutional conflict gets resolved. This, they feel, is convenient for all. He has become like that old man who is respected by all but no one listens to. He has become like an old man in any household. Even the RSS has become so helpless that it can neither own BJP nor disown it. They are not able to figure out what is to be done and which way to go.
As for Advani, what kind of changes do you see?
After he lost the mandate in 2004 and again in 2009, Advani had no clue on whom to share his grief with. In 2004, at least he could share it with Atal Behari Vajpayee, or at one time he used to share views with Babu Rao Devender and later with Sheshadri. The problem is that he never deemed himself worthy of sharing views with either (RSS leaders) KS Sudarshan or Suresh Soni. In the absence of a sounding board, a person gets stretched and tends to listen to different people. For instance, on S Gurumurthy's advice, he raised the issue of black money and attacked Sonia Gandhi. This is a proof of how low on confidence Advani is.
What according to you should he do?
(Laughs) After BJP lost the election in 2004, I called up Advani sometime in April 2005 and told him that he should retire and save his face. I told them to hand over the party to the upcoming young leaders, or he should just disband the party. Just like Atalji showed the courage and disbanded Jan Sangh in 1977. So I told them that it's been 25 years since Vajpayee took that decision, now the best way to celebrate the silver jubilee would be to take retirement or disband the BJP. There is lot of disenchantment in the party. Ideologically, the shape of the spectrum has widened by 180 degrees in the party and this is not tenable. The trust between the cadre and the leadership is over. That's why it's better that the party be disbanded or handed over to the Sangh, letting them do whatever they want to do with it. If you have such emotions attached, then hand it over to the Sangh and wash your hands off. This is the only way they can save their face and this is what I told him. I knew that none of this would happen. I had told him all this four days before BJP's foundation day and also mentioned that this is the best opportunity to do this. Show some courage. And now, looking back at it, I feel my suggestion was right. He deserves more respect than what he is getting today because his contribution to the party is immense.
Does he still have aspirations of becoming PM?
No, I don't believe so. In 2009, when others couldn't solve their issues with each other, he was used as a lid or a paperweight to let issues simmer out. The treatment meted out to him is unfair.
Do you believe that RSS doesn't need BJP?
No, RSS doesn't need BJP. RSS should confine itself to the behavioural aspect of character-building and emotional nationalism. This in itself is a tough task and they can be satisfied with that role. It was the very reason for its formation... I believe there is a huge gap in the balance between BJP and Sangh.
You have said that there is hardly any difference between BJP and Congress.
Yes, look from both sides. You can actually see from two or three angles when it comes to policies. Both are pro-rich, pro-market forces and pro-corporate. The only difference is that BJP asserts they are doing it better than others. If you are talking about the power structure, the equation is more or less the same. Even on corruption there is not much of a difference.
Was Advani correct on Jinnah?
No, he was not right. He was on a wrong footing. As for Jinnah, he was neither communal nor secular. He was an agnostic, an atheist. To call an atheist a secular person is wrong. What was on Advani's mind when he was speaking to Geo TV is something nobody knows. Nobody can defend it or have a different perception about it. Advaniji in that interview said, "I admire Jinnah greatly and he single-handedly created Pakistan." He says these two consecutive sentences together. Why would any normal person not join these two consecutive sentences? Why wouldn't he look at it in cause-effect relation? You cannot expect a finer distinction from a layman. When you are a top politician, with great communication skills, these kinds of mistakes are not expected. Why would anyone excuse him? No Indian will admire Jinnah for the creation of Pakistan.
What happens to BJP now?
The party would turn into an electoral machine vying for power in states and the Centre. Slowly, it will have a reduced clout. There isn't much raison d'etre for the party to exist. If this is what we want, then a real Congress is better than a forged carbon copy of Congress. In India, the pro-Bharat, pro-poor space is vacant. With BJP occupying the post of the opposition party and legitimising anarchic forces, the voice for the upliftment of the poor gets minimised within the democratic process.
Everywhere this issue is raised, that you were also (in power) for six years, so why didn't you do it? If you talk about 2G then people would ask what did you do in those six years, what did you do about black money, J&K, Ram Janmabhoomi, rising prices. These six years in power is turning out to be an albatross around the neck for the ideological movement. That is why, before 2004 elections I said that for an ideological movement, these banners and these faces would not work.
Does RSS want Advani to be there?
I don't know. I can only infer that the RSS is in a dilemma. It is in a state of confusion and indecisiveness. I believe that coordination and the ability to balance things is the forte of the RSS. One has to be strong according to the times. The last five years have seen no display of guts and courage.
The grapevine has it that the government is on shaky ground and BJP is sensing blood. The BJP is hoping for any such miracle, that power would swing from Congress and fall in their lap. It might not happen and will depend on the kind of political turmoil that follows. In UP and Bihar, the BJP isn't a force to reckon with. In Bihar they managed to win riding on the anti-Lalu wave. In the remaining states also, they don't have a mass base. They will face rigorous tests in Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam that are due for assembly elections this year. They should concentrate on UP and then on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. As I have witnessed, the BJP, instead of being a party of workers with a mission, has become a party of candidates for power. In such a situation their clout has reduced even in BJP-ruled states. And what happens in such a scenario is that the ideological cadres don't get a kick.