What’s wrong with the BJP?

Till the BJP disengages itself from the sinister shadows of fascist ideology and emerges as a modern Rightwing party, it will continue to stumble, stutter and fall 

Sanjay Kapoor Delhi 

The BJP’s strongman in Karnataka, BS Yeddyurappa, who incessantly hops from one temple to another, had to be prised out of power with great difficulty by the party leadership after his continuance became untenable subsequent to a court order on the issue of corruption. His case represents a difficult moral conundrum for the party’s uncertain leadership, even while the gods simply refused to help Yeddyurappa (or, the Reddy brothers’ mining mafia). 

Yeddyurappa left the job kicking and screaming and threatened the central BJP leadership that he would split the state unit unless he was ‘protected’. He gave the example of how the Congress looked after its own people and felt orphaned by the attitude of his party’s leadership, which just does not know how to handle him. 

Despite the allegations of corruption and land scams (among others, there are charges of accepting a bribe through a cheque from a mining company), he remains a force in Karnataka, especially among the powerful Lingayats. It was his strenuous efforts that brought the BJP to power in a southern state for the first time. 

Indeed, how to address the issue of moral transgression? For the BJP, this is the big question. The party’s ideological anchor, the RSS, which wants to establish a Hindu rashtra in India, does not provide answers to questions posed by the likes of Yeddyurappa. 

If the BJP leaders had not been shouting themselves hoarse against the corruption of the Congress regime, they would have had no moral compunctions in protecting him. At another level, the BJP (and RSS) celebrated the condemnable conduct of its chief minister in Gujarat, Narendra Modi, during and after the 2002 carnage, even when its hypocritical prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, chose to express the repulsion he felt. He had then demanded that Modi follow his “raj dharma” — advice that fell on arrogant and deaf ears. 

When Nitish Kumar raises the issue of a ‘secular’ NDA candidate for the post of PM, he is yet again giving voice to the troubling demand that Madhu Limaye raised in 1977 

Duplicity, duality, two-facedness comes easy for a Rightwing, xenophobic outfit like the BJP. Trained to mask their real agenda of establishing a ‘one nation-one culture’ Hindu majoritarian state or Akhand Bharat based on hate politics and communal polarisation, they have cleverly coalesced with other opportunistic parties like the ‘rump socialists’ to attain alleged ‘secular’ objectives — as, for instance, overthrowing a corrupt government. 

The journey from the Samyukta Vidhayak Dal days in 1967 to scattered Janata Party hiccups that have taken place at the Centre shows their guile in working with ideological adversaries. Clearly, they have benefitted from the political opportunism of those who refused to ask tough questions about their commitment to secularism as defined in India’s Constitution.
In 1977, post-Emergency, socialist thinker Madhu Limaye raised the issue of “dual membership” of those who merged the Jan Sangh (the BJP’s earlier avatar) into the Janata Party. Limaye was asking a relevant question: how can a member of the Janata Party also be a member of the RSS? LK Advani and Vajpayee tried resorting to their usual excuses of the RSS being a cultural organisation, but it did not wash. 

Since then, the Jan Sangh has emerged in different avatars. The BJP has been in power at the Centre too — a phase during which the RSS spread its influence in the bureaucracy, armed forces, media and judiciary. But it still fails to click with those who want the party to rid itself of its archaic links with manifestly fascist and communal intent.

They have benefitted from the political opportunism of those who refused to ask tough questions about their commitment to secularism 

BJP’s contempt for rule of law and actions that have an ethical impact was visible when its supporters brought down the Babri Masjid. 

Basically, old nightmares have come to haunt the BJP again. When Nitish Kumar raises the issue of a ‘secular’ NDA candidate for the post of PM if the alliance comes to power, he is yet again giving voice to the troubling demand that Limaye raised in 1977.

The genesis of the crisis within a faction-ridden BJP, in which their central leaders and state satraps are often at daggers drawn, is also linked with the party’s inability to reconcile their moral contradictions. 

Till the BJP sorts out these contradictions, disengages from the sinister, sectarian shadows of fascist ideology, and emerges as an authentic and modern Rightwing party, it will continue to stumble, stutter and fall as an alternative to a tired and discredited Congress.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JULY 2012

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