You too, Lotus!

The uncivil war raging within the BJP Parivar has ramifications much beyond that party’s confines. In a perverse way, BJP’s much touted ‘cultural nationalism’ gells perfectly with Bharath’s culture of internecine feuds at the expense of nationalism, a curse that had helped many a foreigner from Alexander to Allauddin Khilji to Aurangazeb to the Anglos to Antonio, to divide, rule, loot and scoot. But the genetic kink apart, BJP’s suicide pact sounds the death knell for many vital ingredients of the polity and society as well.

The BJP’s betrayal of its core constituency stands out. The party’s meteoric rise since the late eighties is not because the voters were taken in by the charisma of Vajpayee, Advani etc. Yes, V’payee may have brought in the allies with his ‘mask’ of moderation, but the voters came in for what the BJP stood for. While anti-Congressism played its part, it was more a factor in the states where the Grand Old Party lost out to regional players such as Telugu Desam, Naveen, Mulayam or Lalu. At the national level, the BJP’s vote bank was a positive one, in favour of its politics and policies. While issues like Abrogation of Article 370, Uniform Civil Code, pseudo-secularism etc found resonance with a rising middle class, the Ram temple movement became symbolic of a lost national/cultural pride that begged to be resurrected. I for one do not believe that the BJP leaders were the harbingers of this wave: that would be overestimating their worth. If anything, they only rode the crest of what was essentially a groundswell with roots deep into history and wounds aggravated by a self-defeating secular milieu.

In hindsight, it appears that the BJP leadership, while not being the karta or genesis of the Hindutva cause, has however turned out to be a nemesis. While the cadre and voters remained firm in the crust, the leaders were more bothered about skimming the cream of power on the surface. And once it was near and after it was in hand, the promises that propelled them up were pushed to that notorious ‘backburner’ and incinerated. At 180 MPs in 1998, the party should have looked at the long haul, waited and tried to expand its base. But instead of chasing people, it chased allies, because principles had silently given way to personal ambition: Vajpayee had waited long and must become PM! And then it was Advani. Their coronations at the capital were deemed of paramount importance to the party, no matter if Rama remained exiled from Ayodhya! And, we are not talking of the scores of lesser mortals of the BJP stalking the North, South and sundry other blocks of the capital, oblivious to how and why they were there in the first place. Needless to say, there is no point in blaming the allies: they were only travelling footboard on Rama’s rath and promptly alighted it to board whatever bandwagon that would take them to Destination Delhi. But what earthy reason can the BJP have to align with a party like DMK that is the anti-thesis of all that the BJP stands for? Clearly, power politics of the BJP had consumed its core principles, rendering it a redundant rump of rootless leaders.

But all that is past and within the parivar. And if the cause is really vibrant and valid, it would certainly find its own avenues for articulation and advancement, BJP or no BJP. But for the present, the party’s implosion is sure to send shrapnel across the democratic spectrum. Forget Hindutva, the BJP symbolised some, er, secular standards too. Barring the Left, it is the only party with more than a semblance of inner-party democracy and collective leadership. It was a perfect democratic foil against the dynastic Congress and offered an alternative also to those who had gone tired of listening to endless bedtime tales on DD or AIR of the great Nehru bloodline, as if it owned the nation and represented its heritage. Ironically, the BJP might have now ended up perpetuating it.

And by quibbling, quarrelling and queering the political pitch, the BJP leadership experiment seems to have established for eternity that ‘nationalist intellectuals’ can never agree on anything nor can they work together for a cause, and that dynasties, howsoever, nasty, are the best political (& business) model for a successful party! Also that principles are subservient to personalities and howsoever exalted the ideology, it needs a face and often the face alone will do! Sure, the BJP had its highs. It broke Cong hegemony and ran for the first time a non-Cong government for a full term. It ensured robust if not equitable economic growth. And it converted the uni-polar, dynastic centric polity into a multi-polar one with the national debate too shifting to issues of identity and growth rather than the fates of a chosen few. But by following on Cong’s footsteps and now falling flat, it has more or less wiped out all those democratic gains. Indeed, the nation seems condemned to families, mafias and family mafias!

The utter disarray in the key opposition party has grave consequences for the people. The BJP may represent just one fifth of the electorate but it still owes a duty to the entire nation to be a responsible opposition. Ironically, even PM MSingh and former PM Deve Gowda have expressed distress at the weakening of the BJP. While it is fine for the BJP leaders to dismiss these as a wolf’s tears at the lamb’s plight, they cannot ignore the four fingers pointing inwards. The ugliness of the BJP’s squabbles is all set to be displayed in Parliament when sensitive issues like Kandahar, a matter of shame, and Pokhran, a matter of pride, are likely to figure. Thanks to the sordid mud-slinging over them, Parliament is likely to witness a strange reversal in proceedings with the opposition party on the back foot, defending itself from its own backfiring guns! And issues that really matter to the people like drought, price rise, recession and terrorism are likely to be orphaned, with the ruling regime going scot free without a blot on its conscience!

Well, Brutus’ famous, fatal stab punctured Caesar’s chest. BJP’s stabbing spree has split the the nation wide open.

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Jawahar T R