BJP: Himalayan Shame
by Sandhya Jain on 22 Jun 2009 9 Comments

Not unexpectedly, the BJP national executive turned out to be much ado about nothing. The embattled president Rajnath Singh alone took responsibility for the electoral defeat; the master strategist Arun Jaitley enjoyed the European summer; and the sulking wannabe PM clung gracelessly, but tenaciously, to power.

The rot in the BJP is not new; it has been piling up for decades under the tyranny of the General whose leadership is now unpalatable to his own lieutenants. The analogy that comes to mind is that of the Augean stables, where shit had piled up so high that no mortal could clean it, and no less than the semi-divine Hercules was needed to perform the task. He did this by engineering a riverine flood through the stables; flushing the dross away and purifying that putrid biosphere. A feat of similar magnitude is now required for the BJP.

Lobh, moha, ahankaar

Recalling L K Advani’s swiftly withdrawn offer to quit and not take up the post of Leader of the Opposition, one is reminded of another story from Indian folklore:

A renowned spiritual teacher felt his end approaching. He called his disciples and told them that because of previous karmas, he would be reborn as a piglet to a sow living in the ashram precincts. He asked his favourite disciple to immediately kill him so that he was released from the bondage of that lowly existence, and could proceed on a more exalted karmic journey. The disciple promised.

When the litter was born, the disciple felt that he could not murder an absolute newborn. So he waited a while and on the eighth day, finally picked up a sharp knife and told the ashram inmates that he would now release their guru. But when he approached the sty, a familiar voice said: no, don’t kill me. I like it now!

That, I think, sums up the story of the RSS requesting Advani not to press his resignation – the cardinal vices of greed, delusion and pride (lobh, moha, ahankaar) that Hindus are exhorted to overcome, have him in deep thrall. He cannot now be persuaded to leave; and until he does, BJP is destined to roll in the mud of the pigsty. 

Advani and Jaitley: incredible duo

By all accounts, despite a stormy national executive meeting (20-21 June 2009), dissidence was crushed and the escapist (bhagora) Arun Jaitley allowed to get away without explaining either his performance or his conduct.

We are told the party will go back to the masses, but for what? Advani having been resoundingly rejected by the people, and there being no immediate election on the horizon (unlike in 2004, there is no Raj Jyotishi to predict a mid-term poll), what is he going to the masses for - the BJP succession battle?

Few can forget how Jaitley stymied the BJP campaign by throwing tantrums to humiliate Rajnath Singh, not attending certain meetings, whimsically attending others with his face turned away, and casting aspersions on old party hands who were also key fund-raisers. Can such a man be trusted to lead the party in any capacity, that too, at such a critical time in its history?

How can Jaitley, who used the media to project himself as master strategian throughout the electoral process, pouring water over the contributions of all other stalwarts and workers alike, and elevating only a flunkey market surveyer as equal, dare refuse to give an account of his performance. A man who cannot face his own party colleagues, a man who puts a holiday in Europe above the party, cannot be permitted to lord it over his colleagues in Parliament or anywhere else. It is astonishing that he thinks he deserves anything – other than the boot, that is.

Soft Hindutva – what’s that?

After the eminently forgettable Gandhian Socialism, we now have another gem from the BJP – this time it is called Soft Hindutva.

I now feel BJP did not ditch Sri Rama. It was Sri Rama who realised that not Lotuses but Blooming Idiots were blossoming on the BJP pond, and ran for His life!     

BJP leaders know nothing, learn nothing. In our part of the country there is a saying that if you don’t have your own brains (apne ghar ki akal), borrow somebody else’s; sadly, BJP lacks even this modesty.

There is no such thing as Hard Hindutva or Soft Hindutva; there is only Hindutva.

Hindutva is ‘Hindu tattva,’ the essence of Hindu-ness. In other words, it is simply Being Hindu. This means that like the sanatana dharma, being perennial, eternally contemporary, eternally relevant to the epoch in which one lives. There is no need for a pandit to lead one to an esoteric verse in the Vedas, no need for an interpretation; there is only understanding the needs of the Hindu community in any given era or situation, and ensuring that the polity delivers on it.

Hindutva, in short, means Hinduizing the polity to ensure that the government of the day does not do anything to hurt the legitimate needs or sensibilities of the Hindu community. It is not framed in ‘anti’ terms – that is the privilege of Pakistan and other monotheistic states – because the Vedic worldview seeks the well-being of all creation, human, non-human, and even inanimate.

Hindu dharma is innately affirmative and not exclusivist. Hence Hindus are unable to sustain hostility towards other communities after the immediate provocation for a flare-up is over (a point forcefully noted by my late father Girilal Jain), and that is why the phrase ‘Justice for all, appeasement of none’ found profound resonance in the Hindu heart. 

‘Vasudev kutumbukum’ (the world is the family of Vasudev) is not confined to the human species, and only callow minds permit the diminution of this great ideal to a single specie. This facilitates missionaries when they appropriate Hindu symbols, rituals and concepts, and try to overwhelm the dharma by giving their own meanings to Hindu terms and traditions.

Kanchi Perivaar

By a lucky coincidence, contemporary Hindutva was summed up perfectly by the Kanchi Sankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati during his discussions with Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran, president of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and others, in Mumbai on 12 June 2009. Since BJP obviously paid no attention to this meeting, it would be in order to sum up Perivaar’s views
[See full text at]

- Most countries like USA, UK, Japan, the Gulf nations, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc., affirm their determination to protect and defend their culture and the religion from which their cultures derive.

- In India alone we pass resolutions which officially and legally promote an irreligious and unspiritual creed called secularism. Secularism is an administrative quality; it cannot be the soul of this nation. The soul of this nation is religious and spiritual. Our government must recognize this truth and affirm commitment to protect the soul of India.

- Hindu dharma is by nature diverse; all different panthas and sampradayas co-exist on this bhumi without seeking to destroy the others. Hindu dharma has nurtured and supported all faiths and religions because that is the way of dharma.

- Religions which have entered this bhumi from other lands must respect this vital characteristic of Hindu dharma and not subvert or disturb the sense of nationhood of this country.

- Hindu dharma and the Hindu people welcome Christians, Muslims, Parsis and Jews to make this land their home. We expect these religions not to destroy our faith, our religion, and wound our religious sensibilities.

- We encourage all religions to live with mutual respect and harmony in a shared sense of nationalism which should bind us all as one nation. Nationalism should come first.

- In 1999, Pope John Paul II said the mission of the Vatican was to plant the Cross in Asia in the third millennium to facilitate the Christianizing of the world, which alone would cause the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

- Exactly one month ago, on 12 May 2009, Pope Benedict XVI went to Jerusalem for a dialogue with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel where he agreed that the Catholic Church would cease all missionary and conversion activities among the Jews. The Church must give a similar commitment to the Hindus.

- The Church must reassure Hindus that it will not conduct itself in a manner that wounds Hindu sensibilities.

- The Buddhist Mahasangha and Joint Committee of Buddhist Organizations have urged the Sri Lankan government to pass a national anti-conversion law. A similar measure is endorsed for India.

- The US Commission on International Religious Freedom is an intrusive mechanism of a foreign government to interfere in the internal affairs of India. It must not be permitted to enter India on this intrusive mission [permission denied six days later, though government spokespersons denied this had anything to do with Sankaracharya’s statement!].

- Large sums of money come into the country for Churches and Christian groups’ charity work, and must be used only for social causes like health, education and not for religious conversion.

It is inconceivable that such Hindutva would not find resonance with the people. The truth is that the BJP leadership is now so alienated from the masses, so aloof from the legitimate concerns of Hindus, that neither the word ‘Hindu’ nor ‘Hindutva’ figured in its election campaign.

Kandhamal and the abandoned tribals

This alienation came tellingly to the fore when all prominent BJP leaders pointedly skipped the troubled Kandhamal district – where Swami Laxmanananda and four other sannyasis were brutally gunned down on 23 August 2008, and the tribal community was in deep anguish – in the elections. This was despite the fact that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had ditched the party on the eve of polls and Assembly elections were being held simultaneously.

The Orissa election was not just about settling scores with Patnaik; it was about addressing tribal angst. That is why Kandhamal should have been the centrepoint of the BJP campaign, because tribals are the most endangered section of society and need special protection of their identity and culture.

A common cultural substratum unites all native-born beliefs and practices; hence tribals (Adivasi, Vanvasi) are an intrinsic part of Hindu dharma. However, because of certain lacuna at the time of drafting the constitution, they were denied adequate legal protection of their tribal status.

This has made Adivasis the target of conversion and violence. The current spiral of violence began with the shooting of Tripura’s Shanti Kali ji Maharaj in August 2000; the shooting of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati followed on 23 August 2008; and Swami Ramcharan Das was hacked to death at Puri on 3 June 2009.

BJP should have demanded – and should even now demand – a complete ban on proselytisation in tribal areas. It should also demand plugging the legal lacuna which allows tribals converts to corner reservation benefits.

Caste is Hindu

So alienated has BJP become from Hindu society that it no longer appreciates the unchanging importance of caste. From its primordial beginnings, Hindu society has organised itself on the basis of caste, and caste has served as an agency of integration of diverse groups throughout the land. So significant is caste that Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav sacrified other party colleagues to maintain his relationship with the Lodh leader Kalyan Singh (once BJP’s chief minister of Uttar Pradesh).

Today, both Christian and Muslim leaders are seeking to appropriate caste and secure reservation benefits for so-called dalit Christians and dalit Muslims. Since Hindus alone are defined by jati and gotra, and caste is explicitly forbidden in the religious theology of both Islam and Christianity, BJP should demand a national debate and legislation to define Hindus as those who have jati and gotra, and minorities as those who do not have caste and are not entitled to reservations on the basis of caste.

Interim solution

In my view BJP cannot begin to sort itself out unless Advani is removed from the headship of the organisation. He should be asked to quit his Lok Sabha seat (and take protégé Varun Gandhi with him into the sunset), and the party should ask Narendra Modi to contest Gandhinagar and take over as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

This will have the immediate benefit of transition to a younger leadership, with a leader known to the people. The BJP can then thrash out the causes of electoral failure and work out remedies.

Within Gujarat, the immediate benefit would be that alienated leaders (Keshubhai Patel, Suresh Mehta, Rajendrasinh Rana, Gordhan Zadaphia, Sankarsinh Vaghela) and communities (Kshatriyas, Patels) can close ranks and give the BJP a fighting chance in the next Assembly elections – else, Gujarat may well be lost, if the Lok Sabha results are any indication.

More importantly, shifting Narendra Modi could mitigate the hostility with which the Gujarat riot cases are currently being pursued, and give a fair chance to VHP cadres rotting in jail. The alienation of then home minister Gordhan Zapadia is a major blow to the party, which can be overcome if Modi is removed from the scene.

His national ambitions are in any case well known. By reviving the party from the current doldrums, he could earn his right to nurture them.

The author is Editor,

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