Jinnah and Jaswant, the BJP’s double-edged sword
by Radha Rajan on 20 Aug 2009 6 Comments

Whoever plotted to derail the BJP’s chintan baithak was an expert on human psychology, had an unerring aim and loads of experience in destabilizing a given situation. In a flawlessly crafted plot, what should actually have been the denouement of the prolonged intra-party homicidal infighting within the BJP, turned, as if with a conjurer’s sleight of hand, into a face-off between the BJP and the RSS. Not a small trick this.

Between 1997 and 2004 when the BJP was in power in Delhi, power brokers controlling the minds of guileless leaders in the RSS (guilelessness is not a virtue in any leadership), and who enjoyed free and unchecked access to the homes and offices of the BJP leadership, persuaded the RSS to accept serious deficiencies and erosions in character within the BJP with equanimity; the logic being - power corrupts, but this must be seen as occupational hazard, and after all, the BJP is giving the RSS a soft-landing in Indian polity. No one in the RSS stopped this gentleman in his tracks then, to ask why the RSS needed a soft landing.

It is not within the purview of this column to go into details about the consequences of the RSS lowering the bar for the BJP, but the end result was that the RSS leadership during that period did little to stop the rapid descent of the BJP from the superior heights of party-with-a-difference to Congress clone. Ideological relativism was condoned as inevitable trade-off for this political soft-landing. 

In what proved to be an intellectually and practically counter-productive exercise, the RSS did not correct and even encouraged the ordinary swayamsevaks and seasoned pracharaks, the notion that power corrupts; and because this is being proved by the BJP, let us stick to man-making activities in the social, educational, medical and economic sectors. Let us abjure politics, bury our heads in the sand, hope the BJP will go away. The results of one decade of RSS short-sightedness is there for all to see.

Hindu tradition has proved that the Viswamitra attitude that power corrupts, money corrupts and women corrupt is not the way to Brahmagyaana; and closing our eyes, ears, minds and mouth is not the sadhana towards becoming a Brahmarishi. The human mind, by its very nature is susceptible to influences; RSS man-making then must actually be mind-making of those who enter the challenging arena of politics. If Krishna is mistakenly referred to as a bhogi, then Janaka was a yogi; both lived in the thick of politics, both accepted the trappings of power with equanimity, and both lived their lives doing only politics. The bhogi was only the veneer; the mind was yogic. This has been amply proved in our ithihasas by king after king after king. RSS mind-making of man must lead Viswamitra towards becoming a Janaka or a Srikrishna. 

The new Sarsanghachalak, both in his public address in Chennai on 16 August and in his interview to an English news channel on 18 August, when he declared that the RSS intended to influence national affairs and also asked for the immediate end to infighting and instability within the BJP, signalled the reversal of the decades-long RSS policy of playing ostrich. The Sarsanghachalak’s perfectly timed public address in Chennai and the interview to the news channel was intended to set the agenda for the BJP’s chintan baithak in Shimla – to put an end to the fratricidal war inside the party which led the BJP to its second electoral debacle and its complete rout.

Ending the self-destructive infighting was the first measure which alone would have made all other corrective measures possible. The fratricidal war had to end if the BJP had to sit down to analyzing why it lost the elections. An honest post-mortem, as things stand, is not possible given the fact that every leader has his daggers out to stick it into his own bete noire in the guise of apportioning blame. The BJP no longer has the comfort of a supine RSS leadership politely looking the other way, enthralled with the notion of soft-landing; it was confronting a man who meant business. Shri Mohan Bhagwat declared in the interview that he expected the BJP leadership to put an end to the infighting and the instability “immediately. It has to stop”.

The Sarsanghachalak also indicated that he expected the chintan baithak to enable the BJP to take stock of its failures and make amends, to restore its value system which made it a party with a difference. Implied in this veiled directive was that if heads had to roll, then heads will have to roll.

Contrary to motivated and planted stories in news channels that Jaswant Singh was removed under RSS orders, it was to subvert the agenda that the RSS Sarsanghachalak had set for the BJP’s chintan baithak that Jaswant Singh was removed in the completely graceless and needlessly dramatic manner. Someone in the BJP did not want a determined RSS altering the status quo; did not want any change in the power hierarchy, did not want introspection, did not want the causes for electoral defeat to be nailed and for blame to be laid at deserving doors. Some one wanted the RSS to be discouraged from having a say in the politics of the nation; someone wanted the RSS to stick to man-making in the social sector.

Jaswant Singh’s head rolled for all the wrong reasons. For Shri Ravishankar Prasad, the spokesperson of the BJP to pass it off as punishment for violation of a sacred ideological principle is farcical and foolish beyond belief. Had that been the case, then Shri Advani’s head ought to have rolled earlier for the same offence; Ms. Sushma Swaraj’s head ought to have rolled for calling the Ramjanmabhumi issue an encashed cheque; and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for refusing to build the temple because “the BJP is not a construction company” should have been expelled just as promptly. Is not the Ramjanmabhumi an ideological issue too, and is not Advani as guilty of the same offence as Jaswant Singh?

Jaswant Singh was the bali ka bakra. His head had to roll, but his head ought to have rolled for different reasons, and along with seven other heads. For those targeting the RSS and determined to keep the RSS out of politics, sacrificing Jaswant Singh was like sacrificing a pawn to get at the Knight or the Bishop or even the Rook (these are called ‘pieces’ in the game of chess). The RSS and the decent elements in the BJP must understand that the brain which can sacrifice a pawn to get after a piece, will sacrifice the piece to get at the Queen. When the Queen falls, the fall of the King is only a matter of time.

The Sarsanghachalak must begin to understand the rudiments of playing chess.

The author is Editor, www.vigilonline.com

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