The election and the verdict – II
by B R Haran on 20 May 2009 3 Comments

Compromise for power
The 2004 defeat did not seem to have created any impact in the party’s attitude and style of functioning. The taste of power seemed to have diluted the ideological approach leading to compromising with allies in the name of coalition ethics. The decimation of the party in Orissa is clear proof of total compromise. Despite being in power as a partner for eleven years, the party could not make a dent in either the assembly or parliament.

The same may result in Bihar also tomorrow, when Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav backstab like Navin Patnaik. In spite of the harassment and disrespect inflicted by Jayalalithaa and Mayawati, it was pathetic to see the party waiting at their doorsteps to strike an alliance. There is nothing wrong in being an alliance partner and sharing power, for a party can achieve certain things by using that power.

But at the same time, the party should also focus on developing itself and gaining grounds in that state, as compromising beyond a certain limit inhibits its own growth, as happened in Orissa. The party captured power in 1998. After 10 years, though it gained new states like Karnataka and Chhattisgarh, it lost big states like UP and Rajasthan. It could not grow in Maharashtra and Haryana, and was decimated in Orissa. 

The campaign and limitations

The 2009 campaign was not planned properly. While a fantastic manifesto was prepared, it was not taken to the masses properly. No attempt was made to create one’s own media houses, despite experiencing media’s hostility for more than a decade. The available one or two newspapers/magazines were neither utilized nor motivated.

Hostile media wreaked havoc with BJP’s fortunes by repeatedly projecting the Jaitley-Rajnath tiff, Varun’s ‘hate’ speech, Modi’s Budhiya-Gudiya remarks and Advani’s takes on Manmohan, side-by-side with Priyanka’s ‘Gita’ advice to Varun and her ‘polite’ answer to Modi, Manmohan’s ‘aggressive’ posture against Advani and Rahul’s questions to Advani. It projected BJP as a party of hate speech and empty rhetoric, and showed Congress as an ‘achiever’. BJP was showcased as a party of old men, and the ‘youth’ of Congress hyped by repeatedly showing Rahul and Priyanka. Some party spokespersons on TV were unimpressive and found wanting during the so-called debates.  

Factional feuds and internal bickering

The party high command has not felt the necessity of solving the factional feuds in many state units, a matter of grave concern. The lack of unity was visible in both the party and the entire Sangh Parivar. The RSS, VHP and BJP seemed to be looking in different directions, and there were frequent media reports of strife among leaders. The RSS, despite being the parent organization, allowed the BJP too much freedom, and when VHP had problems with BJP, it failed to resolve the problems. Thus, the Hindu majority was confused whether RSS would support the BJP; most RSS/VHP office-bearers were not seen in the campaigns.   

No contact with Hindu religious organisations

The BJP seemed to have no contact with religious leaders and the party candidates did not bother to approach them for blessing and support. Barring a few Swamijis and Gurus, many did not instruct their disciples and devotees to vote for BJP. Though Hindu religious heads prefer to remain away from politics, it was the responsibility of party leaders to be in regular touch with religious heads and thus indirectly show the devotees where their own affiliation lay. Religious leaders also need to be apprised of dangers facing the nation so that they can mobilize their followers; this seems to have happened only in Karnataka, thanks to Chief Minister Yeddiyurappa and his team. 

Importance of unity

As Temples are controlled by the government, unlike Churches and Mosques, it is imperative for the BJP to be in regular touch with religious organizations, and thus, their congregations. Christians and Muslims use their worship places for taking political decisions, but Hindus are denied this privilege. 

In Christian-dominated Kanyakumari, DMK, DMDK, CPIM and the less-known BSP fielded Christian candidates; as Christian leaders felt that division of their votes could result in a BJP victory, they instructed their followers in almost all Churches, irrespective of denominations, to vote in favour of DMK’s Helen Davidson. She was elected. If this is the case in a communally sensitive place like Kanyakumari, which has witnessed communal riots for years, one can imagine the scenario in other places! 

Contacts with caste-outfits needed

Caste outfits are the road to unity. BJP leaders should keep caste leaders in good humour and work with them for Hindu unity. This is the lesson of Rajasthan, where BJP lost both Gujjar and Meena votes which it had in 2003 elections!

The RSS needs to play a vital role in this regard. In ‘Kongu Nadu’ comprising Coimbatore, Thiruppur, Pollachi, Erode and Salem areas of Tamil Nadu, the ‘Gavundar’ community is in a majority. Its party, “Kongu Nadu Munnetra Peravai,” even met BJP leader Advani in Delhi. But somehow a deal didn’t materialize, probably due to ineptness of the state unit, and a major chunk of crucial votes was lost. The ‘Kongu’ party candidates got more than a lakh votes in each of constituency contested.

The ‘Gavundars’, like ‘Thevars’ and ‘Nadars’, are basically Hindu-minded people with nationalistic aspirations. Earlier, the Nadars were with Congress and Thevars with AIADMK, the Gavundars supported both Congress and AIADMK. Now, while Thevars still prefer AIADMK, the Hindu Nadars drifted to BJP and the Gavundars for the first time decided to get out of both Congress and AIADMK. But BJP failed to take them into its fold, despite having had two MPs from this area during the NDA period.

In another peculiar case, the Tamil Nadu Brahmin Association (TAMBRAS) instructed its members to vote in favour of different candidates in different constituencies, instead of supporting BJP throughout the state. This happened despite a Brahmin being state unit head! 

Youth power – need of the hour

BJP has a better team of second rung leaders as compared to Congress - Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley, Arun Shourie, Sushma Swaraj, Rajiv Prathap Rudy, Ravi Shankar Prasad, are impressive, but have all crossed the age of 50. There seems to be a vacuum in the age group of 30 to 45. There may be a lot of bright individuals in ABVP and BJP Youth wing and it is the responsibility of seniors to give them exposure and motivate them.

Actually the party should have planned the future in 1998 itself when it first captured power. It is high time septuagenarians and octogenarians hand over the mantle to second rung leaders, not only in BJP but also in RSS and VHP. 

RSS on its part must extend its IT Shakas to many cities and VHP must groom selected students from its schools. The ABVP seems to be gaining ground slowly in Kerala against DYFI and SFI, and the same should happen in other southern states like AP and Tamil Nadu. The absence of ABVP was felt in Chennai when the Christian Vice Chancellor of Anna University invited evangelist Paul Dinakaran for a Prayer meeting inside the university premises in the name of Christmas celebration. When dumb-heads of Congress can attract considerable youth by stupid smiles and photo-ops, why not BJP?     


The various Hindu denominations headed by respective Gurus and Swamijis and followed by devotees, different caste organizations, all of whom believe in the basic ethos of Sanatana Dharma, must unite through dialogue and mutual understanding, to create awareness among the Hindu community of the common interests served by fruitful usage of the sacred ‘Hindu Vote’ in making “Hindu Rashtra” a reality.


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