Did Advani approve of Sachar Committee?
by Sandhya Jain on 02 Jun 2009 17 Comments

Far from examining the causes of its second electoral debacle at the national level, the BJP seems determined to go the Congress way, further consolidating power in the hands of the one man who led it to ignominy and opprobrium. Little wonder that L.K. Advani advised the faithful not to ‘exaggerate’ the scale of the defeat (doubtless because 116 seats are miles ahead of the 2 seat wonder of 1984!).

And studiously refusing to turn the spotlight on the utter failure of his own leadership, the self-styled Iron Man called for scrutiny of below par performances in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In other words, the man who owes his Gandhinagar victory to the efforts of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is going to downsize the leader who, despite certain shortcomings, still stands tallest in the Hindu imagination.

Given the firmness with which acolyte Venkaiah Naidu rebuffed fixing responsibility for the rout to maintain the supremacy of ensconced non-entities, Mr. Advani will have to personally answer if he conveyed overt or covert approval of the Sachar Committee Report to Bihar ally, Janata Dal – United.

Specifically, Mr. Advani must explain why the BJP, at both national and state level, maintained studious silence when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar issued an election manifesto which specifically promised that:

1] Bihar will implement the Sachar Committee recommendations for Muslims and

2] Support reservations to Dalit Christians (when Christians don’t have caste at all).

In the last decade, the BJP has viciously attacked all believing Hindus who asked why it compromised on core Hindutva issues (rebuilding the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya; abrogating Article 370; and implementing a Uniform Civil Code – something now sought by Muslim intellectuals like M.J. Akbar, who have disguised it as a request for a Muslim Code Bill that could liberate the community from the shackles of obscurantist religious and secular leaders). BJP stoically refused to even utter the word ‘Hindu,’ shunned all Hindu concerns, and all persons who lacked the agility to ‘move on’ from Hindutva.

The excuse was – compulsions of coalition government. The reason was – desire for the loaves and fishes of office.

The explanation that must now be forthcoming is – was the compulsion only one-way? Did the allies not equally desire power and the trappings of office, and were they not required to pay any price for piggy-backing to office with a larger partner? And did the BJP central and state leadership not realize or care that the Janata Dal - United was quietly and shrewdly expanding its social base at the cost of the BJP?

Did Advani give Nitish OK on Sachar Committee?

How could the BJP – which protested against the divisive agenda of the Sonia Gandhi-led UPA, as exemplified by the setting up of the Sachar Committee and its recommendations – not condemn and distance itself from allies who adopted the Sachar Committee? Was making L.K. Advani prime minister the ONLY agenda of the party in 2009?

This writer has previously spoken about the need for the party to urgently replace the non-performing state unit chief, Sushil Modi, a second-generation migrant from Rajasthan with no local roots or sensitivities, who totally subordinated the party to the dominant power, first represented by Lalu Yadav, and currently Nitish Kumar. I am therefore not surprised to know that Sushil Modi went along with the chief minister, as he will do anything to maintain his personal comfort levels.

But given the seriousness of the issue, some questions cannot be avoided:

1] What were BJP leaders from the state like Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (both party spokespersons in New Delhi) doing when Nitish Kumar campaigned on this promise?

2] What were Bihar RSS and VHP leaders doing when the manifesto was released and local newspapers reported the promise to implement Sachar Committee?

3] Why was this news kept so secret that the rest of us are learning of it only now that Nitish Kumar is actually planning to go ahead and implement this promise?

4] Is it possible that not one Bihar BJP leader read the JD (U) manifesto when it was released?

The last question is not polemical at all. Years ago, this writer personally asked Advani why the BJP manifesto included a promise to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations when the party protested the sudden decision of Prime Minister V.P. Singh. His reply was as stunning as it was illuminating – he said no one had studied the Mandal Commission Report properly!

Yes. They stuck it into the manifesto because they thought it was a winning issue, unaware of its poisonous potential. This is the same mindset that made them adopt Varun Gandhi after the Chief Election Commissioner advised them to drop him for his abominable speech – they thought he was a ticket to ride.

So, after the 31 May 2009 JD (U) national executive meeting (a regional outfit with national pretensions!), general secretary Shivanand Tewari insolently announced that the Nitish Kumar regime would not be shackled by the BJP’s Hindutva agenda. To rub it in, he added that the JD (U) has zero-tolerance for communalism, will not break-up with BJP right now (read Congress cannot make up the numbers in Patna), but will keep the window for change open (read will dump BJP and go for early elections if it thinks it can swing it in the Naveen Patnaik manner).

Dump Nitish fast

There is only one way out of this extreme disrespect: 

1] BJP must immediately DUMP Nitish Kumar and bring down the Bihar government 

2] BJP must immediately dump Sushil Modi and appoint a native Bihari as state unit chief

3] BJP will aggressively raise the banner of revolt against the Sachar Committee and its poisonous impact on Hindu – Indian society

4] Bihar must be made the karmabhumi, the new Kurukshetra for raising and revalidating issues of concern to Hindu society. As the native place Sita ji, goddess of the earth and wife of Sri Rama, Bihar is the most appropriate place for BJP to begin atoning for its sins of omission and commission, and preparing for the return journey to Ayodhya. 

Jayalalithaa’s minorityism 

The Advani clique will also have to explain its obsession with wooing and accommodating AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa at any cost.

For reasons best known to itself, a section of the party decided to woo Ms. Jayalalithaa despite her previous behaviour, and Ravi Shankar Prasad was deputed to take Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to her Chennai residence for lunch. The much-hyped January 2008 Pongal lunch, arranged by an arrogant strategist, enraged bhaktas of the Kanchi Matham, who felt that the leader closest to the Hindu heart should not be seen in her company. But they were ignored; and Narendra Modi was not allowed to visit the Kanchi Matham in that trip.

To his credit, he saw merit in the Hindu angst and invited the Kanchi Shankaracharya to his state, where he was received with due honour.

These public relations exercises with Jayalalithaa proved futile as she refused to enter a pre-poll alliance with the BJP. Yet power brokers in Chennai kept talking about a deal with Jayalalithaa and kept promising they could bring her to the table post-2009 elections, even when it was known that some of them were refused entry across her threshold!

Mr. Advani will have to explain this keenness for Jayalalithaa even after suspicions arose that she may have converted to Christianity secretly, and that is why a Bishop performed service at her residence on Christmas last December.

Regardless of her personal religious affiliation, Advani must explain why BJP jettisoned Hindutva in its election campaign yet allowed allies to court religious minorities in an overtly communal fashion. The 2009 AIADMK Manifesto had a section devoted to minorities which stated that:

India’s uniqueness in the world polity is its secular fabric that has withstood the ravages of time. Today, several forces are working overtime to tear that fabric asunder and lower India’s image in the eyes of the world. To prevent such a situation, the AIADMK proposes the following:
- Top priority for addressing some of the long-standing problems of Dalit Christians for reservation
- Subsidy for Christians undertaking pilgrimage to Jerusalem
- All Souls’ Day to be made a Restricted Holiday
- Hostels with all facilities at nominal charges at towns of religious significance to Christian, Buddhist and Muslim communities in order to attract pilgrims from India and abroad
- All genuine security concerns of the minorities to be addressed and resolve to knit a homogenous, tension-free, truly secular social fabric.

This reads like a diatribe against the Hindu community, a kind of hate speech commonly associated with missionaries and news converts. It is for the AIADMK cadres to decide if, like the Tamils of Sri Lanka, they are willing to be ruled by leaders of a different religious affiliation, or if they will search for a Hindu Indian Tamil leadership when they find that the leaders are beginning to espouse a different political agenda. All that is in the future.

For now, BJP and L.K. Advani must apologise to India’s Hindus for brazenly cohabiting with Hindu-baiters in the name of political compulsions, and abandoning the Hindu cause on the battlefield of moha, lobha, ahankaar (illusion, greed, pride).

Advani must go

As Mr. Advani has refused to even formally accept responsibility for defeat in the recent Lok Sabha elections, where the party projected no issue before the electorate except his desire to be prime minister, BJP must quickly discard him and move on.

Unless BJP is actually functioning as a ‘Shadow Congress,’ there is no need to be guided by Congress precedent in the 1999 elections, as Venkaiah Naidu is doing when he says that Sonia Gandhi never stepped down then. The fact is that Congress did not change its leader because it is centered round a dynasty; BJP is supposed to be an ideological party.

Sadly, it has degenerated most disgracefully into a Cult of L.K. Advani. That Cult has failed to become the Religion of India - it must be allowed to wither away.

The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com

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