Politically assertive RSS is the need of the hour- I
by B R Haran on 14 Sep 2009 5 Comments

Present status of BJP
The 2009 election defeat was more humiliating for the BJP than that of 2004. The latest defeat can be attributed to failure to analyse the reasons for the 2004 defeat. The party failed to analyse state-wise, constitution-wise problems, reasons for receiving the people’s mandate in 1999, what promises were made to the electorate then, whether it ruled as per people’s expectations, and whether it convincingly conveyed the reasons for its inability to fulfill commitments.  

BJP also failed to take steps to grow and strengthen itself in states where it is weak in the last decade. Though the party retained power in stronghold states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh etc., it lost in its Rajasthan stronghold mainly due to internal strife. Its victory in states such as Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, etc could be attributed more to anti-incumbency faced by Congress governments than the growth of its support base. Even in Delhi, it could not sustain itself in the assembly elections despite its overwhelming victory in the local body polls. The only state where it can claim a sort of genuine victory along with growth in support base is Karnataka. 

There can be no doubt that the five year UPA regime was one of the worst India has seen since independence. The performance of Manmohan government was below par in almost all fields, whether education, health, agriculture, home affairs, external affairs, security, or economy. A responsible and shrewd opposition would and should have used the failures of the UPA government to its advantage, both inside and outside parliament. BJP miserably failed in this aspect and lost a great opportunity to come back to power. In fact, it has been committing more mistakes after its loss now, than what it had done after its loss in 2004. 

General categories of political parties

In general, we can place political parties in three categories: ‘Dynastic’ (Family Corporations - like Congress, DMK, RJD, PMK, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, National Conference, PDP, JD-S, etc); ‘Autocratic’ (Personal fiefdoms – like AIADMK, BSP, NCP, Trinamool Congress, Viduthalai Chiruththai Katchi, etc); and Democratic (parties with considerable inner democracy such as BJP, CPM, CPI, JD-U, etc). 

With regards to Dynastic parties, the credit for electoral victories goes to the concerned families and any blame is borne by other leaders and cadres. As long as the family has spineless leaders and cadres waiting at the doorsteps, the party doesn’t face any problems after electoral defeats. Similarly, with regard to Autocratic parties, the credit for victories goes to the party supremos, and as long as sycophant leaders and cadres crawl at their feet, they do not face any problems after electoral losses. With regard to Democratic parties, which have a semblance of inner party democracy, credits for victories are generally shared by attributing them to ‘team work’. But the moment the parties lose, problems arise and blame games start leading to chaos! The BJP is exactly at this kind of a stage now. 

Both the dynastic and autocratic parties have been able to regain their composure after losses due to the control the families and supremos have over leaders and cadres. The nation has witnessed such revivifications many times. But after two consecutive defeats, the BJP seems to have lost its balance totally. This is not good for the country and democracy. 

Leaders’ failure and party’s fall

Even after 100 days of UPA’s second term, the BJP has not come out of its conundrum. A party which claims to be ‘a party with a difference,’ boasting inner party democracy and discipline, should have immediately made future plans. The leaders should have analysed the reasons for defeat, decided to act as a constructive opposition, discussed strengthening the party in weaker areas and prepared a roadmap for the next five years. For a party with seasoned and capable leaders, it doesn’t augur well not to have come out of its imbroglio even after 100 days of defeat.   

BJP leaders are all experienced and have seen many elections. It is sad to see them blaming each other and fighting with one another. Leaders like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie could not digest the recognition given to others like Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj without going into a sensible analysis of the electoral defeat. The forced resignation of B.C. Khanduri as Uttarakhand Chief Minister after putting the blame on him for the party’s defeat, and the party’s incapacity to do the same to Vasundhara Raje, has become a problem. The media speculated about a resultant cold war between Rajnath and Advani due to Vasundhara taking advantage of being in Advani’s coterie and refusing to abide by Rajnath’s diktat.

Haphazard handling of Jaswant Singh issue

As Jaswant, Yashwant and Shourie felt humiliated at the lack of response from the party high command to their calls and letters, they aired their grievances via the media and Yashwant also quit all party posts. These developments cast an ugly spell on the party. Meanwhile, some excerpts from Jaswant Singh’s book, “Jinnah: India-Partition, Independence,” glorifying Mohammed Ali Jinnah and criticizing Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru, was leaked to the media, which made BJP leaders boycott its launch function. In fact, Party president Rajnath Singh had earlier prevailed over Jaswant to postpone the launch of his book by citing the Rajasthan Assembly and subsequent general elections. 

The ‘Chintan Baithak’ was organized in Shimla; Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie were not invited. Only Jaswant Singh had an invitation and he reached Shimla in time. The BJP leaders, fuming because of the book, hastily decided to expel him from the party and conveyed the decision to him by phone. The news shocked the nation, as he was one of the founder leaders of the party; had served it for three decades; was Minister of Finance and External Affairs during the NDA regime; and had held various party posts and was an ex-serviceman too!

Jaswant’s expulsion without even calling him for an enquiry and giving him an opportunity to explain his position created a sort of sympathy for him among the general public. Even a section within the party was unhappy at the way he was expelled. Nevertheless, the party sent a tough message that anyone defying the party and deviating from ideology would meet the same fate. 

Advani’s infamous Jinnah speech of 2005 came back to haunt the party and a section felt Jaswant should not be axed when Advani was pardoned for the same mistake of praising Jinnah. But there is a lot of difference between the two and Jaswant blamed Sardar Patel for the Partition apart from eulogizing Jinnah and clearing his name. Though the BJP’s expelling Jaswant was uncivilized, the way he behaved after his expulsion by name calling, criticizing RSS, making a number of allegations and going to Pakistan and criticizing our national leaders in their media, made the nation feel his expulsion was right after all.  

Consequences of Jaswant’s expulsion

The BJP high command started pressurizing Vasundara to resign from the post of leader of the leader in the Rajasthan Assembly. Though leaders like Yashwant Sinha kept quiet after Jaswant’s expulsion, Vasundara kept evading the party diktat and Arun Shourie minced no words in criticizing the high command in an interview to a TV Channel. He came down hard on them, but cleverly praised the RSS and appealed to the RSS leadership to take control of the party.

This clever ploy restrained the leadership from taking any disciplinary action against Shourie, despite his calling them provocative names. The alertness which the high command showed against Jaswant could not be shown against Arun Shourie and this made B.C. Khanduri question the action against him while Vasundara was spared. 

(To be continued…)
The author is a senior journalist; he lives in Chennai 

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