For a party whose Prime Minister remains at the peak of his popularity after ten months in office, the BJP’s national executive in Bengaluru was a missed opportunity. The main takeaway of this meet was an endorsement of the government’s policies, including the new land acquisition law, but that was anybody’s guess.
Even as the national executive meeting was on, some of its parliamentarians stoked controversies with their perceived advocacy in favour of the tobacco lobby.
It was a perfect forum for the party to send out an unambiguous message to these MPs, also ministers like Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti of ramjada-versus-haramzada ‘fame’ and Giriraj Singh whose white-skin remarks left his party colleagues red-faced.
In the backdrop of a political row over the RSS’ ghar wapsi programme, it was the right time for the BJP to reiterate its political resolution, passed in its 2013 national executive meet that stated: “All communities whether majority or minority — religious or caste — are the same. The real meaning of secularism is sarva dharma samman (respect to every religion).”
At Ramlila Maidan in January 2014, the political resolution adopted by the national council had reminded people of the achievements of Narendra Modi as chief minister “peace, brotherhood and all-round development of all segments of society including Muslims whose growth rate in Gujarat is the highest in the country”. But, none of these found any reflection in the political resolution at Bengaluru.
Instead, the party’s national executive, which dwelt at length over its electoral triumphs and upcoming assembly and civic elections in different states, ignored its recent debacle in the Delhi assembly polls. There was no attempt to deliberate on whether controversial pronouncements of its leaders, its perceived indifference to attacks on minority institutions damaged its electoral prospects.
A strong message from Bengaluru could have reined in disruptive elements in the Sangh Parivar.
The Prime Minister has been cautioning parliamentarians against deviating from the main agenda of governance and asserted recently that the government “cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext”.
The BJP has, however, not been so forthright. Party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, for instance, feigned ignorance when he was asked about Giriraj Singh’s remarks. The Opposition has criticized the government for “double speak” with the PM harping on governance and the Sangh Parivar pursuing a different agenda. The Bengaluru meet was a good opportunity to set the record straight but the will to do so was missing.