It is back to hypocrisy for the BJP over Varun Gandhi.
There was not a single BJP flag amid the crowd that assembled to greet Varun when he arrived in Pilbhit, and proceeded to the local court to surrender before it. But there were saffron flags of numerous other hardline Hindu groups that are close to the BJP without being a part of it.
As the main Opposition party making a serious bid for power at the Centre, the BJP wants to be seen as responsible and inclusive, firmly committed to observing the model code of conduct. It has allies like the Janata Dal-United, Indian National Lok Dal and Asom Gana Parishad, which it can’t do without, but which draw Muslim votes and don’t share its majoritarian ideology. It can’t afford to be seen as openly backing the kind of divisive politics Varun — if the CDs of his
speeches are authentic — has been promoting.
At the same time the BJP is aware its majoritarian ideology is its only USP. Take away Hindutva from the BJP, and what is left? Not even the charisma of A.B. Vajpayee anymore, which it used in earlier elections.
It has a lot to lose and nothing to gain by distancing itself from Varun: such a step will further alienate its core Hindu supporters, already unhappy with it for the secular colour it has been trying to acquire in the past decade and more, without adding a single secular or Muslim voter to its kitty.
“No matter what we do to distance ourselves from Hindutva, Muslims never vote for us,” a Muslim BJP leader once confided to HT. It would have been electorally suicidal for the BJP to disown Varun.
“We don’t support Varun’s comments,” said Kalraj Mishra, in charge of the UP campaign. “But our opponents are making too much of them.” Varun’s gambit seems to have been an independent decision. But once the storm broke, the BJP realised being defensive would demoralise the cadre. Hence, the decision to hit the streets on Saturday.