The BJP is in a dilemma over Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) legislators’ assault on Samajwadi Party (SP) member Abu Azmi.
The SP leader was slapped in the Maharashtra assembly on Monday for taking oath in Hindi.
BJP leader Prakash Javdekar condemned the attack on Azmi, but qualified it. “The MNS behaviour destroyed democratic traditions. Hindi is a national language,” he said on Tuesday.
“But Azmi has surprisingly turned pro-Hindi. His father was pro-Urdu.”
Its assembly members, too, remained ambivalent. While Congress’ Amir Amin Ali Patel took the oath in Hindi to protest the attack, no BJP leader did so.
When the motion for suspending the four MNS MLAs who assaulted Azmi was moved, the BJP members chose silence. Their leader in the House, Eknath Khadse, condemned the incident, but called for a lenient action.
The BJP, which claims to be ‘the’ nationalist party, depends on the regional ally, the Shiv Sena, in the state. The Sena has lost ground to Raj Thackeray-led MNS.
Ironically, though BJP’s predecessor Jan Sangh and mentor RSS favoured a unitary (all power to the Centre), “one nation, one culture state”, the party today is defensive on regional-linguistic chauvinism.
The Jan Sangh, essentially a north Indian party, was a strong votary of Hindi as India’s official language.
“Proclaim one country, one state, one legislature… with no trace of regional, linguistic or other types of pride,” RSS ideologue M.S. Golwalkar said in Bunch of Thoughts.
The BJP has moved far from these formulations.
With tie-ups must for expanding base outside north, it has been forced to dilute its vision and go along with regional allies.
Its “nationalism” is tempered by ally Sena’s competitive regionalism, and at the receiving end are migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Jan Sangh’s core constituency.