After the flood

The BJP, which claims to have a membership of 4 crore but is being run by a 40-member coterie, has a reduced strength. Some members of this coterie too have revolted, writes Pankaj Vohra.
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Updated on Jun 22, 2009 12:01 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Pankaj Vohra

Some very clear signals have emanated from the two-day meeting of the BJP.

First, the party is not interested in knowing the causes of its poll debacle and has decided to defer (read: avoid) the issue till August when some sort of a ‘chintan baithak’ is expected to take place. Second, even in the national executive, the majority of whose members were appointed by the coterie around L.K.Advani, there is complete dissatisfaction. Third, in order to shield others from the fire, party president Rajnath Singh has taken full responsibility for the defeat. But for some strange reason has not resigned from his post.

Fourth, an unsuccessful attempt to shift the blame on Varun Gandhi for the party’s defeat in Uttar Pradesh indicates that there were no buyers for this brainless theory. Fifth, Arun Jaitley’s absence from the crucial meet has raised questions whether he attached greater priority to cricket or to politics. And finally, the RSS has ensured that the BJP’s commitment to Hindutva continues to be its guiding force.

In a way, there seemed to be little purpose of holding the meeting, which took place under the strangest circumstances. There was a gag order issued by the president after some members of Advani’s coterie washed their dirty linen in public. But voices that wished to deflect the criticism from those responsible for the defeat to those who were on the periphery were allowed to be heard. For instance, comments blaming Varun Gandhi’s hate speeches for the party’s poor showing in the polls were amplified when everyone knows that the causes of the BJP’s defeat in UP were late distribution of tickets, inability to keep Kalyan Singh on board, and a non-practical and non-cohesive approach.

Attempts were also made to play down the fact that the entire election strategy had been devised and was sought to be implemented from the control room set up at a senior MP’s house and not from the party’s headquarters.

Superficial talk that the party had gained in some states and lost in others was encouraged, fully knowing that from a gap of seven, which existed between the Congress and the BJP in 2004, the difference in seats has risen to 90 in 2009. Who was trying to fool whom is something that needs to be also probed thoroughly.

The sad thing is that no one tried to find a remedy for the virus that has engulfed the party and Arun Shourie’s last minute intervention made in good faith also went a-begging since he was denied permission to elaborate on issues. So one wonders as to what kind of meeting took place in the name of the national executive. But that is how ‘fascist’ parties behave. There was no inner democracy that was on display and the Election Commission must take into account these developments when it monitors the BJP’s organisational elections next time.

Though the RSS has succeeded partly in ensuring that Hindutva remains the main theme of the BJP since it is its lifeline, its senior office bearers also watched things helplessly. In fact, the developments in the BJP reflect the impotency of the leadership of the RSS, which has for long claimed to be a nationalist and cultural outfit wanting to spread its ideology in every nook and corner of the country.

The developments show that the RSS top brass has failed and the RSS relevance even in the affairs of the BJP has been reduced to a large degree. A faction within the RSS held a secret conclave on Saturday night to plan how to take advantage of the situation and plant certain people in the BJP at crucial places.

The failure of the top RSS leadership to assert itself is hurting Hindutva forces more than it is helping them. To use Rabindranath Tagore’s words, the RSS bosses have spent all their time in “stringing and unstringing their instruments and the song they had come to sing still remains unsung”.

The result is for everyone to see. The BJP, which claims to have a membership of four crore but is being run by a 40-member coterie has a reduced strength.

Some members of this coterie too have revolted so one can imagine what must be happening to the party cadres. Had it not been for its chief ministers, the BJP’s numbers would have been less than 100. The party has lost, but those responsible for the defeat continue to occupy the positions they held.

Even the faction that enjoys the support of the RSS is keeping quiet wanting things to happen on their own. The reference is obviously to Murli Manohar Joshi, who should have seized this opportunity and offered to lead the party he has been associated with for more than six decades. He should have brought on board some others who are equally unhappy with the organisation’s affairs. Individual efforts cannot defeat organised efforts.

That is why Advani always wins. Between us.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021