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Back to Moditva

The BJP realises that the party has to return to Hindu fundamentalism if it wants to taste power again, writes Prakash Patra.
None | By Prakash Patra
UPDATED ON JUL 26, 2006 01:58 AM IST

The BJP, which has been groping in the dark in search of a distinct identity and issues that can catch the imagination of the people, has seized an opportunity by deciding to depute Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to visit blast-hit Mumbai. This is a clear manifestation of its desire to get back to its core Hindutva politics.

Who else in the party but Modi could have given a clearer and firmer message? He has the right credentials; he can talk of minority appeasement by the ruling UPA and of how India, under this alliance, is too soft on acts of terrorism. And some people at least, the BJP knows, will listen.

Modi’s name and image evoke strong sentiments not only among the Muslims, but also among all those who believe in a civil and just society. The horrors of the Gujarat riots and the Modi government’s blatantly partisan and communal role are too recent to be forgotten. His government even sought to subvert the judicial process, resulting in the Supreme Court stepping in to ensure that justice was done to the victims. If reports are to be believed, Muslim fundamentalist outfits are drawing cadres from the community even today by showing them images of the Gujarat riots and its aftermath.

But the BJP had reasons to be proud of its Chhota Sardar Jr (the first chhota sardar being L.K. Advani, who sought to be portrayed in the mould of ‘Iron Man’ Sardar Patel). The Gujarat riots did wonders politically for the BJP. They ensured polarisation along communal lines and Modi returned to power with more seats. For the mother organisation, the RSS, too, Modi is a poster boy. It has certainly helped that under him, Gujarat has also become one of the best administered states, economically. The credit, which is for the most part due to the enterprising Gujarati community, is attributed to Modi alone. So, he had to be rewarded and brought to the centrestage of Indian politics.

Thus, one was not surprised when the BJP, at a meeting chaired by former PM A.B. Vajpayee, supposedly the liberal face of the BJP, delivered the message to the UPA government: “Govern or get out.” It decided to depute Modi to Mumbai. It’s a different matter that the message was delivered at an inappropriate time. When the need of the hour was to sink differences and stand united as a nation, the BJP decided to communalise the incident.

The same BJP preferred to gloss over the fact that its principal foes, the Congress and the Left, had not taken such a stance during its tenure. They did not ask the NDA to ‘govern or get out’ when Parliament was attacked, when Akshardham took place and not even when Jaswant Singh accompanied terrorists to Kandahar. Politics is certainly not known for niceties, but when it comes to the nation, one expects a degree of restraint from all parties.

The BJP realises that the party has to return to Hindu fundamentalism if it wants to taste power again. This is also what the RSS has been advocating. The BJP is also conscious of the fact that unless it improves its presence in the Lok Sabha in terms of seats, its allies in the NDA could gravitate towards the Left Front. Except for the Shiv Sena, it can hardly call anyone a dependable ally. It may be a coincidence that the day before the blasts in Mumbai, Maharashtra was almost on fire over the desecration of Bal Thackeray’s wife’s statue, supposed to be maintained by the Shiv Sena itself! The city was held to ransom and the state witnessed violent protests by the Shiv Sainiks. The Shiv Sena is also facing a tug of war on the issue of whether Uddhav or Raj will inherit the legacy of Bal Thackeray.

The BJP’s other ally, the SAD, known to be close to the Left parties, can at any time shift alliance. The JD(U) in Bihar, with whom it shares power, has been giving contrary signals. Its president, Sharad Yadav, is too independent to be bullied and has made no bones about his position on various issues. The party is aware that its alliance with the BJP comes at a price; during the Bihar assembly elections, the JD(U) had ensured that Modi was nowhere in Bihar, lest the party lose minority votes.

This being the ground reality, the BJP has no option but to consolidate its home ground — pursue communal and divisive politics. Politically, it’s a gamble worth taking. The suspected involvement of Pakistan’s ISI and the fact that the terror attacks had been committed by persons belonging to the minority community can give enough ammunition to the BJP to ignite passions. Who better to lead such a campaign than Modi?

The BJP’s campaign for the revival of a Pota kind of law is to be seen in this light. The UPA abolished the law because of its misuse, particularly by the Modi government, to harass the minority community and to settle political scores. One should ask the BJP, did Pota prevent the attack on Parliament, on Akshardham, on the Raghunath temple or on the J&K Assembly? Can any law prevent any such attacks?

Looking at the other side of the communal game, one is amazed at UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav’s defence of the Simi. Astute politician that he is, he is conscious of the fact that he will be the recipient of the capital yielded by the BJP’s polarisation of communities in UP. He, therefore, saw it fit to withdraw charges of treason against the Simi chief, when trains were being blasted by terrorists. If the charges were false, the Simi chief should have got an honourable discharge from the judiciary. That would have put him and Simi, whose involvement in the Mumbai blasts is suspected, on a higher ground, than the back-door chit given by Mulayam. But, elections are around the corner and Mulayam, like the BJP, can’t wait.

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