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PTI | ByBetween us | Pankaj Vohra
May 03, 2004 02:32 PM IST

With India Shining and "feel good" not delivering, BJP is reverting to Hindutva.

With the India Shining campaign and the so-called feel-good factor proving to be inadequate, the BJP has finally decided to once again use Hindutva as a major poll plank. In fact, the party has fallen back on its core issue after realising that development, good governance and a host of other matters raised by senior leaders were not resulting in any dividends and the only way of involving the entire Sangh parivar was to prop up Hindutva.

HT Image
HT Image

In doing so, the BJP has finally abandoned all pretensions of being seen as a party trying to appear as a secular outfit. Till some days ago, an impression which was sought to be created was that a large number of Muslims were willing to give the BJP a chance under the overall leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But the Goebbelian plan fell through largely because many of the party’s fundamentalist supporters started having second thoughts over this change of stance leading to a quick review of the entire poll strategy. The BJP leaders realised that while not many Muslims were coming to their fold, they were losing out on the Hindu vote.

Therefore, the strategists then did some mid-course correction and started targeting Samajwadi leader Mulayam Singh Yadav by creating an impression that he was coming close to the BJP and would not be averse to joining the NDA after the elections. The objective was to ensure that Muslims who have been strong supporters of Mulayam start viewing him with increased suspicion and in the process move over to the Congress or other secular parties. This would help in diluting Mulayam’s vote bank and help the BJP in consolidating its position on the strength of the Hindu upper caste votes which would help in improving the party’s overall tally in UP, politically the most important state.

Ironically, Mulayam’s rise in UP politics coincided with the rise of the BJP as well as the decline of the Congress in that state during the regime of P.V. Narasimha Rao,  particularly after the fall of the disputed structure in Ayodhya. But the BJP’s new gameplan under the leadership of Vajpayee could result in the rise of the Congress which would get reflected in the percentage of votes if not in seats.

As per the gameplan, the BJP, by allowing Gujarat CM Narendra Modi to spearhead the campaign in UP and other states going to the polls in the third and fourth phases, has made another attempt to consolidate its Hindu votes. Modi will be assisted by Uma Bharti whose name is also synonymous with the Ayodhya movement. Obviously, the BJP has realised that when the chips are down and if anyone can at this late stage bring them back into the numbers game it is only Modi. He is the best pinch hitter they have. The irony is that before the polls, there was speculation in the BJP circles that Modi may be replaced as the Gujarat CM. But he is now being put into the arena as the BJP’s main vote catcher, a leader for the future.

The question which now arises is that the parivar has finally acknowledged that efforts by Vajpayee and Advani have to be supplemented with those of Modi and Uma if the situation has to be improved. Whether Modi improves things for the BJP will get reflected in the seats the party gains. However, the importance given to him will prop him ahead of many others in the BJP’s internal power play in the post-poll scenario. For those who thought that the BJP was turning moderate, the Sangh parivar has unleashed Moditva in the country. One wonders how the allies, some of whom belong to secular parties, will react to this new poll ingredient. Was Sonia Gandhi right when she said that a vote for the NDA is a vote for the BJP?

But Modi’s campaign may not necessarily translate into seats for the BJP even if it  brings to the fore the hidden agenda of the Sangh parivar, which had been carefully camouflaged behind the moderate image of the NDA government. The campaign managers of the alliance must have realised by now that hypes created by slogans inspired by ads cannot win elections in a country as vast as India where the underprivileged far outnumber those who get swayed by media campaigns unless there is something to show at the grassroots level. The parameters of performance for rural India can be quite different from those of urban India.

If some of the exit polls are to be believed, things do not seem to working out for the NDA in accordance with its own projections. But then exit polls are not actual results and have proven to be wrong in the past. Of late, surveys and polls have been used to create deception or a cosmetic effect which does not represent reality.

One would hardly be surprised if Thursday’s newspapers quoting exit polls come out with headlines, ‘NDA inching towards the magic number’. It may as well be the final hype before the last round. It is only on May 13 that we will know who was right and who was wrong. For all you know, the exit polls may this time also prove to be correct. But that is how democracy works. Between us.

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