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Non-veg vegetarianism

May 03, 2004 02:33 PM IST

The BJP is walking a delicate tightrope. Okay, so it?s not as much of a delicate tightrope walk as it is a lurch from one side to another.

The BJP is walking a delicate tightrope. Okay, so it’s not as much of a delicate tightrope walk as it is a lurch from one side to another. While the ongoing elections have seen the ruling party (cushioned by its NDA allies) exhorting Muslim voters to come out and vote for the Jan Sangh’s offspring, the last round of exit polls have made the BJP more than slightly nervous about being deserted by its traditional supporters: the Hindutva folks. This is a real matter of concern for a party that wishes to firmly capture the political centreground without losing out the means of doing so.

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HT Image

By keeping Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi out of the BJP’s nationwide campaigning team, the party had earlier signalled its decision to stick to its bijli-sadak-paani-India Shining-and-feel-good combo. The reasoning was that if it worked for the assembly polls a few months back, it would work for the Lok Sabha polls too. So what has made the same rather confident party bring Mr Modi — and a few others like Uma Bharti, not known for keeping a tactful lid on matters such as ‘Hindu pride’ — back in the campaigning fray in states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan? Answer: Because the BJP’s earlier confidence seems to be wobbling a bit. One doesn’t have to be a Venkaiah Naidu — whose earlier claim of the BJP getting 300 seats on its own slipped to a 200-plus last week — to know that the exit polls have rattled partymen. Effectively, the BJP is seeking to strike the right — some say, the ‘magic’ — balance of being pro-Hindutva and pro-secular at the same time. Somehow, this ends up sounding like being a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian at the same time.

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While Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been doing his bit to show liberal Indians — which by sheer dint of demography has a Hindu majority — and Muslims that the BJP has shed its old minority-bashing image, the BJP leadership also believes in holding on to its old faithfuls. For those who may have voted for the BJP because of its new ‘moderate’ image in the first two rounds of polls, Mr Modi and Co’s re-entry is likely to have them wanting their ‘money’ back. One wishes the BJP luck in this Mission Impossible. But as it happens in life outside the realm of politics, two-timing has its unfortunate consequences.

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