The way of the Vistarak
Rahul falters while Amit Shah alters the terms of the game.
The hatred for Narendra Modi and Amit Shah that Rahul Gandhi and his Congress party display has the near same intensity as the hatred that Rahul Gandhi's great great grandfather had displayed towards Savarkar.
The only difference is that Nehru had some sort of an intellectual standing and an undeniable political presence and influence and the Congress party under him continued to be the principal party in the country, while the Congress under Rahul Gandhi is rapidly descending into a bottomless pit and Rahul himself displays no intellectual and political capabilities.
Nehru hated Savarkar because Savarkar was the only one he saw standing against his self-deluding deluge of an amorphous and debilitating Nehruvianism – a philosophy or aggregation of thought in which India, civilisational India, and Indianness took a backseat. The propagation of a woolly internationalism, enforcing it in our approaches and outreach ensured that throughout the years after independence, India under Nehru, never succeeded in generating its narrative, it always argued the others' case, it failed to be rooted in its self. While Savarkar articulated the need to be rooted in our national self. The founding philosophy of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, founded by Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee later, also spoke of the need for India to be rooted in her cultural and civilisational self and to create policies and impart direction that would keep her national interest at the forefront.
These positions were naturally antithetical to Nehru's internationalism. In fact, the Jana Sangh, too, saw hatred and abuse showered on it by Nehru and his followers. But now Nehruvianism is dismantling itself and growing irrelevant by the day, while the Congress wallows in confusion.
Rahul Gandhi thus is carrying on a pejoratively illustrious tradition started by his ancestor. His hatred for Modi and for Amit Shah stems from one core factor, the rootedness in India, that the duo display, the determination that they have hitherto exuded,– one at the level of governance and the other at the level of the political system and framework – gall him. The new India that they envision is an India that he opposes, for its manifestation will forever decimate the politics that Rahul and his ancestors have practiced in India, keeping her divided and on the edge, while themselves continuing to thrive.
For any political movement to sustain and perpetuate itself and to attract new adherents and fresh energy being in power, is certainly important but equally important is its capacity to undertake a regular, systematic and organic self-renewal on the ideological and organisational front. The capacity to enthuse ordinary workers with larger and yet achievable goals, to keep them energised and focused with meaningful action, to keep them focused on and imbued with the party's central founding ideals and philosophy and to equip them to understand, interpret and disseminate it with conviction are crucial dimensions of this self-renewal. In a prevailing atmosphere of de-ideologisation, the BJP under Amit Shah has succeeded in doing all of these.
The just-concluded Jana Raksha Yatra in Kerala, Amit Shah's countrywide extended tour programmes that he has undertaken over much of this year – spanning from Lakshadweep – to Jammu & Kashmir – to Puducherry – the dimensions and raison d'être of those tours, the wide and intense outreach at various socio-political levels that it aims at, the concept of the Vistarak – an individual who pledges to dedicate her/his time to party work for a fixed period in order to have an actual feel of the ground and of serious grassroots political activity and to immerse in the driving ideals of the movement, the Aajeevan Sahayog Nidhi through which he spearheads the movement for transparent political funding– all originated from his conviction that political movements must remain in a constant state of action, must come up with ingenious projects and outreach initiatives that will strengthen its base delink its survival and growth from the vagaries of political climate.
The Vistarak programme has attracted some very bright minds. In doing this, in trying to achieve this, Shah has displayed grit, determination, unwavering commitment, unequivocal articulation and undiminished zeal and energy. Someday a volume will have to be written recording and narrating how he attempted to alter the contours of Indian politics of our time.
Thus, apart from working for and winning elections, a political party, Shah always emphasises, ought to aspire to expend its energies into putting together a structure that will keep breathing fresh life in its quest and preserve its identity as a movement of national transforming.
The system that he has himself put in place, the method of working and of organisational outreach that he has designed and worked out if adhered to in future, will very gradually but surely alter the contours of Indian politics or the manner in which political parties engage. Most parties, especially the Congress and the communist parties have failed to do to this. They have either dissipated or disintegrated or have simply become election machines that activate themselves only during elections.
Rahul Gandhi's hatred for Shah is as intense as his own lotus-eating narcissism, simply because Shah negates all that Rahul hankers for. In confronting Shah, Rahul realises each day his own failure, his smallness of capacity and of vision, his minuscule reserve of energy and more fundamentally his overall incapacity to understand and to alter the course of Indian politics.
It is this that generates an acute denigration in him for Shah; it pushes him to use proxies to weave false tales, to resort to poisonous propaganda, in short, to be insidious without substance. Shah's growing stature, his unblemished record in public life, his capacity to successfully implement his vision into concrete action makes Rahul realise his own irrelevance, it makes him fret and froth!
Self-seekers, rent-seekers, dynasts and dynasty apologists will always perceive Amit Shah as a principal roadblock to their habit of perpetuating the old order of doing things. While they cower or scheme, Shah continues to fundamentally alter the terms of the game. It is this that endears him to the rank and the file.
(The views expressed are strictly personal.)