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Millennium Post

Saffron camp looks splintered at heart

A series of induction-expulsion sagas has played out within the BJP quarters laying bare the many cracks in the saffron camp. While tainted figures like Pramod Muthalik and Sabir Ali were shown the door within hours of their entry into hallowed corridors of BJP paradise, Jaswant Singh, veteran leader and a dissenter par excellence, was also driven out from the party, which banned him for six years. Inasmuch as these rather diametrically opposite characters have faced the same fate, what it signifies is the serious churn, in terms of ideas and novelty of leadership, within the BJP rank and file. While turncoats and political opportunists like Pramod Muthalik, whose unsavoury history of inciting communally-charged violence has invited scathing criticism from poll watchers, as well as defectors like Sabir Ali, have latched on to the BJP bandwagon sensing its imminent victory riding the Modi wave, internal critics such as Jaswant Singh have faced much opposition. Given that Muthalik’s and Ali’s induction into the party were engineered to cater to the basest of religious and communal instincts still seething within people, it is evident that not everything about the BJP depends on Modi-driven agenda of economic growth and development. Moreover, as Muthalik and Ali had been proved as rank embarrassments to the saffron camp, it is equally evident now that picking contestants with a decidedly unethical baggage is less likely to reap dividends in this election.

However, that said, saffron camp’s overtures to Muslim sentiments by inducting the likes of Ali or its wooing of the Hindu hardliners by giving entry to someone like Muthalik exposes once again the strategies that mainstream political parties have banked on for ages. Giving wind to naked communal forces even as they give lip-service to ‘poison of communalism’ in election rallies, or bring in anti-communalism bill to tackle religious and sectarian violence, is sheer hypocrisy that is common to the established polity. Within the Congress, even though Rahul Gandhi has distanced himself from Imran Masood, the latter’s ‘hate speech’ has gone great lengths in further galvanising hurt pride of the minority communities, which have been torn asunder by recent riots in UP. Essentially, the BJP has been rather kneejerk in its acceptance of untrustworthy candidates like Ali or Muthalik, though by expelling them summarily it has tried to gain back lost credibility. What is deeply unfortunate is BJP’s inability to utilise old war horses like Jaswant Singh, whom it has now exiled for six years. Given that the veteran and former external affairs minister chose to be the free spirit and critic-at-large, and never regretted his dabbling with ‘historical secularism’ of controversial leaders like Jinnah, Singh was too radical a face that BJP, banking on its middle-of-the-road, economic and cultural nationalist agenda, could not assimilate. The splinters in the saffron camp are being hurled around and burning a hole in the diminishing credibility of the Modi brigade, even though political compulsions can be best explained only from the comfort of retrospective vision.
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