Millennium Post

Scouting for avoidable bad blood

A few weeks back leading right wing ideologue Swapan Dasgupta in one of his columns had talked about the influx of politicians in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) following the political environment indicating towards the possibility of a Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre post elections. Dasgupta was averse, in his enunciation, to welcome these leaders into the party fold.

He wrote that ‘there is no doubt that a steady stream of in-bound traffic does much to boost morale and demoralise the opposition. More important, in the context of the Congress (and AAP) bid to suggest that India will suffer a bout of communal indigestion if Narendra Modi is voted to power, the newcomers help expose the secular-communal divide for what it really is: Intellectual self-abuse. Ironically, it also helps break down the spurious perception that the BJP is a rigid ideological party. The commitment to a particular stream of thought may have defined the party at one stage of its evolution but political power invariably results in the dissolution of inherited certitudes.’

Dasgupta’s column appeared before Sabir Ali incident had hit the BJP. After the embarrassment ‘Dawood’s friend’, as BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi chose to call Sabir Ali, has caused to the party, one is sure Dasgupta would like to revisit the issue of scouting of fresh blood for the party. A few weeks back entering into an alliance with Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), led by another politician from Bihar, Ramvilas Paswan, too invited the wrath of a section of leaders from the state. It led to the Narendra Modi’s most vociferous supporters boycotting his rally in Muzzafarpur.

At that time, justifying the move, BJP’s prime political strategist Arun Jaitley wrote, ‘When certain political groups identify themselves with the NDA their area of influence may be confined to a particular State. However, their joining sends a larger political signal. A strong BJP has capacity to attract more friends and allies than a weak BJP. This groundswell of support which is visible in the BJP rallies is the game changer. It sends a message loud and clear of which way the wind is blowing. Today, those who had left the BJP in States like Gujarat and Karnataka have all returned adding to strength of the party. In states like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu we have significant allies. There are several states in which electoral tie-ups before the elections or political tie-ups after the elections are both possible and probable.’

Reading the two most prominent and articulate pronouncers of right-wing philosophy, the theory that the BJP has suicidal tendency of falling from the precipice just before the summit only gets reiterated. In 2004 it committed the grave error of inducting western UP don DP Yadav into the party even as a gutsy Neelam Katara had caught people’s imagination fighting to bring her son’s murderers to the book in the infamous Nitish Katara murder case. Yadav’s son was the main accused in the case. Public outrage forced the party to cancel DP Yadav’s membership.

Ahead of the last Vidhan Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, party committed similar hara-kiri admitting much tainted politician from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and a former minister in Mayawati government Babulal Kushwah into the party fold. And now the alliance with Ramvilas Paswan and the admission of Sabir Ali into the party fold; it has embarrassed the party like never before.

What pushes the BJP into committing such follies? First there is section within the BJP which wants to dissolve its image of a rigid ideological party and would walk an extra mile to induct anybody who could add to its ‘secular’ credentials. Second, there is the selfishness of the local satraps to enter into political alliances to add to the number, though ostensibly for the party but more importantly for their personal kitty.

Both these characteristics are very dangerous for the political outfit, which, unlike the Congress, exists on the foundation of a well-defined ideological line and is led by an oligarchy which is inspired by this ideology. This makes the BJP a party which is different from the Congress and which the party cadres rightly monetise as ‘party with a difference’. Then where is the hurry for the BJP to run after the riff-raff in scouting for fresh blood?

The party even while performing abysmally under the leadership of Lal Krishna Advani in 2009 managed to win 118 Lok Sabha seats. The opinion poll projections for 2014, even before the attempts to include Paswans and Sabir Alis were made, is giving the party a 200 plus seats. If such projections were to come true, it would be its all-time best performance. A strong BJP would certainly invite sufficient number of post-poll allies to facilitate government formation.

BJP must examine what is the basis for such projections in the opinion polls. It’s largely on the basis of endorsement its agenda of development and good governance is getting. The BJP governments in the states too have managed to keep itself by and large free of criminal contamination. It’s an endorsement of the performance of these governments.

The figures also reflect a perception of total disenchantment with the performance of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the centre. The slew of scams, pursuance of a regressive agenda of minority appeasement and espousal of caste-based politics and above all inability to counter the charge of infirm governance has all added to a sentiment which is helping the BJP. Under such circumstances, it would be least advisable for the BJP, which is different from the Congress in its moorings and functioning, to emulate latter’s politics.

The author is with Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting Editor, Millennium Post
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