The Bhartiya Janata Party seems to have tryst with doom. In the wake
of scams and scandals in the Congress-run government, the BJP was
gaining ground. Its performance in Parliament was comparatively better
and its younger leadership assertive and more meaningful. But once
again old RSS men who have been riding the party has brought it back
to square one.
First Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi joined issued with Bihar
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the concept of secularism and then RSS
played the Hindutava card. Both have scotched even the remotest chance
of BJP returning to power. A person who has his hands tainted with the
blood of Muslims cannot be projected as India’s next Prime Minister.
Nor can the false clothes of culture hide the real face of adherents
to Hindu Rashtriya concept.
The BJP has, by and large, remained quiet. One if its leaders has
spoken out of turn and questioned the very concept of secularism. But
he was hushed up quickly. It seems that the party did delude itself
with the idea that the Hindu voters were beginning to own the RSS
philosophy. The BJP should have learnt the lesson in 2009 when it was
all set to win but lost to the Congress.
Political parties, including the Congress, do not understand the new
electorate, mostly young. It is liberal in outlook and hates to mix
religion with politics. This was the ethos which the nation adopted
during the independence struggle and after freedom as a pole star
under the leadership of Mahatama Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
True, regional chauvinism, which is co-terminus with caste and
community in certain states, is rearing its ugly head. This is because
the Centre looks confused and equivocal when it comes to enunciate
policies which demand secular credentials.
Having little feedback from the field, New Delhi continues to
monopolise power and fails to appreciate that the decentralization
would infuse life among the people in a state. Regional aspirations
have got a new edge in the past years and the locals are fired with
confidence that they can sort out their problems themselves and find a
consensus quicker than the remote New Delhi does.
This is the reason why Trinamul Congress won in West Bengal and
Samajwadi Party in UP. The voters found the parties closer to them and
more sympathetic to their problems. Even if these regional parties do
not give them a better administration the people are not likely to go
back to all India parties which they have found failing them again and
again. They may try another party within the region because they are
getting convinced that all India parties are not an answer to their
problems of appalling living conditions.
The idea of India may be pushed further into the background. There
may be insurgents and separatists in certain areas to assert the
identity of their caste or community, believing that in the affairs of
all India politics they may get lost. Much would depend on how New
Delhi handles the situation. The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State
relations has become outdated. Had its recommendations been
implemented when the report came out more than two decades ago, the
demand by the states to have more powers might not have arisen. The
Centre has to curtail the subjects it has, either voluntarily or
through a Constitutional amendment. Apart from Defence, Foreign
Affairs, Currency and overall financial planning, New Delhi should not
have more subjects. Once it decentralizes its power it should ensure
that the decentralization goes all the way, from the state capital to
the district and then to the Panchayat so that people themselves
participate in governance.
The two main parties, Congress, the BJP and the Left would have
problems. The Left does not seem to bother because it is dictatorial
in its working. The CPM ousted a member from the party even though he
had resigned after supporting Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress Party’s
presidential candidate. Yet both the Congress and the BJP need to
handle their members carefully. Even when a state Chief Minister
speaks out of turn, he has to be brought around as has been the case
with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, although he is a creature of
Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The BJP faces a bigger problem because it rules in twice the number
of States the Congress does. Leave Modi apart—he is a bull in the
China shop—the Chief Ministers in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and
Karnataka are too tall to tame. They are leaders of their own
communities and command wide influence.
Both parties would have great difficulty for 2014 election, first in
choosing the top person and then tackling him or her. Take for
example the BJP, it is already wooing Vasundheraraje Sindhia, former
Chief Minister, who thumbed the party and stayed in the wilderness
because she was sure that the Central BJP would one day come to her
and accept her authoritarian leadership.
Problems of the Congress on this count are negligible. Sonia Gandhi
has all the authority. That Rahul Gandhi, her son, should be nominated
as number two has already been done. There is no dissidence and she
alone, more so after the departure of Pranab Mukherjee, has the
confidence of allies in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
The BJP would need more and more assistance of RSS to sort out
difficulties with the state leaders. Realizing this, RSS Chief Mohan
Bhagwat has announced that Modi has all the qualifications to become
India’s new Prime Minister. However, this has naturally infuriated the
BJP’s main ally, Janata Dal (United). Its President Sharad Pawar has
said that if Modi is the Prime Minister candidate, the JD (UP) would
quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
What is wrong with having a Hindutava prime minister’s questions
Bhagwat? This question itself shows how RSS lives in a world of it own
and does not face the reality of secular India. For the BJP, already a
divided house, the confusion is more confounded. It realises that the
country can never be ruled through a communal agenda. Even the former
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee realized this and always put his
liberal foot forward. He refused to oust his Principal Secretary
Brijesh Mishra despite the pressure of RSS. But then the BJP’s problem
is that it does not have a tall person like Vajpayee to withstand the
pressure of RSS. EOM