PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: A quite extraordinary aspect of the supernatural implosion in the BJP is how the “disciplined party”—the democratic party with a difference—has dropped all pretence of being dictated to and directed by the half-pants of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
On paper, both sides claim that there is no formal link between the two outfits; that they are two very different entities, one a “cultural” organisation and the other its political apparition. In practice, though, as the events of the last fortnight demonstrate, the truth is known to the knicker lobby.
The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat gives an openly political interview on the eve of the BJP’s chintan baithak, which sets the agenda for the party’s post-poll introspection. He pitches his tent in Delhi where everybody from L.K. Advani to Rajnath Singh, and everybody else in between, grovels and genuflects before him in the full glare of the cameras.
The headlines all scream of the role the RSS is playing in drawing up a “succession plan”, its preferences, etc.
For the BJP and its supporters whose bread, butter and poha comes from deriding Congressmen for reverentially turning to 10 Janpath even to so much as sneeze, this—the parading of its earthy leaders before an unelected, unaccountable sarsangchalak—is a moment for their personal photo albums.
At least Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Congress, the convenor of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and an elected member of Parliament. What could be the excuse of India’s “principal opposition party” to be at the mercy of a thrice-banned organisation whose pernicious ideology draws heavily from Adolf Hitler?
An equally important fallout of the events of the last fortnight is the penumbra of the RSS that now envelopes the BJP, and is only likely to grow and enlarge in the future at this rate.
The generally agreed consensus after the “nasty jolt” (Bhagwat’s words in the Times Now interview) in the 2009 elections was that the BJP had paid a price, among other things, for its exclusivist philosophy, its neglect of the minorities, its support for pumped-up communalism, etc.
If the RSS is going to play a significant role in deciding the BJP’s present and future formulation, and if it is seen to be so openly playing such a role, will it help the BJP’s cause? Will it enlarge the BJP’s votebase? Will it make it more endearing to the young, the middle-classes and the urban voters, all of whom appeared to have abandoned it?
Or are we likely to see a more shrill, vicious and dangerous BJP than in the past?
Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express