Tuesday, May 26, 2009

BJP after its defeat: Hand-wringing is not introspection


I came across this story in the Times of India a couple of days ago:

MUMBAI: A section of Muslims is lobbying for the induction of former Minister of Minority Affairs, AR Antulay, into the Union Cabinet. Octogenarian Antulay lost the Lok Sabha election from Raigad to the Shiv Sena's Anant Geete... Antulay was the lone Muslim MP from Maharashtra in the 14th Lok Sabha. With his defeat, there is no Muslim representative from the State in the 15th Lok Sabha and many Muslims feel that his induction into the Cabinet and his subsequent nomination to Parliament through the Rajya Sabha would help reduce discontent in the community... A delegation of Muslims ... is leaving for Delhi soon to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi... "He is respected among Muslims and if he is made a Minister again, the Congress can ensure Muslim support in the Assembly polls which are a few months away,'' said Sami Khatib, president, Anjuman-e-Islam.

Three points need to be noted.

First, Antulay, who as a Cabinet Minister in the previous Government headed by Manmohan Singh had contested the televised version of 26/11 and insisted that Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare and two of his senior colleagues were not felled by terrorist bullets during the siege of Mumbai (thus lending credence to the desi Islamist fiction that it was a plot by Hindus and Zionists to blame Pakistan) could not swing the Muslim and 'secular' Hindu votes. He was defeated by the Shiv Sena's candidate.

Second, Muslims of Maharashtra are loath to accept the verdict of a democratic election since their man has lost and a Hindu has won. So, they want the Congress to get him in somehow or the other. If it doesn't, the Congress can discount Muslim support during the Assembly election later this year. I am not surprised Antulay is 'respected' by those Muslims who are not-so-subtly blackmailing the Congress.

[I read an interesting analysis of the 2009 election from the Muslim perspective:
"The 15th Lok Sabha that would be formally constituted any moment in the ensuing week will have a meager 28 Muslim MPs, far less than needed if compared with the percentage of their population, 13.4 per cent according to the 2001 Census..." The full analysis can be read at www.sahilonline.org.]

Third, for all its 'moderation', 'secularism', 'centrist politics' and 'appeal to the masses', the Congress couldn't squeeze in a Muslim winner from Maharashtra. So much for the hogwash that the BJP should learn from the Congress on how to carry all sections along.

It has been pointed out that the BJP's candidate (a VHP swami) in Hardwar (Uttarakhand) lost miserably, as did another VHP activist who was given the BJP's ticket for North-East Delhi constituency; the BJP candidate was trounced in Kandhamal (Orissa).

What has not been highlighted is the BJP's victory in Malegaon (Maharashtra) which has a huge Muslim population (said to be 50 per cent). There was much expectation that the Congress would wrest this seat from the BJP, courtesy the ATS's dubious case against Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur that they, along with nine other 'Hindu terrorists', plotted and executed the September 29, 2008 motorcycle bombing at Malegaon in which six Muslims were killed.

It is not surprising that this minor detail should have been ignored both by 'secular' media and those in the BJP who are wringing their hands for not sacking Varun Gandhi for his intemperate comments which, they believe, contributed to the party's defeat in the polls.

Of course, such claims amount to nothing but bunkum, and are aimed at deflecting attention from the main reasons why the BJP foundered (or should it be floundered?) so horribly. Till now there are no indications of any honest introspection by the BJP or an attempt to do a proper analysis. Everybody's covering up for everybody, which makes sense: Maintain the status quo so that nobody's affected.

BJP president Rajnath Singh at least has had the courage to state publicly that there were "certain flaws in the working and decisions of our party". Other notables have merely said, "The mandate is for us to sit in the Opposition... we will behave like a responsible Opposition." We would have been in the dark without such profound observations.

Here are some random causative factors that contributed to the BJP's humiliating defeat in Election 2009:

1. BJP lacks credibility. Voters don't trust the BJP, or what its present leaders have to say. For instance, when the BJP talks of terrorism, its record in office tells a different story. LK Advani trying to distance himself from the Kandahar episode has had a recoil effect. Or, when it talks of Bofors, a valid question is raised: What did the party do to fix the scamsters when it was in power? As for the BJP's tall talk on corruption, ah, well, let it be.
2. BJP lacks moral authority. It's not enough to preach. You should be seen to be practising rectitude.
3. BJP is neither fish nor flesh. Desperate to be endorsed by the 'secular' media, the English-speaking commentariat and the social elite of Delhi and Mumbai, the BJP has transmogrified itself into a 'B' team of the Congress. If the choice is between the Congress and its cut-price version, voters will naturally opt for the former.

Frankly, it all boils down to the BJP's 'IQ' -- Integrity Quotient.

The BJP, especially those who selflessly support the party and fly its flag, today reminds me of Sisyphus.


Arun said...

Found this funny post on post poll analysis:


Karan said...

Kanchanda, I agree with you on this.

Swabhimaan said...

The BJP was wiped out in Orissa not because of the 'communal' tag or Kandhamal but because its candidates were considered useless and downright corrupt. This is the first hand input I got from Orissa. So, this whole idea of turning Varun or Modi into scapegoats or believing the media that BJP lost because of its the 'communal' nature is not going to work. The party has huge problems within. Unless these are addressed BJP can't even dream of winning 2014.

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Bhavananda said...

Great analysis Kanchan da!
Few bloggers (and ELM columnists) have the clarity that you have. I could not agree more when you said that BJP lacks credibility. BJP is turning out to be a "Ghat ka kutta, na ghar ka na bahar ka" i.e. its neither truly secular nor truly Hindu.
As someone involved with drafting the party manifesto, with access to higher echelons of power, I hope you can drill some good sense into these octogenarian leaders. The grassroot BJP supporters are crying for a change.