The varied response to my last entry, Locating BJP’s Ideology, is also indicative of the lack of unanimity and the confusion that prevails within the party.
There are those who swear by ‘Hindutva’ and believe that the path to electoral success lies through communal polarisation. Their logic: Muslims won’t vote for BJP in any event; the ‘Hindu vote’ is fragile and given to fragmentation along caste lines; and, in the final analysis, emotive and not substantive issues matter during elections.
Then there are those who believe ‘Hindutva’ (in whatever form) has been grafted on the party needlessly. They would rather go along with ‘Integral Humanism’. There’s a problem though: Not too many of those who espouse this line are well-acquainted with Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s exposition of ‘Integral Humanism’. Intellectual rigour is not the forte of either this group or any other; political rhetoric is often palmed off as ideological discourse.
There’s a third section in the party which is ‘ideology neutral’, does not have either the time or the inclination to study and internalise the ‘political philosophy’ of the party. They are there for reasons that I have elaborated upon in my previous post.
Confusion on the ideological front is confounded when senior leaders dismiss ideology in the most facile manner. LK Advani has on more than one occasion said that “ideology has no relevance to governance”.
Which perhaps explains why the BJP in power (1998-2004) failed to meet the voters’ expectations while dealing with terrorism, Bangladeshi infiltration and even something as ‘secular’ as reviewing the Constitution or dealing with corruption.
Let us not forget that after promising to detect, detain and deport illegal immigrants, the BJP actually floated the idea of issuing ‘special identity cards’ (work permits) to them. The BJP had pledged to repeal the IMDT Act, but it didn't do so in the six years it was in power. It needed a Supreme Court judgement to spike this monstrosity after the UPA came to power.
The Prime Minister need not have visited the Vatican during the India-EU Summit in Rome only to be castigated by Pope John Paul II and handed over a demarche. A party president who was caught on tape taking cash was merely made to stand in a corner instead of being packed off in sack cloth and ashes. The bar for ministerial probity should have been set much higher. Arrogance came to substitute humility. The BJP played ducks and drakes with the Bofors scam case. Bureaucrats who discovered 'RSS links' were promoted over able and intelligent officers. Navin Chawla was rehabilitated.
The flip-flop over relations with Pakistan (Lahore bus journey-Kargil-Agra-Parliament attack-aar paar ki ladaai – let’s kiss and make up) and the constant hand-wringing made a mockery of the BJP-led Government. It’s not sufficient to distance yourself from the capitulation at Kandahar; it was a collective decision, never mind what certain individuals have to say. I was in the PMO those days and I can vouch for this fact.
Therefore, what is required is clarity of thought. The BJP must decide its ideological direction/orientation, reframe ideology within the matrix of today’s India, and stand by it. Or it must boldly stand up and say, “Ours is an ideology neutral party. We shall sway with the wave.”
The consequences of the former course of action would be three-fold:
. Those allergic to ideological rigour will make an exit. This could debilitate the party in the short and medium term, but strengthen it in the long term.
. The BJP’s integrity quotient will increase.
. The drift which began in 1998 will be arrested.
The consequences of abandoning ideology would also be three-fold:
. Those who lack morals and scruples shall take over the party.
. The BJP will, in due course, become a pale shadow of its past and jostle for space with the RJD and SP.
. The drift will gather speed; integrity quotient (at an all time low) will plummet.
A couple of points merit mention:
a. Commitment to ideology does not amount to shrill enunciation and raucous denunciation.
b. Hindutva does not have to be limited to politics of exclusivism or identity-based politics.
Linked to the issue of ideology are three other important issues:
I propose to write about these in the coming days. Tomorrow I shall write about 'Hindu expectations' and the BJP's role.
Your feedback is valuable. Comments are not ‘censored’ (an apprehension expressed by a reader) but we should avoid personal attacks and derogatory language.