Why BJP must dump RSS

 Amulya Ganguli,  in The Statesman, Kolkatta, 18 November, 2015. 

(Note: In this article, writer Gamguli high lights several points as self-evident, though they may not be that evident to others. Some of them are:1. It was mainly thanks to Manmohan Singh’s abysmal failure on multiple fronts, Modi could achieve a brute majority Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 8.37.28 pmwith 31% of votes; 2. Unless he strictly enforces a 10 year moratorium on communal violence promised at Red Fort he will not get this much votes next time;3.Failure of RSS to realize that centuries of multicultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious togetherness has made India totally immune to its venom of  communalism and divisiveness they are trying to inject through Khar wapsi or love jihad. James kottoor, editor)

For the second time in six years, the BJP resembles a kati patang or a drifting kite in fellow-traveller Arun Shourie’s telling phrase after the party’s 2009 defeat. Now, a mere year and a half after its return to power at the Centre, its humiliating loss in Bihar suggests that it is adrift again and will be lucky to win the next general election.

It will be a salutary exercise for the BJP leaders, therefore, to remind themselves that even its success in the last general election was something of a fluke – based primarily on the Manmohan Singh government’s abysmal performance on multiple fronts evident in a stalled economy and inability and unwillingness to tackle corruption.

But for the former accidental Prime Minister’s “gift” of the coveted chair to Narendra Modi, the latter wouldn’t have had any chance of success. As it is, his victory was based on 31 per cent of the popular vote with three states – Tamil Nadu, Odisha and West Bengal – rejecting him comprehensively.

If Modi wants to retain even this percentage, he will have to keep his promise of a enforcing a 10-year moratorium on sectarian animosity, which he announced in his first Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

More than his inability to force the pace of reforms, what has hurt him grievously in political terms is his failure to keep the pledge to eliminate inter-faith distrust and hostility.

The reason for this failure was the scant attention which the Hindutva Gestapo paid to the Prime Minister’s counsels of restraint. Instead, seeing the BJP’s assumption of power as a licence to start implementing their project of ushering in the Hindu rashtra, the storm-troopers ran amok with their vicious campaigns of ghar wapsi and love jihad.

There is little doubt that the saffron extremists would not have dared to indulge in their provocative antics but for tacit encouragement from the RSS. Considering that the concepts of ghar wapsi and love jihad had been promulgated by none other than the RSS sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, the militants knew that they could afford to ignore Modi.

They might even have been sceptical about how serious Modi was about his latest postures given his past record. It was only a question of time, therefore, for the level of saffron violence to rise from the re-conversion of Muslims to lynching them for eating beef. Bhagwat’s description of such murders as “small” incidents must have provided another dose of encouragement.

Even now, the responsibility for the Bihar debacle has been ascribed by BJP general secretary P. Murlidhar Rao to former M.P., Shatrughan Sinha’s and former Union home secretary R.K. Singh’s digs at the party leadership while Rao hasn’t said a word about Bhagwat’s call for a review of the quota system which is widely believed to have undermined the BJP’s prospects.

The party veterans – L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Yashwant Sinha – who have raised their banner of revolt against the Modi-Amit Shah combine – have focussed on the BJP’s failure to learn any lessons from the earlier Delhi debacle and not said a word about Bhagwat’s faux pas.

Since the elders want accountability to be fixed on individuals for the defeat instead of it being seen as a collective failure, as the Modi-Shah duo wants, Advani and Co. have no option but to question Bhagwat’s role if they are serious about their complaints.

Of the four, no one can be more aware than Advani of the BJP’s subservient relationship with the RSS since he was dragged kicking and screaming from the BJP president’s post at the behest of the RSS after his praise of Mohammed Ali Jinnah during a visit to Pakistan in 2005.

It must be obvious to all of them that as long as the RSS maintains its stranglehold on the BJP and continues to voice its poisonous anti-Muslim and anti-Christian worldview without caring whether it damages the BJP politically, Modi can forget his avowed intention of implementing his 21st century plans for the country.

He may have presumed that by planting the unworthy nominees of the Nagpur patriarchs on the various institutions – the Indian Council of Historical Research, the Indian Council of Culture Relations, the National Book Trust, the Film and Television Institute, et al – he will be able to divert the RSS, at least temporarily, from its agenda of ushering in the Hindu rashtra.

But it was a futile expectation which Modi, as a former pracharak, should have known. The RSS has no interest in bullet trains or digital communications but only in reducing the minorities to the status of second class citizens.

Unfortunately for the Grand Dragons of Nagpur – to use a term from the Ku Klux Klan – the Indian people in their wisdom are not amenable to its divisive project if only because they instinctively realize that it will ring the death knell for the country’s unity.

Centuries of togetherness in a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-religious society have made them immune to the virus of communalism, with which the RSS wants to infect the country.

Since the Bihar results have reaffirmed this rejection of the venomous RSS agenda, the BJP will be digging its own grave if it does not listen to the perceptive vox populi. As long as free and fair elections are held, the BJP cannot expect to win if it is seen to be cravenly beholden to the Grand Dragons.

The voters may occasionally turn to the BJP if it promises sabka saath, sabka vikas. But once they realize its hollowness in the wake of the rampages of the Hindu Right, they will drop it like a hot potato.

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