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Democratic Posturing: Sectarian Agenda
06/19/2008
By Ram Puniyani

Can BJP be committed to Plural India?

Democracy has infinite strengths but despite that those not believing in democracy can also play their game in the liberal space provided by this system. One knows that the electorate is supreme and acts as a great balancer between diverse political pulls and pressures, at the same time, it is likely that even the party which has no love lost for democratic values can also come to power through the same electoral process. Today one can very well reflect back on the experiences of Germany, where the worst mauling of democracy took place. The Nazi party, built around the agenda of 'Hate Jews', the 'glory of great German nationalism', could appropriate power through democratic means to abolish the democracy itself. This is one of the greatest enigmas of contemporary history, how does democracy protect itself from being usurped by the sectarian political streams, by the political streams which are controlled by outfits which openly call for restoration of the laws like the one's of Manu, or the greatness of inequality based Varna system (birth based hierarchy) or have the inbuilt political ideology which gives secondary status to women.

Yes, one is talking about the BJP, the political child of RSS, which could come to power at the head of a coalition and now is again trying hard to come to power by presenting its colors which may be deceptive and more appealing to unsuspecting allies and even to the ever vigilant electorate. Presently BJP is trying to pose as a moderate party, a party wanting to stand for the issues of development, at the same time pledging its unquestioning loyalty to RSS. RSS has the agenda to bring in Hindu Rashtra, and it regards democracy as an alien concept, it regards Indian constitution as being based on Western values, it asserts that Muslims, Christians and Communists are the internal threat to Hindu nation. These ideological gems are of course taken from the tallest RSS ideologue M.S. Golwalkar's, whose centenary was recently celebrated reaffirming RSS combine's commitment to his ideology, book Bunch of Thoughts, the basic Bible, nay Gita, of RSS and its progeny.  

The victory of BJP in Karnataka (May, 2008), without using the usual Hindutva agenda has given the impression that the party is a changing and is becoming a centrist party, aiming to take everybody along. Is it possible, can it happen? Some people also put forward the view that BJP is emerging on the lines of a Conservative pole in Indian democracy, as India is veering around the two pole democracy with liberal Congress on one side and moderate-conservative BJP on the other.

As such there is no truth in it. Before coming to that as an aside let's have a look at Karnataka elections. Here interestingly the vote share of Congress dipped from 35.28% to 34.59% while its seat share rose from 65 to 80. BJP on the other hand bagged 110 seats with a vote share of 33.86%, rising from the earlier 28.49, a significant rise, but still its vote share being lesser than that of Congress. Apart from many other holes in our parliamentary system, the one related to representation quantum of the parties should be kept in mind.  Paradoxically in Karnataka, the party which got second largest votes rules and the one with more votes sits in opposition? It may have a lot to do with the delimitation, reorganization of constituencies also.

Undoubtedly over a period of time BJP has built itself up in Karnataka. It began with raking up the issue of Baba Budan Giri dargah versus Datta Peetham. This issue was akin to the Ayodha of the South. And as political dividends accrued after Babri demolition one can see the political gains after making an issue of a holy shrine also. This primarily North Indian Party was looking for inroads in to South and what better issues than the emotive ones. The other issues which add on and contributed to the growth in Karnataka were the one's related to Idgaah Maidan, Urdu as second language and constant low intensity violence in the coastal belt. While BJP did not have any impressive showing in this region, the issue did help it in the communalization of the state as a whole. Adding on to this is the rapid urbanization of Karnataka, especially with the emergence of Bangluru as the major IT hub of the country.

The analysis of BJP support base in Gujarat shows that it has better support in the urban areas, amongst more literate, amongst the upper caste and amongst the affluent. The difference between BJP and Congress in this regard is marginal but gives significant indications of the agenda of the party. BJP has also been able to woo over a sections of tribal through the social engineering undertaken through its brothers-in-saffron, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. Also through Samajik Samrasta manch it has been able to win over sections of dalits.

With these things in background, now the message has already spread as to what is its real constituency, who will benefit from its agenda. The BJP/ Hindutva agenda is synonymous with opposing so called 'appeasement of minorities', abolition of article 370 in Kashmir and imposition of Uniform Civil code, and that was not so visible in Karnataka. So does it mean that BJP is a changed party, from the decade of 1980 when it strengthened it self around Ram Temple issue and the consequent anti minority pogroms? In no way! It does remain firmly tied to the apron strings of RSS, its parent organization, which wants to impose Hindu Rashtra, in place of secular democracy. Hindu Rashtra is parallel type of nationalism, akin to Muslim nationalism propagated by Muslim League in pre Independence time and practiced by Military-Mullah complex till late in Pakistan. BJP's core workers are from RSS, which alone has the real key to the final agenda of BJP. The colors it adopts from time to time are to suit the electoral compulsions. It has firmly given the message to its core constituency, through its past actions, that it is against the Muslim minorities as shown by its opposition to Sachar Commission, it is opposed to the rights of dalits as expressed through its opposition of affirmative action/reservations in any form, it is opposed to OBCs as can be deciphered from its propping up of Ram temple issue in the face of implementation of Mandal Commission. So now it need not keep saying that unless specifically asked for.

BJP's previous avatar Bhartiaya Jansangh was floated by Shyamaprasad Mukherji in 1951. Its' initial agenda was ban on cow slaughter and Indianization of Muslims. It did give the message to its core constituency, a section of Hindus. It saw a great opportunity in latching on to the Jayarakahs Narayan's Total Revolution, but soon it broke away and resurfaced as BJP with the goal of Gandhian Socialism. Gandhian Socialism was abandoned as Ram Temple showed more potential for being the nidus of divisive politics, RSS's core politics. Tam Temple campaign gave it, flesh and blood. By now having given the message to the core constituency of its conservative social and gender agenda, it can afford to play with its different issues to win over other sections of electorate and ally with opportunist parties, paving the way to power.

In recent Gujarat elections (2007), it could have merrily avoided the Hindutva agenda but for Sonia Gandhi using the word Maut ke Saudagar (Merchants of death). Only after feeling threatened by this apt characterization of its politics, it showed its real colors for its core constituency, by highlighting the justification of encounter killing of a criminal Soharbuddin, who happened to be a Muslim. And the message was clear. This RSS progeny's initial color was Gandhian Socialism, which soon faded with glitz of Ram Temple. Then it adopted series of issues related to identity and with the victory in Gujarat after the pogrom of 2002, it did not need to display its color Hindutva.

By now it is adept to manipulate the electoral arena and project the necessary issues. Seeing that it can not come to power on its own at the center, it will lure the opportunist centrist parties to ally with, so that it can unfold the Hindutva agenda bit by bit till it can come to total power to bring in a Hindu Rashtra as envisaged by its parent, the RSS. Hitler in similar situations did precisely the same, come to power using democratic space, ally with others till you are firmly in the saddle and then decimate the allies along with democracy. Whosoever said history does not repeat itself!