In 25 years the BJP has shaped itself as the party of the future. Its phenomenal success is not only in replacing the Congress as the number one political formation in the country, but in projecting an altogether novel development strategy, administrative culture, social philosophy and vision of a super power India. Its achievement in the economic front during its six-year rule at the centre is well acclaimed. It was under the NDA, that India emerged an economic, scientific power bloc and exploded the nuclear device to share a new level of respectability among the comity of nations. The NDA brought in an idealist practical paradigm of governance. The successes in the recent assembly polls reassured its cadre, of the fragility of the UPA interregnum.
Compared to its forerunner the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the BJP has in the last two and a half decades projected a pan-India image, a mass-based cadre and above all a nationally acceptable leadership. The party has chalked out a year-long silver jubilee celebration programme. It is designed to reclaim its past, rededicate itself as a vibrant vehicle of social change. This is an occasion for the BJP to review its policies, anchored as they are on the martyrdom of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to save Kashmir for India, Deendayalji'sintegral humanism, the sacrifice of millions of Swayamsevaks on movements for national rejuvenation like Ramjanmabhumi, uniform civil code and fight against Emergency.
No party can aspire to be all things to all sections. Every party has its catchment segment. The ideological dilution and bickering for the spoils of power have to some extent tanned its otherwise glittering profile. It is not enough to believe that indiscipline is a way of life of contemporary politics. People really mind absence of idealism and ideology, and the BJP loses elections more as a consequence of cadre weariness than voter disenchantment. While wishing the party on its silver jubilee year the word of caution is to remain catholic in its ideological moorings and brand equity; party with a difference.
Da Vinci Code as heresy
The Roman Church has woken up a wee bit too late to the threat posed by the best seller fiction The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brawn. It has just now issued an appeal to all Christians not to read and not to buy the book. Some Christian organisations in India last month echoing the call sought a ban on the book in India. This, after two years since the book was published and has sold 25 million copies in 44 languages! In fact, when the book was mentioned in these columns a few weeks ago, (January 30, 2005) it had not yet caught the eye of the storm. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has been assigned the cause of fighting the influence of the book on the believers and prevent its future success. The 70-year-old cardinal, who issued the appeal over the Vatican Radio is quoted as saying ?there is a very real risk that many people who read it will believe that the fables it contains are true.? Bertone is a former soccer commentator and is discussed as a contender for succeeding the ailing Pope.
As Ms. Maureen Dowd wrote in New York Times, the reaction of the church to the novel has come at a ?lightning speed.? After all, the church took 350 years to reverse its condemnation of Galileo, it apologized for the silence of the Catholics during the Holocaust in the recent few years and only now, the church is beginning to think about death penalty. By this yardstick, the opposition to Da Vinci Code is quick. One of the reasons why the novel caught the imagination of the people is also the mystery that surrounds Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci was a genius and was a believer in the oriental philosophy. He is today being hailed as the man who first challenged the church'sideologies.
By seeking to ban reading of the book the church has only given credence to the sneaking suspicion in the mind of the reader if there was some truth after all in the plot. Many a people have had a re-look and a closer peep into the Da Vinci paintings mentioned in the book to find clues to the plot in the novel. By reacting to the novel this way, the church has only unwittingly engaged itself in the game of denying what according to it does not exist.