BJP’s poor performance in the parliamentary elections, which shocked the party and its friends to no end, has given rise to discordant voices from within the party. Some of those at the helm of affairs tried to pass on the blame to the party’s ideology while others indulged in the blame-game to hide their pique. Some senior leaders vehemently demanded accountability and questioned the process of handing out “puraskar” that had no relation with the “parinam” conveniently forgetting their own case histories. Confusion about the ideology and party’s socio-economic philosophy is a painful reality. While the party chief talked about BJP occupying the rightist space, a friendly commentator insisted the parivar was left-of-the-centre. Both are off the mark. Integral humanism by which the party swears is a holistic philosophy that is neither left nor right of the centre. In any case, these terms are no longer relevant in the fast-changing world. Communists claim to be a leftist party but follow a capitalist line in states where they are in power. As for the Congress, it is a party in which dynasty’s self-interest is central to its very existence.
It is indeed painful that an ideology-driven and cadre-based party like the BJP should dither and question its ideological moorings after every electoral setback. There is an urgent need to address with courage and conviction the confusion in the party over its core ideology. A senior BJP leader was reported to have told media that he didn’t understand what Hindutva stood for during his three-decade-long association with the party. It raises two questions. First, did the party make any serious effort to educate its parliamentarians and cadres about its ideology, social philosophy and policies? Second, was the learned leader too busy evolving a strategy to get into the union cabinet even after suffering a humiliating defeat in parliamentary elections to bother about his party’s ideology? He is not the only one of the kind. There are many in the party who never demanded a rethink about the ideology while they enjoyed fruits of power and suddenly became acutely aware of its deficiencies after the party suffered an electoral setback. Nor is there any dearth of social climbers who are enjoying power without responsibility because of their close proximity to top leaders.
Hindutva is an inclusive and egalitarian philosophy emphasising the centrality of Hinduism and our ancient culture, though it has been demonised by the self-serving “secular” industry and defamed by upstarts who make irresponsible statements without understanding the noble concept. This concept is neither fixed nor stagnant. It is ever evolving and constantly refreshes itself adjusting to new circumstances incorporating new and noble values. Hindutva relishes diversity and liberalism in its purest form. Unfortunately, many in the BJP are not committed to its core ideology and pay only lip service to it. As is common to all ideologies, grassroots workers rarely grapple with intricacies of philosophy and identify themselves with symbols. Ayodhya, national integration, territorial integrity, respect for women as a symbol of motherhood, service to the deprived sections of the society and efforts to uplift them and eco-friendly economy are amongst Hindutva’s countless symbols through which its adherents identify it. That is why many Hindus were deeply hurt when someone described Ayodhya as a cheque that can’t be encashed twice. Construction of a grand Sri Ram temple at Janmabhoomi is a matter of faith and not a mere political agenda for millions of Hindus. Again, party’s cadres were disillusioned to hear top leaders saying ideology has no role in governance. What is worse is that the party allowed upstarts to hijack its ideology and agenda by projecting a distorted version of the concept. BJP is nothing if not a Hindu-savvy party but that doesn’t mean it is anti-Muslims or anti-Christians.
Sections of media and certain elements in the party want BJP to distance itself from the RSS so that it becomes more acceptable to the masses. They have conveniently forgotten the circumstances in which BJP came into existence in 1980. It was because of the refusal of the Jana Sangh segment of the Janata Party to severe its ties with the RSS that its top leaders were thrown out of the party. Launching of BJP was the natural consequence. If the BJP has grown in strength and popularity during the past three decades, it is because of the motivation and support it received from the RSS and its sister organisations in the ideological parivar. However, it is for the BJP to decide whether or not it wants any link with the RSS. It is also for the party to decide once for all whether it wants only symbiotic relationship with the ideological family or it is bound to it with the umbilical cord. RSS is a movement launched for all-round national regeneration and has unflinching faith and commitment to Hindutva as articulated by Dr. KB Hedgewar and his illustrious successors, including Shri Guruji and Shri Mohan Bhagwat. RSS is interested in neither power politics nor back-seat driving. It offers support to all patriotic organisations and those committed to Hindu nationalism. It has proved beyond doubt during the past 80 years that it can’t be taken for a ride. RSS is not interested in internal affairs of any political party, but it would ensure that any party seeking its blessings will have to adhere to the core ideological moorings, inject idealism in its leaders and cadres, improve its work culture to inform it with democratic values and adhere to a certain kind of discipline that allows total freedom of expression within the party but no breast-beating in public forums.
A sincere and sustained effort to restore the primacy of the cadres and allowing democratic spirit to inform all actions will do wonders to the party. It also needs to have a fresh look at its constitution.