CONGRESS general secretary Digvijay Singh’s intemperate remarks against Baba Ramdev and the incessant attempts to link the yoga guru to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) should be seen as part of the grand old party’s strategy to keep itself in power in perpetuity. The idea is not only to malign Ramdev but also to present the Sangh Parivar as demonic and anything connected with it taboo. It is a strategy to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aloof from other parties.
The reasons are not difficult to find. The Manmohan Singh Government, remote-controlled by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has comprehensively failed on all fronts: inflation is killing the aam aadmi for whom the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) so sanctimoniously professes to work; corruption is rampant; industry is exasperated with rent-seeking; the economy has started feeling the strains of the UPA regime’s mindless populism; national security is in a mess, thanks to the Congress’ desire to win brownie points among Muslim fundamentalists; and foreign policy is in a shambles, the recent blunder being indirect support to the tyrant Gaddafi by opposing NATO strikes in Libya. The only way the ruling coalition can sustain for a substantial period of time is by keeping the Opposition divided.
The BJP got 18.8 per cent vote in the 2009 general elections, down from 22.16 per cent vote in 2004; for the Congress, the corresponding figures were 28.55 per cent and 26.53 per cent. Any genuine non-Congress formation at the Centre is inconceivable without the BJP.
It is not for the first time that Digvijay Singh has chosen to castigate the Sangh Parivar. On December 19 last year, he said, as reported by PTI, “In the 1930s, Hitler’s Nazi party attacked the Jews… Similarly, the RSS ideology wants to capture power by targeting Muslims under the garb of furthering nationalism.” Further, he said, “Demolition of the Babri Masjid… is the darkest patch in the history of India. The roots of terrorism in India lie in BJP leader LK Advani’s rath yatra.”
He would like us believe that Lashkar-e-Taiyaba, ISI, etc., are not at the root of terror. However, his own party colleagues in the Government are unlikely to agree with him, but that is another story. What is germane to this article is the fact that Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh, and the intellectuals sympathetic to his party, have always tried to smear BJP (and earlier, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh) so that it could be left apart from the mainstream.
A fear psychosis is conjured up about ‘communalism’; and, concomitantly, ‘secularism’ is presented as the shield against all the evils that ‘communal forces’ could spawn. The propaganda is so vicious and misleading that the two words, ‘communal’ and ‘secular’ have been divested of their original meanings. A Briton or an American unfamiliar with the conditions in India may find the connotations of the two words bewildering. Congress leaders and their lackeys in the opinion-making apparatus have not only vitiated politics but also ravaged the English language. In their make-believe world, a big part of the Indian political system, the BJP, is dubbed as forbidden; any association with it is portrayed as vile.
More than the Congress leaders, it is the intellectuals who have played a key role in perpetuating the GOP’s misrule in the country. Careers have been made and fortunes built by lambasting the BJP.
Not that the project has succeeded completely. The first time that the Congress got an electoral setback was in 1967; the SVD governments were formed in states. Interestingly, it was the socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia who chalked out the strategy of anti-Congressism and joined hands with the BJS.
In 1977, another socialist leader, Jayaprakash Narayan, also decided to include the saffron forces into the grand alliance against Indira Gandhi’s Congress and the result was the first non-Congress regime in New Delhi after Independence. It was a diluted form of anti-Congressism in 1989, when the BJP and the Left supported the VP Singh government from outside, that Rajiv Gandhi was ousted from power, despite having secured a historic mandate five years earlier.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government (1998-2004) was also an exercise in anti-Congressism, the first time that a non-Congress government lasted full term. It included socialists like George Fernandes. Many of the constituents of the Vajpayee government are now part of the ruling United Progressive Alliance. In short, association with the saffron party did not cost them politically.
In this context, another point needs to be made. When we associate with somebody in politics or in life, we need not completely agree with them. If Anupam Kher supports Anna Hazare, it does not mean that the film actor will become a Gandhian like Hazare. In a liberal democracy, all of us are entitled to our viewpoints, so long as we don’t impose them on other by force. A natural corollary is that if we lampoon and criticise anybody just because they support the cause of our opponent, we only exhibit out intolerance. Our liberal commentators not only play into the hands of the Congress by joining the slam-BJP project but also show their own illiberal streak when they keep doing it blindly. Often, they end up becoming apologists for the monumentally corrupt and inept regimes like that of Manmohan Singh.
(The author is a senior journalist)