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Political Hindutva : The Countdown Has Begun?

By Subhash Gatade

15 June, 2007

(...A report prepared by one of the national secretaries of the BJP Mr Prabhat Jha analysing the election results to UP, ( Bhaskar, 12 June 2007) provide enough proof of the pathetic situation in which the party itself finds today. This report would be presented before the national executive meeting of the BJP to be held in last week of June and much fireworks are expected there...)

Media personnel bearing sympathy with the Hindutva cause - who are in decisive positions at various levels - have an uncanny ability of deflecting the attention of the public from the pathetic situation in which the Sangh Parivar finds itself today - morally as well as organisationally.

May it be the Parivar's sermonising on Character building going tatters a la the Babubhai Kataras or the Bangaru Laxmans or the Dileep Judeos, or the Party with a difference tag becoming a joke of the decade or the 'disciplined' infighting at various levels becoming a public spectacle, these pen/bytepushers make feverish attempts to maintain the aura intact.

Of course there are moments when it is next to impossible for them to push the real issues under the carpet or present a rosy picture of the disorientation in which the parent formation and its affiliated organisation find themselves today. Interestingly recent results to byelections in different states or assembly elections to UP and Goa have helped brought the issue to the fore. And the world at large is finding that the countdown has finally begun for Political Hindutva - the ideology of hatred and exclusion formulated by the Savarkars and Golwalkars.

A report prepared by one of the national secretaries of the BJP Mr Prabhat Jha analysing the election results to UP, ( Bhaskar, 12 June 2007) provides enough proof of the pathetic situation in which the party itself finds today. This report would be presented before the national executive meeting of the BJP to be held in last week of June and much fireworks are expected there.

The 56 page report, whose copies have been sent to the senior leaders of the party, at its own level, tries to undermine the gravity of the situation. It tells us that the party lost elections to 17 seats merely by a margin of 2,000 plus votes. But figures presented in the report themselves reveal that it received five percent or less votes in 40 seats. There have been six seats where it got less than 2 per cent votes.Out of 89 reserved constituencies, its candidates won merely on 7 seats. But the parties most pathetic performance has been visible on 81 seats where it stood fourth or fifth. Of course on four seats it went down to sixth or seventh number. If one compares its present performance to the last elections held in 2002 where its candidates were either in the number one or number two positions in 297 segments, when it had gained only 88 seats, its downward march becomes more blatant.

Interestingly an important point which did not receive the attention it deserved as far as the UP debacle was concerned pertained to the role of Modi, the man in waiting for the top post in BJP.It is worth noting that Narendra Modi addressed 17 meetings in UP, and most of the elections were lost by BJP. Also these elections were held under the direct supervision of the RSS as the parent organisation had felt that political formation at times takes a sloppy attitude towards Hindutva - the raison detre of the Parivar. Many of the RSS Pracharaks were sent to the state to streamline the party at district level also. The intervention of the RSS in the whole campaign was evident also from the way in which a incalcitrant looking Yogi Adityanath was tamed in or how the fiery Sanyasin Uma Bharati was asked to withdraw her candidates from the fray supposedly to 'save Hindu Unity'. It is clear that all the feverish efforts could not fetch any extra seats and the BJP had to remain satisfied with half the number of seats only which it held earlier. ( 93 to 50).

Of course the lack of transparency with which the Sangh Parivar functions also became clear once the results were out. Despite the fact that Sangh had supervised the elections and helped BJP to finetune its strategy for polarising the voters on communal lines, the RSS mouthpiece did not lose a minute in blaming the state BJP itself for its poor performance for not being 'Hindutva' enough during the campaigning. It also added a 'pearl of wisdom' to its analysis by claiming that Mayawati's victory is essentially a victory of their ideology only. One was reminded of the famous Aesop's fables which tells us of a dog walking under the bullockcart and thinking that it is he who is carrying the load.

Of course analysis of the UP debacle would not be the only worrying thing which the BJP leadership would be addressing in its national executive meeting. UP fiasco- where all the top bosses of the BJP and their near and dear ones had to bite the dust and the home district of the party president Rajnath Singh could not even return a single BJP candidate to the assembly - has been followed by defeat in Goa where despite strong anti-incumbency trends much in the air, the BJP faced second consecutive defeat.

It was for everyone to see that the Hindutva brigade had pulled all stops there to come to power. As it is clear from the results BJP will have to continue to seat in the opposition with reduced number of seats (14) than its earlier tally which it had won in the last elections(17). The desperation with which BJP had tried to wrest power from the ruling coalition can be gauged from the fact that it had stayed out of 7 constituencies to allow rebels of the Congress to have a free run against the Congress. Apart from forging alliance with all sorts of dubious people, it had also tried to act smart by trying to sell the ‘clean image’ of the ex Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. But the most disturbing acts which the Hindutva brigade organizations had engaged in pertained to their attempts to polarize Goan society on communal lines.

It was in the first week of April that news of vandalisation of two temples in an area which are five kilometers away from each other and the planned mobilization of people people belonging to particular community who came out on streets immediately to protest the incident had sent shivers down the spine of the police. The alleged desecration of temples at Cuchorem-Cacora near Panaji and the police suspecting role of miscreants out to create communal tension had even rekindled memories of the March 2006 communal riots in Savordem and Curchorem. It is now history how rightwing organisations especially the BJP had incited trouble in the area then after demolishing a structure which housed a mosque and a madarsa. Fact finding reports on the violence had even specifically named a BJP leader and a candidate for the Assembly elections for instigating the violence. (Ref :’ Goa :Communal Tinderbox Waiting to Explode’ ( 10 april 2007)
But not content with this planned vandalisation of temples the mischievous elements belonging to the Hindutva brigade had tried to foment communal tension in Marmgoa after the alleged harassment of a hindu girl by two youth belonging to minority community. (May 2007)They had tried to terrorise the minority community in and around Marmgoa continuously for two consecutive days and the local administration had turned a blind eye towards their activities.

Apart from the drubbing it received in UP as well as Goa the BJP has come a cropper in two hotly contested byelections which were held in states where it is part of the ruling arrangement namely Karnataka and M.P. As has been rightly noted by analysts the defeat of the BJP candidate in Ullal (Dakshin Kannada) by a comfortable margin of 8,000 votes, in the recently held byelections to the Karnataka assembly has definitely added to the worries of the coalition which is ruling the state since more than one year. Coming after the defeat faced by the coalition in the Chamundeshwari byelection, this second consecutive defeat has definitely impacted the morale of the coalition partners namely BJP and Janata Das(S).

While the Janata Das (S) has tried to save its face by saying that a sympathy factor helped Mr Khader of the Congress win the elections, the state leadership of the BJP has tried to wriggle itself of the situation by saying that the Congress tried to create fear about the BJP in the minds of Muslims ( who incidentally comprise 52 percent of the population).

It is a different matter that the BJP wanted to conveniently forget the manner in which it tried to foment communal trouble with due help from the local administration and a partisan state ministry. All its attempts to terrorise the minorities by giving free reign to the affiliated organizations of the Sangh Parivar had received condemnation from different quarters of the media. Commenting on the byelection result an editorial in the Deccan Herald ( June 6, 2007) under the heading ‘Vote for Secularism’ rightly underlined:
“Ullal byelections held in the backdrop of communal riots which rocked the district for nearly 2 months recently. The local BJP leaders, including a minister, allegedly had a hand in fuelling the trouble. The people of both communities especially minorities suffered a great deal but police remained passive spectators.Mr. Kumarswamy did not even show the courtesy of visiting the riot hit areas and home minister M.P. Prakash showed reluctance to act against police officials who has failed to function properly”

While experiments in hardline hindutva seems to have come to a naught in this keenly fought elections in the Southern State, the way the BJP lost its bastion Shivpuri (M.P.) in the recent byelections to assembly must have set alarmbells further ringing in the party. This despite the fact that the Hindutva brigade is moving in this state in a planned manner to consolidate its base and further marginalise the minorities. It need be told that there have been more than 117 communal flareups since BJP came to power in the state. Many districts witnessed riot or riot like situation for the first time in post-independence history. And the modus operandi is similar : free play to the lumpens of the Hindutva brigade and a saffronised administration turning a blind eye towards all such acts.

UP, Goa, Karnataka and M.P. - states where the political environment and ethos cannot be said to be similar - all are underlining a single feature vis-a-vis the future prospects of the BJP are concerned. With progress of time India of the 21 st century would have less and less space for formation(s) based on exclusiveness and hatred. All such formations would be faced with the same predicament : shrinking base and a disoriented cadre which would engage in sporadic looking violence from time to time to keep its flock in check.

Vijay Singhvi ( The Tribune, 13 June 2007) in his OP-ED piece BJP's Shrinking Base observes :

'Young minds in India have changed their aspirations, ambitions, their idioms and their way of thinking about life and the future. The modern mind is not taken in by the BJP’s now already stale mantra of minorityism, pseudo-secularism and the national security state. The global economic movement has demolished the state boundaries into an unrecognisable shambles, that has in turn affected the definitions and understanding of patriotic fervours on which the Sangh Parivar has built its entire edifice of the Hindu Rashtra.'

Anyone remotedly familiar with RSS brand of politics and is familiar with the changes in the national-international situation can understand that the 'Jurassic Park' mentality of ushering into a Hindu Rashtra envisaged by the Hedgewars-Savarkars-Golwalkars does not have any future in today's India. It is bound to fail. Ofcourse that does not mean that their journey into oblivion would not be accompanied by untold sufferings of the masses and Gujarat like 'successfuls experiments' littered with blood.

With onset of time it would become further difficult for the BJP to gain new social support group to its side while the traditional support base gets further dwindled. As it is clear it took four decades for the Congress to suffer shrinkage of its vote base. The BJP which claims for itself a different Chaal, Chehera and Chintan ( could be roughly translated as 'movement, face and thinking') achieved it in less than a decade.

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