About Me

My Photo

Geek by profession, thinker/writer/artist by passion. Part-time blogger,social media enthusiast and a tramp by nature :) A Man Of Mud


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Can the BJP survive without Hindutva

Posted by: danish Ahmed 3:50 PM

Has the BJP just pressed the self-destruct button by sacking Jaswant Singh for his book on Jinnah? This is the question i woke up to find in Jug Suraiya's op-ed in ToI in the morning (18th Aug 2009). It was a refreshing point of view but later in the day, the number of naysayers increased and by now ( i.e. 1 AM, 20/08/2009 ) those in India's fourth estate, especially social media have written an orbituary for the BJP.

Even i would love to write one but i have a nagging doubt about it. To begin with, the manner in which Jaswant Singh was expelled is highly deplorable and shocking, but the expulsion itself doesn't come across as a surprise. Most likely even Jaswant Singh himself knew the eventuality when he sat down to write the book. Now coming back to the future of BJP, a number of experts have said that BJP is throwing away a life-saver that Jaswant Singh's book could very well be. Blame the Congress for partition and alienation of Indian Muslims, expose its "pseudo-secularism" and BJP would suddenly become far more acceptable to people who have traditionally opposed it.

The fundamental fallacy that i see in this argument is that the BJP has already made a choice and it is going to be difficult if not impossible to change track now. It squandered the first opportunity during Vajpayee's reign by treating Narendra Modi as a hero instead of dumping him after the Gujarat riots. It paid the price by losing the general election but as the saying goes,"those who do not learn from past mistakes are condemned to repeat it" ! In the run up to the last general election it had again a choice to make and it chose hardcore Hindutva ideology. Advani's infamous Jinnah statement might have been an experiment to gauge the effect of any probable dilution of the party's ideology on the core support base. Projecting Narendra Modi as the future Prime Ministerial candidate during last general election was probably the declaration that the party "think tank" believed that a return to aggressive Hindutva was the only way forward.

True enough, can the BJP really regain its position purely on an anti-Congress plank? In the last 60 years no political party or alliance has been able take on the Congress by focusing on the incumbents' follies alone. Let us not forget that the Congress' popularity had reached an all-time low, during the Emergency. Yet the coalition government that included BJP's precursor,the Jan Sangh, did not last 2 years! Vajpayee-led coalition is the only non-Congress government to have completed its tenure but it has been said to have could survived largely because of the turmoil within the Congress as well as the stature of Vajpayee . These factors helped the government survive but the BJP could emerge as the leading party on the basis of its ideology. No non-Congress, non-BJP party could be an effective political force because they lacked an ideology that could appeal to all sections. In fact for a diverse and heterogenous country like India, with all its contradictions in demographic aspirations, primary loyalties, traditions and culture, any ideology bereft of an all encompassing emotive appeal is unlikely to survive in national political arena for a long time.

If at all the BJP could rise to prominence it was mainly due to its ideology. But the ideology being excluvistic, also worked against the party,alienating segments the vote of which was necessary for it to get elected to power. So the experts opine that the BJP should use Jaswant Singh's books and statements to take the battle to the Congress camp,blaming it for the partition, and dilute its hardcore Hindutva plank.Can the BJP survive with a diluted version of its ideology?

I don't think so!
The original architect of the Hindutva as a political ideology was none other than Mahatma Gandhi himself! Hinduism was never an organized religion, in fact it wasn't even a religion but an ammalgamation of various philosophies and traditions of groups living west of the Sindhu river. I would love to discuss the use of the term during Muslim rule but that would be a digression from the topoic, do it should suffice to say that during Muslim rule, the use of the term was mainly for literary purposes. It was the British themselves who, for adminstrative purposes, brought togather all groups adhering to diverse philosophies and traditions of under an umbrella term Hindu. Reformers like Swami Vivekananda and Dayanandi Saraswati started the process of unifying groups into a cohorent religious entity based on Vedas. However, it was Gandhi who took this motley group and turned them into a formidable political force.

Jaswant Singh recent remark that Jinnah as a secularist who was unhappy at Gandhi for bringing religion into politics may be correct but then Jinnah never understood that bind such heterogeneous groups, a spiritual unifying force was neccesary . For him,truth,non-voilence , satyagraha and self-detachment were political instruments that couldn't be used without adherene to spritualism or religious influence.

Gandhi's Hindutva was all inclusive, a unifying spirit of thousands different religious groups , he used the tolerant ancient Hindu ethos to not only bind them , without threatening other religious groups. Nehru went ahead modernizing it without discarding the basic principles nor touching the distinct traditions and dogma.

Unlike the Sangh's Hindutva, Gandhi's ideology was all inclusive, it played a major role in uniting India. The BJP's ideology too can be traced back to pre-independence period when Savarkar first proposed it. In a nutshell, if Gandhi's soft Hindutva was all inclusive, the Sangh's has always worked towards semiticizing Hinduism The conflict between Gandhi's Hindutva with that of the BJP's has been going on since 7 decades.Can the BJP dilute its ideology and still survive?