In my last note in Kartavya, I had outlined the BJP’s four-pronged strategy for winning elections: console Hindu majority by taking hard decisions in issues touching Muslims; give sops to the poor without touching economy (‘sab ka saath sab ka vikas’ is an insurance for economic disparity); reassure womenfolk by appearing to improve law and order and serve the rest of the voters doses of powerful, verbose nationalism and patriotism. This is the opium of the BJP.
Quick to pounce on a chance to reassert 1st of the above four points NaMo has gone a step ahead: He has recommended a movie now (probably the first time a PM did so!)- The Kashmir Files- as a fresh dose to the people. He wants more such films which, according to him, tell the TRUTH : as if there are no other ways of telling it than ‘a willing suspension of disbelief’! Suffice it to say that the humiliation and ignominy to befall the Kashmiri Pandits was right under the supervision of the BJP stooge Jagmohan. (A word about this fellow-he had also supervised the demolition of Delhi slums during the infamous 1975-77 Emergency with the blessings of Sanjay Gandhi. He has been a favourite of high-handed rulers). Kashmiri Pandits on their own have denounced the film. But the damage is done- to judge from the hysterical video clips doing the rounds on the social media’. So powerful is NaMo’s recommendation that, reportedly, the BJP MLAs in Maharashtra bunked the assembly discussions to watch the film.
There is a strange paradox here. Without doubt the film is lop-sided; yet Media has the power to highlight the exceptional as the typical-remember ‘Blow Up’, an Antonioni classic of decades ago? If we challenge the authenticity of the film and say NaMo is going too far we can be immediately accused of apathy to the Pandits’ woes. Either way BJP and NaMo emerge as Big Brothers of Hindus. The rational makes way for the sentimental.
Bringing back rationality and decency to the political and socio-cultural discourse in the country is the only way to take on the BJP. We have to initially contain, eventually confront and, in course of time defeat the BJP by evolving a vision of a modern, secular and egalitarian India where there shall be less rich and no poor. Both the BJP and its supporters-sizeable in numbers- are living a schizophrenic life with their mind in the past and body in the present. We have to cure them of this fatal contradiction.
The BJP has been dubbed the largest political party in the world in a recent publication-The Rise of the BJP by Bhupinder Yadav, a NaMo cronie and Ila Patnaik, an economist on the Right(side?). The accolade has more to do with India’s huge population and less with inherent political merit. The dynasty and corruption within the Congress party and the government created a space for the BJP. That space was broadened by the chronic inability of the non-Congress, non-BJP political parties to put up a united challenge under a leader acceptable to them and the people. The strong organizational network of the RSS bolstered the BJP‘s chances and the 2 member BJP in mid-80’s reached the present seemingly unassailable position in the Lok Sabha.
What did the BJP do during its political wilderness – except for the 5 years when Vajpayee steered it successfully with strict adherence to coalition-dharma and keeping the agenda secular (he talked of Ayodhya only when pushed)? Did it come up with any intelligent, original and feasible ideas for the country’s benefit under the New Economic Order emerging through Gliberalisation? None. Did the BJP stalwarts ever talk to the thinkers and leaders in the fields of economy, investment, manufacturing, marketing, science, education, health, habitat, town planning, media, literature, arts and culture? Never! Just browse the Yadav-Patnaik report (no error of omission here!) and you will see that the BJP was not sitting at home but ‘walking and talking’ all the time. Advani, Rajnath and whoever mattered in the party were busy in Yatras and Abhiyans when out of favour/power! Not one of these numerous exercises had something for the future of India. They served the old wine in new bottles with attractive packaging. Revive the collective memory of Hindu cultural icons; pour venom on Congress and the Dynasty; ridicule the Left parties as culturally alien and dub regional initiatives as narrow and hence unsuitable to the (truly) great country!
Looking at the smug smiles of NaMo et al this is going to continue. Yadav-Patnaik assure, in the last paragraph of their jugad, that the BJP suffers no more from intellectual phobia; but it seems more pre-emptive than real! True, Amit Shah- the most unintellectual face in the BJP; he is ahead of NaMo in this- had launched a ‘Samwad-Sampark Abhiyan’ in the pre-Corona days-remember the music legend Lata Mangeshkar had excused herself from facing him? Probably she fell (politically) ill for once!
This ideological vacuum is deep rooted. The RSS-to be 100 years old in 1925- is probably unique in that it was established, grew, suppressed, thrived and spread all over the country without an ideology. RSS recently coined the term Samajik Samarasata (social harmony). Before that it was ‘Hindustan for the Hindus’. This was the baby-food both Jan Sangh and BJP grew upon. Deenadayal Upadhyaya-to blunt the Leftist emphasis on revolution to uplift the ‘have nots’- brought in a couple of new terms-Antyodaya and Ekatma Manavatawad’ but unfortunately he passed away without translating those into a programme-Abhiyan, to use BJP’s pet word. Vajpayee talked only of Sahmati-consensus, which is an attitude and not an ideology and Adwani dug his grave by calling Jinnah secular-remember the stampede within RSS-BJP intelligentsia (such as it is!) before they found a scape-goat, Sudheendra Kulkarni and restore some of Adwani (BJP’s Loh Purush)’s lost prestige?
After that 'Congress Mukta Bharat' has been the one point agenda. The BJP-RSS with their proverbial cunning appropriated the ‘Bhrashtachar Mukta Bharat’ agenda of the AAP and Anna Hazare (an upstart if there ever was one!) and defined corruption-free India as Congress-free India. It has worked wonders for them-not for the country regrettably- so far.
Enough is enough! The country, despite political stability at the centre, is reeling under poverty, unemployment, disparity, underdevelopment, intolerance, insecurity, poor health and pitiable education. The population that needs to be freed of these curses is huge and soon shall touch a hundred crore! Mere successful vote-arithmetic is illusory. We need to give the lie to the four-pronged propaganda weapon of the BJP.
Firstly, we must tell all our countrymen that Muslims are not a minority (dictionaries of political terms define minority as around 1 per cent of the population). Their number is large and ethnically both communities are the same. It is therefore unwise to divide two big chunks of people and create mutual suspicion between them. No civilized society can progress in such an anti-civilisation atmosphere.
Secondly, we must tell the poor that state help is a temporary solution to poverty and might paralyze them in the long run. The state wants them to be poor-no matter who is in power-so that their votes are guaranteed. The political establishment of the country is eyeing at the poor as the new vote banks. The poor should look for education, skill development, self-employment and empowerment. They should vote for parties which will have economic policy in tune with bringing pride and not just short-lived relief to the poor.
Thirdly, Indian women-particularly those in the ‘ BiMaRU’ states- should be enlightened to the fact that ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ is only the beginning of their empowerment and not the end. The real challenge is ensuring for women dignity and prestige in all walks of life- in both rural and urban areas. The BJP-RSS are more likely to keep mum on this as they are highly patriarchal! They might want Indian women, even after empowerment, to be modern-day Seeta-Savitris and give in to male domination for survival of the society (sic family)’! Indian women should ensure that they are not put into a gilded cage in the new millennium.
हेही वाचा : काश्मीरच्या अर्धवट फाईल्स - कलीम अजीम
Fourthly and lastly, we must awaken our educated brothers and sisters that there are better orators, writers, thinkers, artists in the country and we need to listen to them. It is really a collective shame that our politicians cross all limits of decency and the educated classes lap up their muck- any recent speech by a politician will suffice as an example. It is equally futile to pick up moments of pride or shame in our (too) long history and attribute credit or blame! Let us live in the present and look at a better future.
It is incumbent upon those who can think to encourage discourse, debates, discussions, even arguments and controversies to generate fresh ideas. That alone will ensure feasible and lasting solutions to the problems facing 2/3rd of our people. We have done well for ourselves; let us now look at our countrymen who have missed the bus.
Any takers? Or am I talking to an empty room ?
- Vinay Hardikar
(The writer has been working in the public sphere of Maharashtra for the last five decades. His versatile personality has several dimensions, but the primary ones remain to be that of an established writer, journalist, editor, critic, activist, and teacher.)