Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The 2009 general elections were a landmark in the political history of India. United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had come to power with a clear majority. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a humiliating defeat. The verdict was unexpected as there was a stiff competition between Congress and BJP. Both had an equal potential to win. Controversies had tensed both sides. Issues of Inflation and Terrorism were an additional source of tension for Congress. BJP bragged about a strong leader. The votes could swing in any direction. The result was shocking. A general tendency of people is to vote for the other party when dissatisfied by the Current Government. Congress was criticized on grounds of inflation and national security. But even then people showed immense faith in it. What was the problem with the other party? Why had BJP failed to act as an alternative? BJP announced a meeting the day after the verdict was out. The meeting was to inquire into the defeat. L.K. Advani, the leader of the opposition had proposed to resign even though he had won in his constituency. Some blamed it on negative campaigning. L.K. Advani had called Manmohan Singh a ‘weak PM’. When Congress used ‘Jai ho’ as its campaigning song, BJP changed it to ‘Bhay ho’. BJP also tried what it called ‘Soul searching’. BJP’s formative policy is Hindutva. Hindutva stands for ‘one country one religion one language’. It recognises Hindu culture as Indian culture. BJP is often criticized for communalism. The ‘Ram Mandir’ issue is communal in nature. Varun Gandhi’s hate speech was one of the controversies surrounding BJP during the elections. Some BJP leaders blame it for its defeat. They regret lending support to it. The Moderates within the party had suggested giving away the Hindutva ideology as a solution to BJP’s lost status. But Rashtriya Swamasewak Sangh (RSS), BJP’s supporter group which also had a major role in its formation, warned BJP of taking such a step. It blames BJP for failing to propagate the Hindutva ideology. BJP also witnessed internal factionalism. Some perceived L.K. Advani as the next PM while others bragged for Narendra Modi. L.K. Advani failed to match the most popular leader of BJP, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
For a democracy, it is important to have atleast two parties competing. BJP was the only party which could give Congress real competition. But it has also failed. History might repeat itself. The pre-1977 era might come back if BJP does not regain itself. Left without a competition, Congress can also turn into a dictator. BJP will have to reshape itself by shedding its communal side. The policy of Hindutva had been responsible for its success but the same policy can now dissolve it. People have come up with the concept of Hindu talibanisation to define BJP. This policy which is a-historical as well as a-secular cannot survive in India for long. The Ayodhya Dispute does not appeal to the educated. In the light of Cultural Globalisation, BJP had come as a saviour of the Indian culture. But it had narrowly defined it. People consider it a Hindu party. Though Varun Gandhi won in the Pillibhit constituency, he is rejected by the Seculars across the country. BJP has won in states which are socially-backward. In Delhi, BJP did not win a single seat. BJP has been unveiled. The educated have realised how BJP uses religious sentiments for votes. BJP has lost even the ‘Hindu’ votes. BJP’s agenda did not have anything concrete. On economic matters, it did not have a stand. BJP cannot compete with Congress on the grounds of Youth Mobilisation. Rahul Gandhi is perceived as the inspiration for Youth. BJP could not win the support of Youth. Communalism is an out-dated phenomenon. The Youth stands for equality. It stands for humanity. Religion does not count. To become an effective nationalist party, BJP will have to become Bhartiya in true sense. It will have to respect the diversity in India. India is not a Hindu’s Rashtra. BJP will have to become secular to reflect the true nature of India.
*Frontline Magazine, Reading the Verdict, June 19, 2009.
*Times of India Articles