By: MR Lalu
The Indian National Congress has always been a momentous political force in India. Except for some occasional convulsions against the party and its rule by leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan, the Congress predominantly remained a powerful platform that could successfully withstand successive storms and sail the country through political whirlwinds. Its growth as a dominant political entity in India remained relevant until a political wind began to blow against it from the Sangh Parivar courtyard. The BJS (Bharatiya Jan Sangh), as that was the political outfit sprung from the stem of the Parivar known as, was chiefly to propagate a new political ideology based on nationalistic principles and traditions. It consistently flapped its wings to fly beyond the terrain of power occupied by the Congress but failed to do anything significant until its new avatar, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) came into being. India’s political spectrum turned topsy-turvy almost permanently for the Congress soon after the advent of a chaiwala from Gujarat. Its hope to come back as it did in the previous periods did not fructify, and Modi in his full-fledged second term seems to have tightened his grip further and the Congress has almost become a boat without a rudder.
With more than 2700 registered and recognized political parties, India should be enlisted as the first among the countries with a complex political environment. The BJS came into existence on 21st October 1951 to change the political narrative in India. The idea that the BJS put forth was to probably give India political leadership based on the values of Bharatiya Sanskriti. This was the reason the BJS (later the BJP) did not enjoy public support at the beginning with a sizable population of the country keeping them under the carpet with a strange denial and suspicion. Though the RSS was active, its political clone the BJS failed to make inroads in its journey but its transmuted version the BJP could later bring about the ideological transformation the founders of the BJS dreamt about. The journey of BJS to the BJP reveals the inexorable efforts that it carried out over the last 70 years. Why could such an ideology spring and flourish in a secular political setting in India? The answer probably indicates a decision that culminated in chiselling a large landscape into two fragments; one – a secular democratic country and the other – the Islamic Republic on religious lines. A silent discontent among the majority remained rock-solid and sedimented while the Nehruvian model of administration and its successive governments represented an alienated version of democracy that kept a large chunk of India’s populace under a surreptitious denial.
Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee an agitator and nationalist had to resign from the Nehru cabinet for the ideological differences he sensed at the beginning itself. With the second RSS chief rendering enough functional backing, Mookerjee was quick to begin the new political outfit the BJS. From Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s mild and inclusive Hindutva to the aggressive version of Hindutva propelled by Narendra Modi, the BJP’s journey to power was phenomenal. A genuine ineptness that the Congress and other national parties have swooped in could reveal the quantum of damage that the Modi upsurge was capable of causing. The present dispensation under him is blamed to be authoritarian and the queue that the opposition parties are slowly inching against Modi with their ideological contradictions is probably leading them to an ultimate political irrelevance. A growing disenchantment with Nehruvian politics and the minority appeasement carried out by the Congress could help the saffron ideology to flourish and the Ayodhya movement was a milestone, a detonation point for the BJP. Not to forget, an umbilical connection between the RSS and its political avatars remained consistently visible since 1951. Deen Dayal Upadhyay an RSS veteran codified the ideology which the BJS and BJP continued to embrace through their political operation. ‘Integral Humanism’ propounded by him became the Bhagavad Gita of the saffron legion in 1960.
From thirteen days to thirteen months to a full term in the government, the BJP under Vajpayee tasted the compulsions of coalition politics and its possibilities as well. On April 17th 1999, the veteran leader in Vajpayee became emotional in the parliament as his side of the ruling coalition lost the required margin by one vote in the parliament as AIADMK decided to unfasten the knot. But the organizational growth of the BJP was rapid and the Congress and many other parties in the opposition failed to learn from the means and methods that the BJP adopted for its exceptional expansion. Now the party under the leadership of Modi can be negligent of any coalition dharma as it enjoys a clear mandate to rule. The main question is should the expansion of the BJP be seen as an outcome of the charisma of Prime Minister Modi alone? Probably various factors contributed to the celebrated expansion of the party. The cadre system that the BJP could establish in line with its base organization the Sangh was perfect and the discipline it could infuse among its workers was worth studying. Secondly, most of the renowned parties in India are family enterprises and their history is full of the rampant corruption of dynasties. BJP for that matter was a new entrant into a modern political scene with its grass root workers rising to hold prominent positions in the party. This garnered a great amount of respect and attraction and the Modi factor of good governance was an added feature that the party strengthened. The large organizational base of the Sangh Parivar has always been an accelerating force helping the BJP’s prospects mount manifold.
The Bharatiya Janata Party could successfully mobilize its resources for winning elections and expanding its electoral base. It is not only Hindutva that the party was trying to fit in but also responding to the incompetence of the opposition with severe arrogance and institutional involvement. With the investigative agencies behind the opposition parties, the BJP is all set to further damage their prospects and busy framing narratives on its consistent efforts to fight corruption. A divided opposition, more divided than ever before, is crumbling further with many of its heavyweights facing the wrath of investigation against corruption. Towards the last leg of its second term, the Modi government is seen to be marching unhurt as no corruption charges could be established against it. The Gandhi family’s desperate gimmick to gain relevance in Congress was the Black Friday drama the country witnessed in the national capital recently. It is a now-or-never battle for the party and its family enterprise. Except for the South Indian states, the BJP is a significant force everywhere in the country. The strategies that the party devises frequently put the opposition in a hazardous situation. Elections for the post of President and Vice-President proved the diplomatic stretch that the BJP was capable of and the results were throwing light on the confusion engulfing a scattered opposition. From the three seats, it won in its first Lok Sabha elections to the mammoth number of seats it won in the last general elections – from BJS to BJP, the saffron ideology has passed various tests and tribulations. When its leaders decided to scrap the BJS in 1980, they would not have thought that the new version of their party, the BJP would politically capture India. The moot point of the moment is; does this saffron surge hold the key to the future? (The author is a freelance journalist/social worker & can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)