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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Elections 2004 portents for future
By Ram Puniyani

The state assembly elections (2003) in MP Rajasthan and Chattisgarh have been followed by an unprecendented confidence in the BJP camp. It immediately led to the BJP calling for a Loksabha elections. One is also witness to the state sponsored Shining India campaign. Simultaneously all the central ministries and even the planning commission are coming out with the advertisement blitzkrieg showing the achievements of BJP led NDA coalition. BJP has started projecting that its win in the forthcoming Loksabha elections is a foregone conclusion. The recent survey conducted by India Today has predicted a comfortable win for the BJP and its allies.

This electoral child of RSS has come far from its Gandhian Socialism days. After the dual membership issue rocked the boat of Janata Government in late seventies the ex Jan sangh component refused to leave their RSS loyalty and broke the party to form Bharatiya Janata Party. That was the time when Gandhi's image and the respectability of Socialism were high and that's how this Hindutva party picked up this plank. Unfortunately for BJP, its parent RSS decided to back the Congress in the 1984 elections, mainly because Congress was suppressing the Khalistani movement with iron hand. In due course BJP's associates started intensifying its Yatras and religion based mobilization of upper castes, the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram entered the Adivasi belt to Hinduise the Adivasis. These outfits discovered the magic of Ram. Ram temple issue came in handy to promote the mass hysteria for Hindutva. After Mandal commission implementation, the BJP intensified its ongoing Ram temple movement leading to Babri demolition, and the post demolition anti-Muslim pogrom, and the consequent polarization of society leading to the increase in the electoral strengthening of BJP.

The fractured mandate of next few elections did lead to ultimately BJP crossing the Rubicon and coming to power on its own first for 13 days, than in alliance for 13 months and than leading to the formation of National Democratic Alliance which came to power in 1999. NDA agenda avoided the core Hindutva issues, Ram Temple, articlec370, Uniform civil code etc. Having come to power BJP ensured various steps to strengthen Hindutva's deeper hold. Its major actions included, explosion of nuclear device, communalization of education, naked subservience to US in foreign policy, the outright sale of public sectors, and economic policies aimed to please middle class. While these were bad in themselves some other issues which came up, were promoted and took place under the patronage of this government give a real inkling of shape of things to come. 

It appointed a commission to review the constitution. Though it kept saying that the basic structure of Constitution will not be disturbed, its patriarch RSS chief K. Sudarshan did go on record to say that the present Indian Constitution is based on western values and needs to be replaced by the one based on the Hindu(! Indian, Holy Dharma Granths, Holy Hindu books, by inference Manu Smiriti, as that is the book giving the laws of society). The dalits opposed this move tooth and nail for two basic reasons. One an emotional one, that it is document whose drafting was done under the chairmanship of Dr. Bhimrao Babsaheb Ambedkar. And two, that it is the document which gives the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (i.e. community). Large sections of intelligentsia and other political streams also came up to oppose the move of the Government. Any how, the commission to review was formed, the report completed and nothing much came out as the commission was aware of the total opposition to the RSS designs by the large sections of population. The matter has been deferred so to say by the RSS/BJP for the time being. The sword of Damocles is hanging on the democratic values. BJP was able to undertake the first step towards the long term agenda of Sangh Parivar, the goal of Hindu Rashtra. And surely if BJP returns to power with majority this may be the first move on the cards.

Gujarat carnage was amongst the worst shames to the Nation. It could assume such horrendous proportions mainly because of the fact that RSS pracharak Narendra Modi, who was supervising the pogrom was aware that the line of control over him will totally back him up and there is no check on his designs to achieve the social polarization in the society. Above Narendra Modi, were all the RSS swayamsevaks and pracharks-Gujarat Governor Sundersing Bhandari, Union home minister Lal Krishna Advani and the Prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself. This carnage totally polarized the society and the declining electoral forunes of BJP were reversed due to the massive violence which was presented to be a defensive act against the international terrorirism, Pakistan's ISI and by implication, the Indian Muslims. Prior to the carnage BJP was losing elections all over in the assembly elections of UP and four other states, in the Gujarat elections. Post Godhra Gujarat the story seems to be different and now the electoral fortunes swung in its favor. BJP could achieve a victory of sorts through this violence. Also this firmly established Gujarat as a Laboratory of Hindu Rashtra, with the human Rights of minorities being put on the hold for good. 

Gujarat violence and later elections in Gujarat and four assemblies-MP, Chattisgarh, and Rajasthan brought to fore another phenomenon, the phenomenon of social engineering amongst Adivasi and dalits. It became known that under the quiet patronage of the BJP govt. many a NGOs have been floated by RSS affiliates which are working in various villages and remote places. With the help of these and the funding from NRIs VHP and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams have recruited a huge army of paid volunteers which is engaged in spreading hate, working for polarization in the society. Some of these processes may be irreversible as well.

If BJP could achieve so much for Sangh Parivar due to its being in power in the Center, if it returns to power the same phenomenon will get an immense boost all over the country. The new areas which are coming under the influence of RSS in a substantial way are Karalla (Marad incidence) Karanatka (Baba Budan Giri) and Orissa, to name the few. 

Over a period of last few years BJP has succeeded in selling its image of a democratic party while tied to the apron strings of RSS the progenitor of the goal of Hindu Rashtra. It is of its clever deceit that the other so called socialist and democratic parties have entered a coalition with this party which clearly has no faith in democracy and secularism. It is capable of talking in different languages to suit the purpose and depending on its electoral strength. Its ploy is to use the plank of development if it is strong enough and to revert to Hindutva agenda when not strong enough to feel that development mantra can get it enough votes. It can also combine the two with simple maneuvers. People tend to believe that its mascot Vajpayee is a genuine democrat and people likeTogadia are fringe elements of this outfit. As a matter of fact Vajpayee and Togdia have drunk the same ideological milk in the shakhas where they were trained to be swayamsevaks. It is a clever division of labor as far as RSS is concerned. Vajpayee and Togadia are mere two faces of the spectrum. Interestingly with India Shining Togadia has been sent on a sabbatical. But he is very much on the rolls of the Hindutva to be unleashed as and when needed. A victory for BJP, with or without allies will push the country more towards the goal desired by RSS. The creeping fascism in the society can be transformed into an aggressive Moditva as and when planned.

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