BJP’s soft Hindutva mask

BJP's national council meet in Indore was aimed to put a soft face of the BJP to the common people. BJP is for the moment pretending to acquire an alternate position in the political framework of the country by imitating Rahul Gandhi to woo Dalits and also pitching low on the construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya which is a slant deviation from its earlier stand to build the temple, come what may. Now the big question: Is Nitin Gadkari playing down the fire of hardline Hindutva from within or he is simply putting a reformist mask over his RSS mould?

The body language of Gadkari while making statement on the Ayodhya issue seemed as an appeal to the Muslim community to be generous towards the sentiments and feelings of Hindus and facilitate the construction of the grand Ram temple. It also looked as if he is only trying to make a footnote  on the age old controversy. The catchphrases from his 24 page inaugural speech were "antyodaya" (welfare of the poorest), "samajik samrasta" (social equality) and "vikas" (development) with social justice. If Gadkari is sincere in his determination towards welfare of the poorest, social equlity and development that too along with social justice was it at all important to touch upon the controversial and emotive issue. In his nearly all interviews with media he has been hitting hard against the Congress which has done precious little for Muslims in the past sixty years. Gadkari even before giving anything to the minorities has himself asked from them to handover piece of land in Ayodhya to construct Ram temple.

After getting firm hold of the party, Gadkari hit hard at those in the BJP responsible for infighting, groupism and all leaders nibbling at each other's turf. In his speech he has said "The problem in the party is not grassroot workers but those who had benefited much. Talking tough he said that they will have to think whether their political career is important or party ideology."

The outgoing president Rajnath Singh candidly and sarcastically said that any political party that deviated from its core ideology had to face the consequences and if the BJP does so it is also likely to face the consequences in the near future. It appears that Nitin Gadkari is slowly and steadily trying to wrap up the BJP in the envelope of the RSS. As for the first time Gadkari has asked the party to involve the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in a party function that the BJP plans to organise at Pathankot.

L K Advani in his speech indicated that his generation is handing over charge not to second generation but possibly with third or fourth generation. And as a result the second generation leaders are nervous and worried. Gadkari's new team is likely to take shape soon. It’s task would be to prepare the ground for the Lok Sabha polls of 2014. His core team and the group that dominates will determine the modus operandi of Gadkari's future political course, to what extent it would kowtow the guidelines of the RSS.

In order to firmly establish the hardline ideology of the RSS in the BJP caders mindset even the training camp and programme of the BJP is being drawn up. The BJP is considering starting a three year programme for its cadre on the line of the RSS. The purpose is to nourish the skill and to utilise them in the 2014 general elections. Sahasrabuddhe, political advisor of Gadkari, said "The training will aim at creating ideological clarity and understanding, providing information on policy matters and social issues, introduction to policies of other political and practical aspects like public speaking, publicity and honing of other skills" The BJP leaders will be trained by professional and management experts drawn from different fields of expertise. Some RSS leaders are also likely to participate as trainers.

In order to assess the work culture the new party chief wants to introduce performance audit, where a system would be followed to reward leaders for their good work. All MPs MLAs and leaders at all levels and their role will be scrutinised from time to time and would be estimated. Accordingly. Gadkari is trying to take some corrective measures for the party which he believes is essential at this point of time. But given the leadership structure of the BJP it may not be a cakewalk for him as he is surrounded by leaders who have felt let down after having sidelined in the run up to the selection of party president and these leaders may catch all opportunities to derail his reform measures. For the moment it appears that LK Advani loyalists are surpassing the directive of  Gadkari and finding on the defensive mode to keep a balance between the two houses of the BJP, one led by Advani and the other by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Advani loyalists are trying hard to send leaders in the states to have their say even if Gadkari formally appoints prabharis (minders) when he formally announces his team.

BJP also attempted for an image makeover by taking sides with Sharukh Khan over recent spat on his IPL remarks with the Shiv Sena over his film 'My Name is Khan' to woo Muslims. But, for the BJP, will this kind of support last for only three hour show or will it be extended futher is the big question. By simply taking side may not prove that the BJP is working honestly for the minorities. Working honestly requires determined steps on the grounds. Simply airing views may not be enough to attract minorities.

The magnitude of the problem in the BJP can be measured from Gadkari's concluding speech wherein he reffered to a story of a sparrow trying to fight a fire with a few drops of water in its beak. Gadkari said: "the sparrow may not be able to put out the fire, but at least it will be counted among those that tried to douse it" Is Gadkari nervous or counting upon his initiave for correcting measures that are yet to be seen? 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2010 on page no. 13

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