Monday, Apr 08, 2002
Front Page |
Southern States |
Other States |
Advts: Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |
Leader Page Articles
By K. K. Katyal
THE HINDUTVA agenda has disrupted society, damaged the polity, destabilised the Government in which its advocates are partners and, ironically enough, threatens to divide their own organisation. Reflecting the last development are the pressures currently generated within the BJP. How the party leaders sort out the problem is their concern but the people have reason to worry about the fallout for the country.
The Hindutva doctrine, in a way, was instrumental in the failure of the first non-Congress Government at the Centre which assumed office in 1977. What seemed like a highly promising dispensation, with a fund of goodwill, collapsed in around two years because of contradictions, one of which arose out of a Hindutva-related issue. And now it is responsible for squabbles not only between the BJP and its allies, but also within the former. Undoubtedly, the NDA has been seriously hurt. And if questions have begun to be raised about the Government's stability, the reasons can be traced to the Hindutva issue.
In 1978-79, the Janata Party Government was badly shaken by the controversy over "dual membership". Madhu Limaye opposed members of the erstwhile Jan Sangh retaining their association with the RSS, even as they enjoyed the privileges of the new ruling setup. He spearheaded the campaign for the removal of that duality. It was the fusion of four non-Congress groups which brought into being the Janata Party but while others completely dissolved themselves, the former Jan Sanghis retained their links with the RSS. This was not a technical quibbling over membership but a case of dual loyalty and a clash of ideologies. The Jan Sanghis were not prepared to snap the RSS connection. This led to the undoing of the first non-Congress ruling combine.
The internal links of the Janata Party thus weakened, it needed a mere hint of an external strike for it to collapse. In July 1979, Y. B. Chavan, then Leader of the Opposition, introduced a resolution in the Lok Sabha expressing lack of confidence in the Government headed by Morarji Desai. Though the move was not taken seriously even by many in the Opposition, it soon developed momentum, leading Desai to submit his resignation. What happened then was narrated by the President of the day, N. Sanjiva Reddy, later in his book, "Without Fear or Favour", thus: "Sitting in my study in Rashtrapati Bhavan, I listened to his (Chavan's) speech. It did not strike me as anything but perfunctory. With its absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, the Janata Party should have had no difficulty in voting down the resolution. The disruptive forces in the party, however, became active and group after group of members defected from the party in response to the lead given by Raj Narain (a former Socialist who came into the limelight after he defeated Indira Gandhi in the 1977 Lok Sabha election, and a member of the Desai Cabinet)." Then followed the most amazing part of Reddy's narration: "It is interesting to record that a Cabinet Minister, George Fernandes, who had intervened in the debate on the no-confidence motion, made a long speech in support of the Government and claimed credit for its achievements on July 12, resigned from the Government just two days later, that is July 14."
The context is now different, the political players are different. The form and shape of the ruling alliance is not the same. With all these variables there may still be one or two constants the Hindutva factor and the culture of the allies which could come into full play at the mere sign of a crisis. Among the notable elements of the present case is the BJP's "concession" to the partners of the alliance its offer to put on the backburner three issues which were anathema to the non-BJP parties. These were Hindutva, the demand for a common civil code and abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which provides for special status to Jammu and Kashmir. This was easier said than done. On paper, it was fine, in practice it was not easy to implement.
Formally, the BJP swore by the don'ts, as was evident from the comparative study of the party's manifesto and the election rhetoric in 1997 and 1998-99. In the first case, the BJP's election manifesto spelt out its commitments in clear terms. Hindutva was commended as a "unifying principle which alone can preserve the unity and integrity of our nation". There was the pointed stress on the commitment to the "construction of a magnificent Ram Mandir at Janmasthan in Ayodhya which will be a tribute to Bharat Mata".
In 1999, the manifesto was issued on behalf of the National Democratic Alliance. Absent were the references to Hindutva, Ram temple, Article 370 and a common civil code. This was coupled with the emphatic statement: "Let us have a moratorium on contentious issues." The NDA, it said, "will reach out to minorities. No one will be cast aside, fairness and justice will be rendered to one and all and we assure you that there will not be any discrimination." The alliance was described as the political arm of none other than the Indian people as a whole. (Remember all this Narendra Modi. Is not Gujarat, where you are at the helm, a part of India and are not those promises and commitments also meant to be applicable to the State?)
The NDA, according to the manifesto, came into being "because of a historic need"... "With a consensus on a common cause and a common set of principles we have sunk our differences to weld ourselves into a solid phalanx of a single dominant political formation."
These commitments, we were told, were not a case of expediency but a matter of principle, a response to the "historic need". A good number among us did not believe but chose to reserve judgment. The Narendra Modis have confirmed the worst fears. You need not be a detractor of the NDA to say so, even some of the allies and supporters feel let down by the BJP. They are angry and have said so publicly that the BJP is pursuing its old agenda, not the NDA commitments and policies. Their disenchantment came into the open recently when they made known their displeasure over the Government's tilt towards the BJP position on the Ram temple issue as evidenced by its support to the idea of "symbolic puja" on the land covered by a court case, as also by the stand taken by the Attorney-General in the Supreme Court.
Obviously, the allies adopted the tough line with an eye on the Muslim constituency they were keen on being seen as distancing themselves from the BJP on a highly sensitive issue.
But having done that, they reaffirmed their faith in the alliance, and this was generally interpreted as a case of a joint vested interest of staying in power. At some stage, as the next Lok Sabha election draws closer, its allies may tend to examine the pros and cons of continued association with the BJP, which may be regarded as a political liability.
The pressures by the allies within the NDA cannot but have repercussions in the BJP. Two voices are heard in the party one favouring continued adherence to the NDA commitments, the other favouring a return to Hindutva. The two strands, though always there, are getting sharper and with that the divisive potential of Hindutva and related items is getting pronounced.
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2002, The
Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of