Party politics



The RSS has come out of the closet to lay down a fairly clear road map for the BJP in the near future with open declaration of its preferences for leadership and a time table for effecting organisational changes. Though the BJP is connected by the umbilical cord to the RSS, the top Nagpur leadership has often tried to keep a distance of convenience from the party claiming that it is a cultural organisation. But the recent announcements of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and senior leader Ram Madhav have left no doubt about not only the linkage but also about the extent of its control on the party. Ram Madhav has said that L K Advani should retire in February next year after a new president takes over from Rajnath Singh in December. Mohan Bhagwat made it also clear that the new president will not be from Delhi, thus ruling out the chances of present second rung leaders like Sushma Swaraj or Arun Jaitely who are considered to be aspirants.

In a party-based democracy it is difficult to imagine that the decisions of a political party are taken outside its organisational set-up. The BJP had, under Atal Behari Vajpayee and debatably under L K Advani, had tried to come out of the tutelage of the RSS and experimented with mass politics. It had expanded its support base from the hard core Hindutva constituency, won friends and allies from a broad political spectrum and formed a winning coalition which took it to power. But successive election defeats have debilitated the party and left the leadership confused and wrangling. There were even calls to call in the RSS for control and that is what has finally happened.

A party president picked and chosen by the RSS will be beholden to it and will be dictated to by Nagpur. The fact that it is looking for a leader with no great visibility strengthens that idea. The BJP has claimed that its internal democracy is strong and its leaders at all levels are elected by party bodies. The imposition of a leader by the RSS will belie that claim. Along with organisational control, the RSS will also increase its ideological grip on the party. When the party’s affairs are managed in such great detail by others what remains of its autonomy and independence? Will it be accountable to the people whose support it will seek or the masters who dictate to it?

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