Stuck in the past


The deliberations were marked by innuendos and allegations, tactical positioning for the leadership mantle without a convincing claim for it, worries about loss of discipline and a confused search for the reasons for the party’s debacle and for answers. The political resolution just surveyed the wreckage and expressed the pious hope that the party would overcome the adverse circumstances with its internal strength. But there was no agreement on what constitutes that internal strength.

The epistolary attacks launched by senior leaders like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie before the meeting exposed the cracks in discipline but they also rightly pointed the oddity of rewarding those who had to be held accountable for the party’s failures. Shourie said the party had been taken over by conspirators and Sushma Swaraj felt it was sitting on a volcano. L K Advani’s review of the situation did not help much. If anything, it showed that he is still caught in the rath yatra period of the party and unable to think of creative ways to relate to the country.

Lack of clarity about ideology and identity is at the root of the BJP’s plight. Party president Rajnath Singh asserted that the party is committed to core Hindutva issues. The discussions on Varun Gandhi’s hate speech revealed the deep divide within the party on Hindutva. The BJP has projected different versions of Hindutva to suit different occasions and has lost its credibility. Whenever there is a setback it attributes it to a perceived shift from the Hindutva ideology, without realising that its allegiance to the creed,  even the most moderate version of which is exclusive and confrontationist, is the real problem.

The umbilical relationship with the RSS is another constraint it is unable to shake off. The BJP is locked in the past, while the country has opened up to the future. Its search for relevance will end only when it throws up a leadership that realises this and reshapes itself in accordance with that recognition.

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