Jaswanth Singh, Sudeendra Kulakarni, Arun Shourie, the list perhaps goes on. Vasundara Raje rises in revolt, Arun Jaitley annoyed with Rajnath Singh, the ailing patriarch disappointed over the state of affairs in the party, rightly so, the spiritual force behind the BJP warns the party leadership to tackle indiscipline firmly. The party is not plagued with differences over tackling drought or price rise. It is rather baffling that the major opposition in Indian Parliament is battling with itself as the ghost of Jinnah haunts it. Instead of fighting with the government on the concerns of people, the party that ruled the country for so many years is caught in the quagmire of historical controversies that have little or no relevance with the contemporary India.
Well, it is true that the exit of leaders like Jaswanth, Sudeendra or Shourie may at best end up as headlines in the media for few days. These developments may not cause irreparable damage to a party still guided by an ideology and driven by lakhs of dedicated cadre. The RSS is still active and vibrant to supply oxygen to BJP especially when it suffers from acute respiratory problems like the present one. When the founder leader Balaraj Madhok could not do anything to Jansangh, fire brand Uma Bharati, ideologue Govinda Acharya, even Kalyan Singh etc, could not hurt the party seriously, Jaswanth Singh and others can do little harm. These are the leaders planted from the top during the sunlit era of the party. The BJP leadership is correct when it gives this explanation to the recent developments. But, the party can not be oblivious to the fact that the present crisis is only symptomatic. The real ailment is much more deep routed and is eating into the vitals of the party which still unable to come out of the shock inflicted by the 2009 poll mandate.
The real issues are many. Firstly the party is confronted with ideological contradictions. The ideological moorings of the party are in cultural nationalism which is an euphemism for religion based political mobilization aimed at Theocratic State. But, the very character of Hinduism makes it practically not possible to rally people in a big way. As the veteran historian Sarvepally Gopal pointed out, Hinduism is a religion without a circumference. Hinduism is a way of life. Even an atheist can also be a Hindu. Hinduism has many streams. The BJP find sit self in a difficult situation to communalise this secular religion. Understanding this reality, BJP tried to invent other ways of reaching to the seat of power. It got an opportunity in the form of Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi. The earlier incarnation of BJP, the Bharatiya Jansangh joined the mainstream of anti-emergency struggle. It got amalgamated into Janata party which received a massive mandate in 1977 Lok sabha elections. But, this arrangement did not long lost. The dual membership issue cropped up. The relationship between Janata party members and the RSS membership evoked strong protest from a section of Janata party leadership. However, the murky experience with Janata experiment gave a sort of legitimacy to former Janasangh elements. Thus emerged the Bharatiya Janata party on the Indian political landscape. The abortive Janata experiment benefited former Janasangh in getting at least some sort of mainstream political image. The vexed politics of Congress, the self disruptive disintegration of Janata pariwar provided an opportunity for the BJP to hide its religious politics and present itself as a party with difference. The slogan of BJP at the time of inception was not the cultural nationalism or integral humanism or Hindutva. The BJP professed Gandhian socialism. It borrowed the slogan of Gandhi from Congress agenda and socialism from the Left. This was a brazen attempt to cover up its right wing political, social, and economic world view. Then came the Bofors scandal and VP Singh tirade over corruption. Though VP Singh caught the imagination of the nation to an extent, his popular base was not sufficient enough to catapult him to power. This resulted in a peculiar arrangement in Indian Politcs. VP Singh government was supported by BJP from the right and the communists from the Left. But, this too did not go longer. The mandalisation of politics threatened the BJP as caste began to replace religion as the principal means of political mobilisation. The BJP soon realized the impending danger to its politics. It swiftly acted. The original agenda of BJP came to the fore. Gandhian Socialism was given a go-bye. The anti-corruption crusade was driven to the back seat. L K Advani led the infamous Rath Yatra. Ram temple issue was by then the main slogan of BJP. The Mandir issue brought brilliant fortunes for the party. It came to the centre stage of Indian Politics. In the absence of a credible non-Congress secular alternative, the anti-congress political forces especially the regional parties rallied behind the BJP. This created the NDA epoch in Indian politics. At its peak, the NDA has 24 constituents. Of course, it now has only eight parties in its fold.
Corruption plagued the party. The BJP MPs were caught in the Cash for questions scam. On crucial confidence vote too, party MPs resorted to cross voting rudely questioning the party discipline. The Khetan Parekh scam, the Cellular licensing scam, the Mauritius link scam etc., are few more dubious chapters in the saga of corruption. During BJP dispensation the slogan of Rama Rajya proved to be a mockery. The BJP led NDA rule thus belied the expectations of people disenchanted with congress rule. The Party professed the ideology of Swadeshi. But in reality it opened the flood gates for the indiscriminate flow of foreign capital. The long tested policy of Non-Alignment was sacrificed at the altar of a paradigm shift in foreign policy in favour of United States. Attack on Parliament by terrorists questioned its hawkish postures on national security. The BJP pursued the policies of economic reforms authored by congress much more vigorously. Thus, the BJP failed to be a party with a difference and proved to be a party that can no longer claim to be a programmatic alternative to congress on the issue of governance.
The party lost its focus and started moving in different directions in search of a slogan that can bring it back to power. Advani launched a personal campaign against Manmohan Singh. Much to the disappointment of many within the party and NDA, Narendra Mody was projected as its future prime minister. Varun Gandhi became new poster boy of BJP politics. Development and governance were replaced by bigotry and hate politics. Yet, it could not win the polls.
The BJP is still caught between devil and the deep blue sea. The party cannot embrace inclusive politics. Without inclusive politics, power shall remain a pipe dream. In a bid to capture power, the BJP brought into its fold many who do not subscribe to its core ideology. The BJP’s tryst with power brought about a metamorphosis in the Party. It no longer even claims to be a party with difference. As Jaswanth Singh said power corrupted the party. Hindutva turned into, as Jaswanth Singh puts it, sabotistion of Hinduism. Party infighting became an all India feature. Narendra in Andhra Pradesh, Keshu Bhai Patel in Gujarat, Uma Bharati in Madhya Pradesh, Gopinath Mundey in Maharashtra, Madan Lal Khurana in Delhi, Vasundara Raje in Rajasthan, and Kalyan Singh in Uttar Pradesh revolted. These are only few examples. Regular infighting which was earlier patented by Congress has now become a feature of BJP. At least in congress, Nehru family has remained as a unified command. But, the BJP lost the control and command structure. With the end of Vajpayee era, fast diminishing Advani era landed the party in a deep crisis of leadership. The next generation of party leadership is absolutely incompetent to put the party in order, leave alone rallying allies.