No Ticket to Success

Posted on 2009-02-10
Strategies and tactics are not static. It is the prevailing political economy of a country that determines them. But the BJP’s reiterating at its Nagpur national council meet to build a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya where the Babri mosque once stood shows that the party ignores this reality and continues to stand at the same junction where it did in 1992 when a mob mobilised by it demolished the mosque. How could the party forget that 16 years have passed since then and a number of major political developments have taken place during these years? At least two are quite important for the BJP: the NDA government headed by the BJP ruling India from 1999 to 2004 and 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. Had the party been alive to the changing matrix it would not have drawn out the agenda of Ram temple from its magic box and projected it as its key election agenda.
It is clear that the BJP which aspires to come to power and rule India has run short of political ideas and strategies. The immediate reason for reviving the issue of Ram temple has been the 26/11 terrorist attacks. But the fact cannot be ignored that the BJP has been left behind by the Congress in exploiting this emotive issue. In the recent elections to the four state assemblies the BJP had played this card. But unfortunately for the BJP the people did not subscribe to it as was expected by the BJP leadership. Probably the BJP nurses the feeling that people behind 26/11 have vertically split the people of the country on communal lines. Else, there was no reason to stoke this issue which did not ignite fire even in 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
Though the president of the BJP, Mr Rajnath Singh spoke of “nishtha” and “aastha” (vow and aspiration) of the party for building a temple, he conveniently forgot that the party was never united on this issue. The party was badly divided on this issue, which was why the NDA government could not undertake the task, the construction of the temple. Probably this was the reason that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Mr L K Advani, though he extended support for the Ram Temple construction at Ayodhya was quick to add that such a development should take place without creating communal tension. Already the JD(U), an ally of the BJP in NDA, had opposed it. The senior JD(U) leader and Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr Nitish Kumar has distanced from this vow of Mr Singh and made it known that his party would not support any such move.
The BJP leadership must not misconstrue patriotic sentiments and emotions, that were witnessed post 26/11 terror attack as the revival of Hindutva. The urban middle class, which had emerged as the most formidable social force in the wake of globalisation and reforms, had come to streets to protest against the attacks more in its own interest. The party should also understand that the liberal and urban Hindus are more concerned over consolidating the economic gains. Had it really been fundamentalist in its ideological orientation and approach it would not have rejected the NDA in 2004. It was surprising but quite realistic when Mr Advani went ahead and invited RSS wrath for extending moral support to Jinnah. Therefore it is necessary for Mr Advani and others in the BJP leadership to desist from projecting an issue which has lost political relevance.