There are two prominent features of Indian society - one is feudalism from which we have not been able to come out, a characteristic we have not been able to shed, and second is abiding self interest that overrides social interest and national interest. Our history is replete with these characteristics.
Mr. Advani is credited with the best brain in Indian politics who always measures what he says and how he acts. It is not easy to catch him on the wrong foot. Even sharpest of journalists have not been able to trap him in their questions or his statements. I believe even his views on Jinnah were a well deliberated act which Sangh and BJP leaders could not understand, and hence he suffered the ignominy of banishment. This is the reason he commands respect from thinking political analysts, notwithstanding hatred of many of the tribe for Sangh ideology and his propagation through politics.
It is impossible that Mr. Advani does not understand which way the wind is blowing, and that BJP cannot afford to delay handing over of the party to the next generation, of which many leaders are already past their prime. Nearly all the current generation leaders are his protégés. He has nurtured them for years knowing very well that they have to take over the reins of power from elders sooner than later.
The current scenario is as ironical or comic as Prince Phillip waiting endlessly for the Queen to abandon her throne in his favour and remaining a prince till eternity. While an ornamental monarchy can afford to present such a fate, a democratic party cannot grow like this. Hence, handover to the new generation was long overdue.
It is the first time that such a groundswell of support has forced the party leadership’s hand in favour of Narendra Modi. Would a leader who nurtured the party for decades and made it a prime force in Indian politics have liked to present a leader who may not have had a mass base or who would need crutches of elders to survive, forget win an election for the party? That a Modi is needed to re-energise the party, drifting from TV studio to TV studio giving nothing but reactions to Congress/UPA’s actions rather than presenting its own vision, was urgently felt by all the well wishers of the party. Then, why did Mr. Advani react the way he did?
It is not the first time he has faced such a difficult situation. Even a decade back, he showed his sharp intellect and grace when he brought Mr. Vajpayee back from the cold where he had resigned himself to, knowing his limitations in attracting other allies. He faced marginalization when Socialists created ruckus about dual membership of RSS people in Janata Party and he bore it stoically to finally marginalize them and make BJP primary opposition and then ruling party. Nor is this marginalization of leaders who don’t march in tune with organization is new to Mr. Advani.
In fact, he, along with Mr. Vajpayee was instrumental in sidelining Prof. Madhok, one of the founder members of Jan Sangh. Then, why did he react the way he did? To my mind, it is the old undoing of Indian, nay Hindu society, of putting self interest above that of society. Otherwise, how could a person imbibed in RSS ethos of selfless work for society could behave in a way that he would have known for sure, would damage the party irretrievably and give pseudo-seculars a free run in the next generation, and spoil the chances of BJP coming to power.
It is not just question of UPA or Congress. The situation is so bad that nation is crying for a change to save it from pillage and intellectual corruption of these parties.
It does not matter whether Mr. Advani reacted to Mr. Modi’s elevation or to RSS’s interference or Rajnath’s insubordination. The end result is erosion of BJP’s credibility as a party and erosion of authority of new leadership. In any TV or media debate (the favourite hunting ground of BJP leaders), all the opponents have to do is now to simply smirk, and all the arguments get undone!
It is strange that some people from the BJP are quoted as complaining about micromanaging of the party by RSS, while they themselves request the latter to provide organization its men to strengthen BJP! Do such leaders (if what is reported in media is correct) and media believe that RSS pracharaks are just beasts of burden who will work tirelessly without opening their mouth and expressing their opinions?
This whole projection of RSS role in BJP is so strangely irrational that it defies logic. A few days back, I had an interesting discussion with a mid-level BJP leader in Mumbai, who argued forcefully for more organizational support from RSS to straighten the deteriorating state of BJP as an organization while I suggested that no amount of RSS manpower can improve BJP unless BJP leadership decides to do the spring cleaning of BJP.
Keen observers may recall that Mr. Advani had specifically requested RSS to provide pracharaks to strengthen its organization after BJP got a drubbing in 1984 under Mr. Vajpayee and was highly demoralized. These are the very people on whose shoulders BJP has risen to its present heights. Nobody who invests in a venture can be a silent spectator to the functioning of that venture. Then how can RSS that spares its most precious asset in form of pracharaks for BJP be a silent spectator to what is going on in BJP? Would it not be logical to expect it to push in a word of caution or advice if situation demands?
It is strange that people from every possible walk of life can advise BJP about what is right or wrong for it, RSS cannot! If it does it is interfering or managing BJP. This approach of critics is funny, to say the least. Or is it that RSS is condemned to be an eternal favourite whipping boy of all shades of political opinion from left to right, from Nehru to Advani?
The points that emerge from the episode are – Indians have not developed a new democratic culture in spite of all the talk of ‘emerging nation ’by‘ modern intellectuals of ‘free’ India. We are still trapped in feudalism and self interest. And that media still hasn’t got it right about RSS. It is still blind men trying to understand an elephant.