Home > India, Indian Economy, Politics > Indian Polity’s Bigger Headache: BJP or Congress …?

Indian Polity’s Bigger Headache: BJP or Congress …?


So-called internal matters of the BJP are in facts issues of importance. Global importance.

BJP after losing power has been a strange case of disintegration - compared to the BJP before gaining power  |  Satish Acharya cartoon on Wednesday, October 26, 2011  titled Gadkari wants to prove his political fitness...

BJP after losing power has been a strange case of disintegration – compared to the BJP before gaining power | Satish Acharya cartoon on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 titled Gadkari wants to prove his political fitness…

There Is No Alternative

From 1947 to 1987, for the first forty years of modern India, Congress was the behemoth that dominated Indian politics. For a brief two years, a combined opposition had managed to unseat the Congress in 1977-1979 – only to fall apart amidst power-jockeying.

Probably, one man changed that.

Cutting Edge

Lal Krishna Advani.

In 1986, Advani a second rung leader of BJP, was appointed president, though not much was expected from him. BJP then, under the shadow of a lone-star leader,  AB Vajpayee, was a fringe party in national Indian politics, that had been without power for nearly forty years.

At the cusp of a changing world-order, BJP under Advani became the force in Indian politics. Instead of Congress aligning with a declining Soviet Union, BJP proposed closer ties with the West. Slow-paced reforms after Bombay High, by the Congress was challenged by BJP’s agenda for faster liberalization. The Congress stance of apologetic secularism, after granting Pakistan to Indian Muslims, was roundly lampooned by the BJP.

Events were on Advani’s side.

Power competition has become a subject to regional-tribal instincts. Between Gujarati Modi and Marathi Gadakari.  |  Satish Acharya cartoon on October 26 2012

Power competition has become a subject to regional-tribal instincts. Between Gujarati Modi and Marathi Gadakari. | Satish Acharya cartoon on October 26 2012

When Things Go Right

Soviet Union collapsed. The Islamic world, under Western dominance rebelled. Starting with the Iranian Revolution under Khomeini, the Islamic world took a turn towards fundamentalism – unleashing a reactionary Islamic demonization by the West. Reforms and liberalization paid off – and Pakistan imploded.

A Partition-era refugee from what is now Pakistan, Advani had few pre-conceived notions on politics. Taking a leaf from an Andhra politician, NT Rama Rao, Advani went on his first rath yatra on Septemeber 25th, 1987. NT Rama Rao had earlier wrested AP from Congress strangehold with a nearly year-long mass-contact campaign, in his chaitanya ratham.

Two years after his rath yatra, BJP supported the formaton of a non-Congress government under VP Singh. BJP had arrived. Congress was decimated. After Advani, Congress has not won an electoral majority for 25 years now.

Post-Soviet World

Between 1986 to 1991, for the Indian Republic it was trial by fire.

In 1986, Advani became BJP party president and Rajiv Gandhi was a democratic dictator with a brute majority in the Parliament. ND Tiwari, Pranab Mukherjee and VP Singh were seen as dynamic Finance Ministers who were liberalizing India after Bombay High.

Licence Raj was being dismantled. Shoots of a new India could be seen – with Indian companies charging in all directions. Stocks markets were in a frenzy. The 1977 George Fernandes industrial policy was effective at buffering Indian companies from Big Brother multinationals.

Companies like HCL, WIPRO, pioneered Unix-based systems – among the first in the world.

Bofors and Soviet implosion changed India forever. Rajiv Gandhi lost the election in 1989 – with BJP helping form a minority VP-Singh government. In 1991, Soviet Union collapsed. Indian foreign policy lay in tatters. India itself was on the brink of a financial default.

Election results returned a hung parliament.

RSS seniors seem to feel threatened. After foisting irrelevant leaders on BJP, they wonder why BJP is revolting?  |  Cartoon by Surendra on November 19, 2011; source & courtesy - thehindu.com

RSS seniors seem to feel threatened. After foisting irrelevant leaders on BJP, they wonder why BJP is revolting? | Cartoon by Surendra on November 19, 2011; source & courtesy – thehindu.com

Crisis after Disaster

BJP under Advani’s leadership stablized a minority government. Finally, a BJP government was formed – from 19 March 1998 to 22 May 2004. These were crucial years. A stable coalition government, a first in India, lasted a full term. It presided over India’s affairs in a very fluid world.

It was during this period that India initiated, a different relationship with Russia. As the more stable partner, India defined this more equal relationship that saved Russia’s defence industry from ruin. In turn India itself benefited by getting defence products on the cheap, more suitable for India’s requirements.

India also created a global industry, in which semi-finished Russian armaments were fitted with advanced third-party technologies to make these products comparable to the best in the world. India’s frontline fighter, Su-30 MKI is one such example.

No surprises then when the Russian ambassador landed at Advani’s home, to wish him well on his 85th birthday.

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin bends down to LK Advani on Advani's 85th birthday on Nov 08, 2012 |  Image source  PTI; courtesy - outlookindia.com

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin bends down to LK Advani on Advani’s 85th birthday on Nov 08, 2012 | Image source PTI; courtesy – outlookindia.com

In a rare gesture, Russian ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin today broke away from diplomatic protocol and touched the feet of BJP veteran L K Advani while visiting the leader to wish him on his 85th birthday.

Such a gesture is virtually unheard of in diplomatic circles as most diplomats and heads of state or government only go to the extent of folding their hands in a ‘namaste’ to wish an Indian leader. Shaking of hands is the norm in such meetings.

Kadakin, an Indophile, conversed in chaste Hindi with Advani throughout his visit at the Prithviraj Road-residence.

via Russian ambassador touches Advani’s feet – Times Of India.

The Russian ambassador is not a private person, who can claim indulgence. He is governed by diplomatic protocol – and represents his country. So, when he pays respects to Advani, it is a gesture of far-reaching symbolism.

On one side.

Rubber Hits The Road

On the other side, when events conspire to show a different side of BJP, it become a matter of national importance – even though BJP is not in power.

Ever since anti-corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal trained his guns on Mr. Gadkari for the alleged wrongdoings by a company owned by him, there have been murmurs within the BJP that an influential section within is targeting Mr. Gadkari. However, it is for the first time that any one has pointed fingers at Mr. Modi.

The rumblings within the BJP surfaced after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani and his son Mahesh Jethmalani went public saying Mr. Gadkari should immediately step down from his post as the charges against him were damaging to the party.

The senior Jethmalani claimed the backing of other party leaders like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha. The campaign within the BJP against Mr. Gadkari is widely perceived as a power struggle among senior leaders with an eye on the 2014 elections.

via The Hindu : News / National : Gadkari rejects ‘insinuation’ made by RSS member, says party united behind Modi.

In fact not just national importance – but international importance. Unlike what Congress says, these are not the internal matters of the BJP.

Envoys from 20 Arab countries met BJP President Nitin Gadkari today to discuss his party’s plan in the forthcoming Parliament session, it’s agenda on the internal and external affairs if it comes to power, and relations with the Arab world and India’s neighbours.

The diplomats led by Moroccan Ambassador Larbi Reffouh, who is the acting president of the Arab Group, met Gadkari at his residence here.

The Arab Group met Gadkari to discuss the BJP’s plans for the forthcoming winter session of Parliament that begins on November 22, as also the party’s vision on the present internal situation in India.

The grouping was also keen on knowing the BJP’s internal and external affairs agenda in case it is voted to power in the next general elections.

The ambassadors also wanted to learn about the main Opposition’s attitude on relations with the Arab World and India’s neighbours.

via Envoys from 20 Arab countries meet BJP President Nitin Gadkari – Economic Times.

The BJP-RSS combine, popularly known as the sangh combine, have projected themselves as proponents of an akhand Bharat (Greater India), movers and shakers of Hindutva, and ultra-nationalists.

Imagine the surprise, when a national daily reports

Competitive politics will have some road-kills - like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi  |  Manjul's Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi's posters on 6.10.2012Competitive politics will have some road-kills - like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi  |  Manjul's Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi's posters on 6.10.2012

Competitive politics will have some road-kills – like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi | Manjul’s Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi’s posters on 6.10.2012

For several weeks now that there is a grand Marathi versus Uttar Bharatiya divide a la Bal Thackeray and Raj Thackeray within the RSS and its organisational wings, with RSS sarsnaghchalak Mohan Bhagwat believing that north Indian leaders are skimming the cream for work really done by Maharashtrian pracharaks in various states that brought them to power (for example: Sanjay Joshi versus Narendra Modi in Gujarat).

That is why Gadkari is still supported by RSS leaders but he should know by now that this is a fight to the finish for leaders like LK Advani and Modi, who still hope to be prime minister.

It is very clear that the anti-Gadkari lobby in the BJP is trying to make the RSS’s position on their choice of BJP president unsustainable by the day and I wonder how long it will take for Reshim Bagh to cave in. But the pro-Advani-Modi lobbies in the BJP are making a serious mistake if they think a little thing like foot-in-the-mouth disease or some as yet unproven allegations, however serious they may appear, is going to deter Bhagwat from his chosen path So I would watch Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar rather closely – yes, the very same person who had called Advani a `rancid pickle’

via A season of gaffes – Hindustan Times.

This entire speculation gained credibility, when MG Vaidya, a unofficial spokesman of the RSS joined the debate weighing in on Gadkari’s side. Vaidya, the Nagpur-based ex-chief editor of Tarun Bharat, the RSS publication, in his Marathi-blog asserted that the anti-Gadkari campaign started in Gujarat.

Original Marathi text

एकाच व्यक्तीच्या एकाच वक्तव्यात, गडकरींनी जावे आणि मोदींना प्रधानमंत्री करावे, असे उल्लेख आल्यामुळे, गडकरीविरोधी कारस्थानाचे केंद्र गुजरातमध्ये आहे, असा संशय कुणाच्याही मनात येणे स्वाभाविक आहे आणि गुजरात म्हटले की, मग नरेंद्र मोदी यांच्याकडेच संशयाच्या सुईचे टोक जाणार.

Hindi Translation provided by the author /publication on the original blog.

एक ही व्यक्ति के एक ही वक्तव्य में, गडकरी जाए और मोदी को प्रधानमंत्री करें, ऐसा उल्लेख आने के कारण, गडकरी विरोधी षड्यंत्र का केन्द्र गुजरात में है, ऐसा संदेह मन में आना स्वाभाविक है और गुजरात कहने के बाद, फिर संदेह की उंगली नरेन्द्र मोदी की ओर ही मुडेगी.

via RSS Veteran MG Vaidya blog article on BJP issue: भाजपा की अ-स्वस्थता: मा. गो. वैद्य | Vishwa Samvada Kendra.

English reportage

In his blog, Vaidya has said the “needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP president Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.”

He also noted that “Ram Jethmalani had in one breath said he is seeking the resignation of Gadkari and that he also wanted to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister in 2014.”

While both L K Advani and Gadkari have publicly stated that they don’t have Prime Ministerial ambitions, Vaidya, a former spokesman of RSS, said he “hasn’t read anywhere that Narendra Modi has denied reports of his ambition to become the Prime Minister.”

Vaidya today stood by his remark, saying, “It is my opinion and because Jethmalani has combined two things demanding Gadkari’s resignation and making Narendra Modi as PM, I think that the needle of suspicion goes to Gujarat.

“I did not say that, I just said that needle of suspicion goes to Modi and that raises suspicion if Jethmalani is entitled to his own point of view, I am also entitled to my point of view and RSS has nothing to do with it.”

via Vaidya blames Modi for “campaign” against Gadkari.

Narendra Modi may be a great demon or a superb chief minister. That question for this discussion is irrelevant. However, if his candidature is being decided on the basis of Gujarati vs Marathi axis, RSS deserves much greater contempt than what they have got till date.


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  1. November 13, 2012 at 12:32 am

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