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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2732

BJP and mudslinging

By Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

By injecting tons of needless filth into the Presidential campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party may have harmed its prospects more than any of its blessed followers would have imagined. That the party with a spokeswoman has a bias against women may be only among the lesser damages. The more serious problem could be one of credibility and trying to outlive the charge that the BJP is the party that has made half-truths the axis of its propaganda and cannot make any point without drawing from its vast reservoir of dirty tricks and slander.

Because of a counter campaign against him, the dent on the reputation of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat may be only a transient loss. In his native Rajasthan the media has been drooling over him for so long that few people are willing to put his life under the scanner and are unwilling to see him in a way different from the laudatory and reverential manner of his media projection. But there are people in the state who are familiar with the other side of Shekhawat.

After the expected defeat in the Presidential poll, Shekhawat may have no choice but revert to politics in his home state as there appears to be no suitable vacancy—the top slot—for him in the BJP at the centre. Most people in Rajasthan will agree that his name is synonymous with the rise of the BJP in the state. The lustre of the office of the vice president might have added to his aura in the eyes of the BJP, but his advancing age and the fact of disarray in the BJP will rule out Shekhawat’s willing help in the operation for ‘restoring’ the BJP to its old ‘glory’.

The best that Shekhawat can do for the BJP is to join hands with the Jinnah-admirer L.K. Advani in delivering scurrilous attacks on rivals and making gloomy predictions about them in hyperbolic terms. The BJP strongman from Rajasthan can match Advani in this game. But will Advani brook competition even in a dirty game?
Even before the crushing 2004 loss in parliamentary elections, Advani had climbed the highest peaks of political gibberish.

Maybe, that loss can be attributed to his weird flights of fancy. During the parliamentary poll campaign one recurring theme in Advani’s speeches used to be not so much about ‘India shining’ but that he did not see the Congress reaching even ‘double figures’ in the polls. He always made it a point to deliver well- rehearsed obituary references to the Congress.

These days the pet theme in his speeches is calling Manmohan Singh the ‘weakest’ Prime Minister India has ever seen. Manmohan Singh, declares the Oracle of Gandhinagar, takes his orders from 10 Janpath and has no independent mind of his own and add to that his fondness for pursuing a policy of ‘appeasement’ of Muslims that ‘divides’ the society.

Supporters of the prime minister, however, need not get upset because Advani’s daily recitation of the ‘weakest prime minister’ chant is profoundly ludicrous, coming as it does from the representative of a party that had sent one of its senior ministers as an escort for a forcibly freed Pakistani terrorist. If Advani’s tone betrays his frustration it is because he knows that the dirty tricks department of his party is unable to dig out anything to fling at Manmohan Singh.

Nothing could be more objectionable than to hear the RSS-controlled BJP leadership, senior or junior, talk about a leader of another party allegedly doing the bidding of some other person. The Nagpur-based headquarter of the RSS has a vice-like grip over the affairs of the party and Advani himself has spoken about it in public. The party president has to be approved by Nagpur. The party constitution was amended to ensure that the secretaries, whether in the states or at the centre, came from the ranks of the RSS ‘pracharaks’ (full-time propagandists). Throughout the six-year rule of the BJP at the centre under the aegis of NDA, the nation was witness to a constant sideshow of BJP-RSS spats. Ultimately, the BJP had to accept defeat when it reaffirmed faith in its hardcore Hindutva philosophy.

Words like ‘morality’, ‘conscience’ and ‘dignity’ flow easily from the BJP, probably because its members find these two qualities lacking in their own leadership. The BJP leaders are said to be enamoured of new gadgets but it is ironic that many of them have had mud slung at them because of technological advances which caught them flagrante delicto—hand in the till, cash-for-questions and fudging passport photographs for trafficking are some of the well-known instances. One prominent BJP leader lost his life because his brother thought he deserved a better share in the multi-crore assets accumulated by his sibling.

The BJP’s concern for the ‘dignity’ of constitutional offices would have been touching had it not been so obviously misleading. Both as the ruling as well as the principal opposition party the BJP has levelled charges against these offices. The manner in which the party had ridiculed the Election Commission when it was headed by a Christian brought shame to the country. The party’s disclaimer of hostility towards minorities is belied by the words and actions of its leadership who have announced from public platforms that the Muslims are living in India only because of some divine act of benevolence by the majority community.

Desperate to regain power in UP, often seen as the gateway to Parliament, the BJP had fought the recent state assembly polls with venom and poison a sample of which was encapsulated in video cassettes. The Election Commission had to step in before the BJP agreed, reluctantly, to withdraw the CDs from open circulation, and thereby save itself from sterner action.

The desperate moves made by the BJP in UP ended in it being decisively pushed out of the power contest. The reckless spree of mudslinging indulged in by the BJP in the Presidential campaign will drive it away further from realising its dream of another stint at the centre.

- Syndicate Features -

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