Understanding the BJP – Part 1
Thanks to reasons ranging from facile political punditry to motivated media propaganda, BJP has largely been straight jacketed as ideologically homogenized political force orchestrated by some shadowy unelected backroom knickerclique in Nagpur. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Think of the Republican party in America, ideology of which is essentially a concoction resulting from a complex interplay between various factions comprising it-traditionalists,conservatives,religious rightist, libertarian constitutionalist, liberals, neoconservatives and laissez-faire economic theorists.BJP too shares similar characteristics to Republican Party .Several ideological streams compete within at any given point of time for intellectual supremacy.But unlike how the Republican party has successfully managed to subsume all the ideological strands within a overarching intellectual framework, BJP has struggled to locate a convergence point.
Let us leave out the plethora of reasons for its failure to determine an anchor and focus on the various strands that can be seen in BJP -Savarkarite Stream, Mandal-Kamandal stream, Gangetic Hinduism stream, Swanatatra stream, Brahminical stream,Mercantile Mercenarism stream and Intellectual Kshatriya stream (It would be an exaggeration to call few of them as distinct ideological strands -we are justing using it as a label).We will attept to understand the essence of these strands and governance style likely to be adopted by each one of them (Be aware that nomenclaure adopted for strands has been used in a largely arbitary manner but thats just to drive home the point)
Savarkarite strand-This ideological strand essentially is premised on opportunistically leveraging the political mobilization possibilities inherent in religious nationalism project. Religious mobilization is necessarily means toward the end objective of realizing political power. Those operating in this space don’t envisage a non-secular theocracy but strong western style nation state with a general ambience of ‘Hinduness’ permeating.
Metaphorically this strand would be more comfortable with “laptop” rather than “lathi” .This strand is perfectly at ease with modernist impulses, maintaining a studied indifference on civilization/cultural issues though waiting to articulate it in an almost adversarial manner when they see a particular political context arising. Common characteristic among those who belong in this strand include anti-caste orientation, near irreligiosity, liberal disposition and effusive sense of idealism
Once they assume political power what can be expected is a benign authoritarianism style leadership with emphasis on qualities like impeccable personal integrity quotient and result oriented “de-ideologiesed” governance with help of handpicked set of efficient upright bureaucrats.”Managerial state” would be an ideal word to describe it
Among the important personalities one can be locate in this strand are Advani and Modi .However greatest handicap of this strand is its electoral liability given the incredibly diverse pan Indian electoral milieu(they invoke passionate followership and organised vilification in equal measure) .One can surely write off any chances of this strand supremely gaining ground in near term – a suitable political climate or inflexion point has not been reached.Instinticively many sense a tacit longing for a strong leadership but country still conflicted on arriving at a shared understanding of who that leader is. May be increasingly urbanizing India with a high aspiration quotient could prove us wrong by embracing this stream
Mandal-Kamandal stream-This stream essentially is about the native nationalism of sansktirised middle India, assertion of social groups which traditionally never enjoyed political power. Support of this group has been the key to BJP sustained staying power as only political force in country capable of challenging hegemony of Congress.From Karnataka to MP to Gujarat to UP to Bihar to Maharashtra,BJP made rapid electoral strides thanks to support from these social groups Perspicacious Dalit Scholar Chandrabhan Prasad once came up with what was quite a profound political definition of Hindutva-he called it the “Hinduism of OBC’s”.
BJP’s spectacular electoral success in 90’s was primarily due to the brilliant social engineering strategy formulated by Advani-Govindacharya duo.Powerful regional satraps from diverse social groups were identified and groomed for leadership position. BJP one of the few political parties that consciously performed “Social Engineering” to give representation to all caste groups in party positions. The hardcore left ideologues, masquerading as media columnists somehow successfully manage to perpetuate the charade that BJP and its allied organization are dominated by upper castes. The downward slide of BJP in UP was largely due to the marginalization of Kalyan Singh by the machinations of few discredited upper-caste leaders.
Unlike the Communist party which is dominated by well entrenched elitist, upper class/upper caste and Congress which is essentially a family political enterprise, BJP is still uniquely positioned to co-opt newer social groups and experiment with bolder ideas. Self righteousness and faux morality of party’s mtropolitan centric national leadership sometimes base tends to be in perpetual conflict with this strand which operate with its own norms and rules completely oblivious to urban sensibilities.BJP struggle with some regional satraps like Kalyan/Yeddyurappa/Munde can be understood in this context
This strand on assuming power will focus gaining on control of traditional instruments of power like land/temple/quais religious organisations/district bureaucracy by leveraging on ability of government to dispense goods and services if need be on a targetted manner
….TO BE CONTINUED