Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Right wing politics in India

I'd cited Pratap Bhanu Mehta's previous post in his column most approvingly earlier. But In the next instalment, in spite of making some very important points, I find it hard to agree to his critique in its entirety. The points about BJP playing up the victimhood and Advani's remarks on being "hurt" are spot on.
Advani unconsciously revealed more about himself and his party: both thrive on a constant play on the theme of victimhood. The minute the Congress ratcheted up the heat on Advani’s record, he retreated into playing victim. Try as much as it can, the BJP struggles to rise above a discourse of victimhood, one that has increasingly less resonance.....

....Electoral fortunes depend on a lot of things. But the very longevity of the Congress is a sign that there is something about it that is worth salvaging. But all that remains of the BJP is a long sulk, one that will haunt it even when it is in power. A party whose leader is so quickly “hurt” is a party with no foundations.
But, as he mentioned in his previous post, secularism has taken on quite an insidious meaning. To backtrack on this, and say that "Pseudo-secularism" is irrelevant is hypocritical. To dismiss the "Gujarat" model of development without explanation also reeks of dishonesty. The development seen in Gujarat is just a result of empowerment of the individual and accountability, therefore it is as much a novel model as are freedom and democracy. We classical liberals believe that it is replicable, not just in a country, but in the entire world.

It is a sad reflection on the leadership vacuum, that BJP had to recall Advani( who admitted to thoughts of quitting active politics after the Jinnah incident). But, the same holds for INC which fields as its Prime Ministerial candidate, Dr.Manmohan Singh who is leader enough to sit in the chair, but not a leader enough to contest an election or even lead a campaign.

Infact, it is an apt commentary on the absence of first-tier national leaders that even after five years of such gross misgovernance and incompetence, the opposition finds it so hard to dislodge the incumbent party from power. He mentions Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Narendra modi as the only visible second tier leaders from BJP, but apart from Sheila Dixit(who incidentally doesn't belong to the 30s-40s group he talks about), I don't see any second tier leaders who can grow into their own in INC either. Unless he wants to believe self-endorsed "leaders" like Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and Jyotiraditya Scinida are the gen-next, it is like watching a game between two minnows. Also, longevity has nothing to do with desirability.

And a final remark regarding the difference in kind of criticism INC and BJP receives. Just as the columnist sees INC as his ideological representative and criticises it for deviating from its ideal, there are a few who hope BJP evolves into a Right-of-center party in economic terms so that a parity is restored to political and economic discourse at national level. A disenchantment with RSS, growing distance between RSS and BJP and slow-down in recruitment of RSS ranks is a welcome development. At the same time response to initiatives like Friends of BJP both from the people and the party suggests to me that there is hope that BJP may one day outgrow the religious roots and into a right of center party acceptable to a majority.

PS: Why do the intellectuals who never fail to remind us that even the extremists like Taliban, Hamas etc have good and bad factions, find it convenient to club all right wing activism and attribute it to RSS and by extension to BJP?


Anonymous said...

Your PS deserves a post all by itself, but it would be an exercise in futility, which is a real pity.

shrek said...

which is precisely the reason it is just a footnote and not a chapter(as I originally intended it to be)

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