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  What ails with the BJP?  


By: Ganesh Sovani
August 22, 2005
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


The immediate suspension of unrelenting Madanlal Khurana from the BJP over his repeated demand for the removal of Narendra Modi as Gujrat CM has once again thrown BJP in huge political turmoil. It is interesting to note that the ex - Delhi CM reiterated this demand coinciding with the visit of party president L.K. Advani’s first visit to Gujrat after the eruption of controversy generated by him over his newly found secular credentials of late Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Remarks made by him during his Pakistan visit had virtually caused a vertical split in the party and its parent organization RSS, had taken up this issue very seriously. Peeved over the reactions from the RSS and over all party workers, who too were taken by surprise, Advani had tendered his resignation only to be withdrawn it within forty eight hours after the successful mediation of the party’s second rung leaders, even as Advani was firm on his views on Jinnah, the position which he has consistently maintained till this date.

Madanlal Khurana, on his part, not only pressed for Modi’s removal on the backdrop of Jagdish Tytler’s resignation from the union cabinet after Justice Nanavati’s 1984 Delhi riot report was tabled in Parliament on Monday 8th of July, 2005, but he was also fomenting his anger against those second rung leaders who have allegedly surrounded Advani in cosy air conditioned rooms. In addition to this, what Khurana was trying to impress upon the high command was that the party should also emulate the Prime Minister Dr. Singh, by asking Gujrat CM to resign, thereby to remain in good books of people.

However, major chunk of BJP leaders were emphasising that till this date Justice Nanavati, who is also incidentally conducting an enquiry into post Godhra riots had not indicted Modi in his interim report, but on the contrary, given a clean chit to high level Gujrat state officials and politicians as well, without naming anybody.

Why Advani still backs Modi ?

There are many in India, who are still wondering as to why Advani is still backing Modi, even as the public perception of his ‘inability’ to control the riots continues to exist. However, on his part, Advani has maintained that if Modi was to be removed at this juncture, as the Gujrat assembly elections are still two and quarter years away, then the demands of removal of other chief ministers of BJP ruled states like Rajasthan, M.P., Gujrat, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand would also precipitate, who too are also facing dissidents in their respective states.

Uma Bharati’s staunch supporter ex union minister Pralhad Patel, has suddenly resurfaced demanding the removal of Babulal Gaur as Madhya Pradesh MP. Similarly, Babulal Marandi, the ex – chief minister of Jharkhand has freshly demanded the removal of Arjun Munda , who assumed the seat of power at Ranchi, after Congress – JMM government headed by Shibu Soren was asked to resign by Delhi before the petition challenging the Governor’s debatable action was about to be heard in Apex court. All these sudden developments in the BJP ruled states have sent party higher ups in tizzy.

It is interesting to note that when Khurana re-launched his ‘Modi – Hatao’ campaign in less than four weeks, he along with the dissidents in Gujrat preferred to meet Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi to vent their feelings. However, Dr. Joshi showed his equanimity by directing them to meet ex- prime minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee, rather than making any comment or taking any initiative on the whole issue. It is an open secret that Dr. Joshi has not been able to get along with L.K. Advani on scores of issues, a fact which has considerably confounded party workers.

The initial euphoria generated in the BJP over the resignation of union minister Jagdish Tytler in the wake of tabling of Justice Nanavati report on 1984 Delhi riots on the last Monday, seems to have been gradually waning. When the report was revealed in Parliament, it’s leaders right from Delhi state level unit up to national level were just short of telling both, the media and the people “we told you so” (about the involvement of Tytler and others ! ) in Delhi riots, in the wake of Madam Indira Gandhi’s assassination, which in nearly 4,000 innocent Sikhs lost their lives.

PM’s initiative in removing Tytler

During the course of debate in Parliament, L.K. Advani, as the leader of opposition had gone to the extent of alleging that the Congress was guilty of shielding the culprits for the last twenty-one years. But it was the Prime Minister who impressed upon Madam Sonia Gandhi for the immediate removal of Tytler from the cabinet, although the Nanavati commission had merely mentioned about his ‘probable’ role during the riots. The PM seems to have reacted more out of ‘public perception’ about Tytler’s involvement in the riots, lest his further continuance in the cabinet could cause further embarrassment to his government.

It may be recalled that Dr. Singh was extremely averse to Tytler’s inclusion in his cabinet, when he was sworn in as India’s fourteenth prime minister in May, 2004. But he had to finally bow to the wishes of Delhi State Congress unit in general and to that of Delhi CM Sheila Dixit in particular for accommodating Tytler in his cabinet.

On the backdrop of Tytler’s resignation, another controversial Congress politician who had allegedly participated in the riots, Dharam Das Shastri too resigned as a chairman of Delhi Rural Development Board, only to manifest the panic reaction of the Congress.

While giving the reaction to the electronic media, one Sikh gentleman was shown as saying that if the action was not taken against Tytler and other culprits, then we would not hesitate to demand Khalistan, thereby indicating how the Sikh community still continues to be enraged with the very names of Tytler, Shastri, etc.

Had the Prime Minister, Dr. Singh, being a Sikh could not have managed Tytler’s resignation, that could have shown as a sign of his ‘weakness’ even as being PM and the SPGC (Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee) in that eventuality could have also threatened of his excommunication from Sikh Panth, a traumatic experience which incumbent Bihar governor Buta Singh had undergone almost a decade ago. Very few would recollect that Buta Singh was asked to polish the shoes, chappals and footwear of Golden Temple visitors for a week or so, as penance before he was readmitted into Panth.

Some unignorable facts

Though initially in self patting mode, over Justice Nanavti’s report on 1984 Delhi riots, as the commission was appointed by the BJP, albeit to both please and placate Akalis in Punjab, the BJP (and RSS as well) has also realized to some extent what next could be in store as Justice Nanavati is expected to submit his Gujrat riot reports in six months time from now.

When Nanavati commission starts jotting down it’s finding on Gujrat riots, one thing is quite certain that it can not afford to ignore the numerous flaks and strictures which have already been passed by the highest court of the land, in the wake of Zahira Shaikh, Bilkis Banu and post-Godhra riot matters, for the manner in which Modi had allegedly shielded the culprits of the riots and the shoddy investigation done by Gujrat police, which had even hit the international headlines. When it transferred Zahira Sheikh’s matter from Gujrat to Maharashtra for the criminal trial, the then Supreme Court was just short of suggesting the removal of Gujrat chief minister with immediate effect for his controversial inaction during the initial phase of the riots.

So also, it would be very difficult for retired justice Liberhann to over look the incidence of framing of charges by Rai Bareli Special Trial Court, on BJP stalwarts like L.K. Advani, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Kattiar, etc. in the last month, for being ‘conspirators’ in the demolition of sixteenth century disputed structure at Ayodhya. Though CBI had given clean chit to Advani when NDA government was in power, it is the same investigation agency which has charge sheeted Advani along with other leaders, as it found credible evidence of his conspiratorial role in crime.

Godhra train carnage : party’s piquant position

Although the carnage on two ill fated compartments of ‘Sabarmati Express’ has been sighted as the root cause of post Godhra riots, even on this front too, the BJP seems to be facing a piquant situation.

There are many grey areas which Justice Nanavati will have to seriously look into while investigating Godhra train tragedy in which 58 passers from Coach Nos. S – 6 & S – 7 were charred to death. Even as the NDA government was in power, the Railway Ministry did not institute any separate enquiry prior to the creation of Justice Nanavati Commission by the Gujrat state government, which has been also entrusted the task of enquiring into train carnage as well. Now, the Congress I headed UPA government coming into power a separate commission headed by Justice Bannerji has been appointed to enquire into train carnage.

Two days back Justice Bannerji travelled in a railway compartment of a train which was made to rerun between Delhi to Safdarjang railway stations to find out how the two coaches of ‘Sabarmati Express’ might have caught the fire. But Justice Bannerji was forced to do rerunning of the train, as the two coaches which were completely gutted stand dismantled, thereby giving lot of speculation to arise.

How can these coaches be so dismantled which form the part of muddemal property in the Godhra criminal trial which is still pending. Being a trial judge, the Special POTA judge at Mehsana has every right to inspect such coaches and visit scene of offence, before delivering the verdict should he opts so. How can he do so now ?

One would not be surprised if a any new controversy emerges on this score. Who ordered the dismantling of these coaches? What was the intention behind their dismantling? These are extremely tricky questions which BJP would find it very difficult to answer, as it was in power both at Gandhi Nagar and Delhi at the relevant time.

It was the myopic attitude which the BJP has maintained over Godhra train inferno and it’s after math, after the party led by Modi got elected in December, 2002 assembly elections which appears to be causing significant damage to the party. No one has slightest inkling about all these delicate issues, leave alone the answers to them.

Advani : An over rated politician ?

All this makes to wonder, what is ailing with the party which was regarded as a party of truly inspirational cadres who have scarified their lives, careers, professional pursuits for the sake of the party and country as well.

There is no denying of the fact that Advani’s remarks on Jinnah and controversy which erupted thereafter have weakened the moral of average party worker. Barring second rung leaders, who continue to back Advani in his critical times, the party president has no more supporters in the party.

Even the media has been wondering whether it over rated Advani by calling him as an ‘Iron man’ after getting enamoured with his Ayodhya movement, a sobriquet which was justifiably prefixed to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, as his performance as a home minister in the wake of Hyderabad action (inspite of Pandit Nehru’s opposition to it) and abolition of 650 princely states was quite remarkable.

When the NDA was in power, even the RSS was also sore with him, as being home minister, he could not give justice to it, when it’s four workers were brutally murdered in the North East part of India couple of years ago.

As a home minister for six years in a row, he could have very well introduced police reforms which have been gathering the dust for more than two decades and thereby strengthen country’s police machinery, which was the need of the hour. Also, no effort was made to revamp country’s intelligence wings, namely, IB (Intelligence Bureau) and RAW (Research & Analysis Wing), which are in the news these days for the wrong reasons.

It was L.K. Advani who was on the forefront in demanding the then home secretary N.N. Vora’s report on ‘Politician – criminal nexus’ report be made public, when BJP was in opposition when Congress led government led by P.V. Narasimha Rao was in power. However, during his six year tenure as a home minister, he could not show the courage of making that report public, leave alone taking any stringent step in breaking such nexus, which has now spread to towns and villages across the country.

Need to redefine its policies :

It is a high time that the party should adopt both saner and realistic approach thereby giving an ear to the expectations of the people, rather than imposing any religious based ideology. A common man in India is least concerned whether Ram temple is constructed in Ayodhya whether at disputed or undisputed site. The Ram temple might have been a rallying point a decade and half ago, but the truth is that it is no longer so.

The common man is concerned with his livelihood, shelter, education, safety and security.

The speed with which the incumbent UPA government has come out with rural employment guarantee and minimum wages bill has astounded many and Congress is bound to utilize this as a poll plank when the next elections are held. Being a hard core economist, Dr. Singh is fully aware that his party has no reason to worry, if the economic expectations of the people are fully addressed in a systematic manner, before the next general elections are declared. Five years is a short period to fulfil the aspirations of everyone in the country. But if HE lays down an irreversible path to that effect that would suffice for the party, no matter, how loud left parties make tantrums about it.

All in all, BJP is facing the worst political crisis in its silver jubilee year and unless it redefines its priorities and adopts people oriented approach rather than populist or slogan oriented approach, the party has very little chanced to come out of current turmoil. To make all that happen, it’s parent body, RSS will have give a complete free hand to BJP to lay down it’s strategies and the present situation paves an ideal time for drawing a ‘Laxman Rekha’ between the RSS and BJP.

The RSS on its part must also realize that the BJP being a political outfit can not afford to address the issues confronted by only Hindus in this country, but it will have to take care of all sections of the society, in order to establish its secular credentials. Should it try to become a religion based party, it would invite the wrath of the election commission as well.

Sooner both of them realize it, better for them and better for the country !

Ganesh Sovani

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