BJP’s solo jaunt: Will sycophancy make way for sanity?
Modiwave Sycophancy Hurt Jaswant Singh, Murali Manohar Joshi of BJP. Forty years ago, when Dev Kant Barooah redefined sycophancy with his infamous slogan ‘Indira is India, India is Indira,’ many thought it to be the epitome of political fawning.
Forty years ago, when Dev Kant Barooah redefined sycophancy with his infamous slogan ‘Indira is India, India is Indira,’ many thought it to be the epitome of political fawning. Institutionalizing an individual and associating the idea of nationhood to him/her, even if the person happened to be the Prime Minister of the nation, was considered a classic mélange of opportunist obsequiousness and preposterous point scoring. It was unprecedented, until of course, BJP 2014 came along.
In an era where mudslinging is often mistook for discourse and rancor is taken as by-word for democracy, the country’s principal opposition is bending over backwards to pander to the whims of its Prime Ministerial candidate. That identities play a significant role in India’s polity is an open secret, and Congress’ long years in Raisina Hills bear ample testimony to it. However, while Congress was shrewd enough to use history and tragedy as trusted monikers to celebrate its individuals, BJP is guilty of putting up a brazen show of producing and promulgating the cult of Narendra Modi.
From pre-recorded phone messages to unsolicited pop-ups on Facebook wall, from metro compartments to ad-slots in World T20, the NaMo ‘wave’ (as BJP likes to call it) is menacing in its moves and suffocating in its stalking (pun intended). A visit to BJP’s head office in Delhi is perhaps the final straw. The sight of party’s old guard, viz Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani et al is conspicuous by its absence on the giant hoarding outside. The entire space, not surprisingly, belongs to the man from Gujarat.
It all started with the party’s patriarch LK Advani red-flagging Narendra Modi’s elevation as the election campaign chief last year. BJP went ahead with its decision, while Advani skipped the meet. The scenes repeated themselves few months later when Modi was formally announced as BJP’s PM nominee. Advani and Modi have rarely seen eye to eye since, and on one of the few occasions that they were photographed together, an indifferent Advani was seen looking the other way even as the Gujarat Chief Minister touched his feet in presumed reverence.
Meanwhile, as Advani continued to sulk, a ‘Modi’fied BJP trained its guns on another stalwart, Murli Manohar Joshi. The former party president and Union Minister was forced to vacate his Varanasi seat for Modi, who, in all likelihood, is bound to drum up his Hindutva agenda in the holy city as campaign heats up. In felicitating Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana (BJP MLAs accused of inciting Muzaffarnagar riots last year), Modi has made no pretense of a secular certificate or inclusive ideology. By all accounts, he will resort to giving clarion calls to local Hindu leaders and ‘mutts’ in Varanasi to propel him to seat of power in Delhi, so that he may return the favour by propagating RSS-backed agenda across the nation. A reluctant Joshi, meanwhile, has been handed the Kanpur constituency, much like Advani who has been pushed into Gandhinagar against his wishes.
If Advani and Joshi were not enough, the saffron party unabashedly sidelined its trusted old hand and one of its founding members Jaswant Singh in another big ‘ticket’ development. Keen to contest election from Barmer, Singh, a sitting MP from Darjeeling, went into a protracted sulk before going ahead and filing his nomination from his preferred seat as an independent contestant.
If BJP’s brash negligence of its experienced arsenal raised voices of dissent, the party drew a blank in containing them. The rather vocal incongruence of Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and firebrand leader Uma Bharti (albeit for entirely different reasons) has dented its image, and has gone a step further to underline the acute paucity of leadership that plagues both the national parties. Riding a strong anti-incumbency wave that is threatening to definitively jeopardize Congress’ fortunes, the BJP finds itself in pole position ahead of General Elections. However, their real challenge will arise after it (if at all) manages to swing a decisive mandate in its favour and the much hyped Modi ‘wave’ ebbs. The party will need its thinking heads to accommodate conflicting thoughts constructively; something their long years in Opposition should have taught them, and something their most celebrated mascot, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, excelled in.