Reinvention to stay relevant
The consensus is that the Congress will do well and that the BJP will do badly in the State. The Congress is banking on the BS Yeddyurappa (BSY) and...
The consensus is that the Congress will do well and that the BJP will do badly in the State. The Congress is banking on the BS Yeddyurappa (BSY) and HD Deve Gowda (HDD) factors to pump-prime its electoral fortunes. Still there is no guarantee that the GOP will sweep the polls.
Politics also has become a game of glorious uncertainties. So it is hazardous to take on face value the Nitishkumonics. It is equally hazardous to be carried away by the BJP bytes. One thing is clear, though. Neither the JD-U nor the BJP would like to take the final call till the Congress decides to go for elections. That timing will necessarily depend on the outcome of the semi-finals being played in Karnataka. The consensus is that the Congress will do well and that the BJP will do badly in the State. The Congress is banking on the BS Yeddyurappa (BSY) and HD Deve Gowda (HDD) factors to pump-prime its electoral fortunes. Still there is no guarantee that the GOP will sweep the polls. Despite his community card, BSY has proved to be a disaster both for himself and the BJP. To expect people to trust him in the way they did five years ago, when he sought vote for the BJP in order to fulfill his dream, is no more than searching for water in the Thar. Deve Gowda and his son are in the BSY league, in a manner of speaking. They too committed self-goals in their single- minded pursuit of power politics. The eggheads in the Congress war room are loath to admit this reality. If the Karnataka voters deliver a split verdict, the Congress will find itself bruised, and would not like to club the semi-final and the final. The Congress is not on a firm ground in Delhi and Rajasthan. Its stars are not looking bright in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In fact, in these four States, the BJP hopes to fare well and keep alive its chances of facing the Congress in the finals from a position of strength. Now the wishful thinking in the BJP and its extended Parivar is making the Congress jittery. The party is bending over backwards to woo Nitish Kumar in the hope that an Indira-MGR-type deal will make him comfortable and deliver Bihar to the Congress kitty. As of today, the engineer-turned-politician will be more than happy if the BJP walks out on its own from his coalition. Numerically speaking, he has the numbers to survive on the floor of the Assembly. Nitish has created an aura for himself across North India and amongst the Biharis who have carved out their own separate enclaves outside the State during Lalu Prasad rule. For RaGa and his brains trust all this is a bonus. Some sections of the media often ask the question: Will Nitish, whose politics, like the politics of the TDP, are built on anti-Congress platform, close ranks with the Congress? Theories are relevant to the capital's 'cocktail' circuit, not in the playing fields of politics. Otherwise, the Lohiaite Nitish and firebrand socialist George Fernandez would not have been the founder-members of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). It is a known fact of history that Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani complemented each other on the BJP stage. Their public image, one as a liberal steeped in Nehruvian vision, and as the right person at the wrong place, and the other as the Hindu fundamentalist, is cultivated. These images served the BJP. Reality check may, however, show Advani as more liberal and broadminded, and his Ayodhya politics as no more than a strategy to widen the BJP base; but in public perception the Rath Yatra has become a benchmark in divisive politics. There is an attempt to project Advani-Modi Jodi as the new Atal-Advani avatar. It suits the Nitishs of the NDA, who can trumpet some little-known facts about Advani to tell the world that his certificate to Jinnah's secular credentials was not an exception but falls into a pattern. For instance, it was Pakistani diplomats' interaction with Advani with the help of George Fernandes that paved the way for Musharraf-Vajpayee summit in Agra. Media and the Congress pronounced Advani guilty when the summit failed. The real culprit, Musharraf, tried to make amends later by inviting Advani to his country. And the hardliner, as he is presented before the nation, tried to use the visit to make the BJP acceptable to Muslim voters. Short-sighted Sangh Parivar spoiled the Advani plan. That is a different story. In the present context, what is pertinent is that symbolism or ideological prescriptions have limited shelf-life. Also, Nitish Kumar would not like to be reminded that the 'iron man', as the deputy prime minister of the NDA Sarkar, did not visit Gujarat immediately after it was engulfed in post-Godhra fire. George Fernandes did. He went around the affected areas at great personal risk. It was said at that time the visit was undertaken at the behest of Advani, who represented Gandhinagar. Two other examples: As a post-Emergency phenomenon, the Sangh Parivar has become a force in a pocket of Kerala to such an extent that it can tilt the electoral outcome. The Marxists have been doing business with the Parivar in that district even as they go to town firing at them on all cylinders. The National Front government survived because the Marxists willingly allowed the BJP as a crutch. Much earlier, during the first phase of coalition politics in the country, Comrades were part of the governments which had Jan Sangh as an alliance partner in full public view in Bihar, for instance. Nearer home, we have the example of NTR's daughter joining the Congress and vowing to fight for the values her father stood for; NTR's son-in-law took the TDP into the NDA-fold after a stint as the convener of the United Front which was formed to thwart the saffron threat to secular India. Yes, more than Chandrababu Naidu, it is the BJP that deserves to be congratulated on the feat. Because, it created the NDA by keeping aside its core planks that range from Ayodhya issue to a common civil code, and became acceptable to the socialists and Mandalites. So it has the ability to reinvent itself in the unfolding game of glorious uncertainties. If it wants to remain relevant, of course! (The writer can be reached at email@example.com)