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The BJP’s Dissenters

The BJP’s Dissenters

Jaswant Singh’s expulsion is sending shockwaves, but he is not the first to have left the BJP under a cloud. NEHA DIXIT meets the other rebels

‘The Very Rationale Of The BJP’s Existence As A Political Party Is Being Questioned’

Quit in 2003, now an RSS ideologue
Did the RSS want Jaswant Singh out of the BJP?
Not at all. The RSS had no role. The BJP used Mohan Bhagwat’s interview to defend his expulsion. Jaswant Singh does not understand the grammar and dynamics of the BJP-RSS relationship. He also made a fuss and accused the RSS.
Do you believe that Jaswant Singh’s expulsion was called for?
The destiny of a worker should not be decided over a cup of tea. This casual, shabby tackling of the issue does not suit a political party like the BJP, which is supposed to be mature.
What made you quit the BJP and what are the party’s main problems?
Ideology and idealism are missing. The BJP has degenerated into a party of power-hungry candidates. Instead of an instrument for social transformation, it has degenerated into an electoral machine.
The party suddenly appears confused about its own identity?
There is an identity as well as an existential crisis. The very rationale of the BJP’s existence as a political party is being questioned. If they are to exist as a replica of the Congress, then what is the point of a separate existence?
Does the party miss Vajpayee?
After the retirement of Atalji, Advaniji started calling the shots and the problem was aggravated. However, Atalji and Advaniji are identical in their thoughts.
Do you see the BJP being hijacked by a coterie culture?
The BJP has forgotten that the democratisation of the party is the prerequisite for the democratisation of governance. Lack of dialogue and lack of trust led to Vasundhara Raje’s insistence on not resigning. The eroded moral authority of the leadership has also contributed to this.
Has the scope of dissent reduced?
Until 1996, dissent used to enrich discussions and facilitate collective decisions. In 1997, the whole process was bid goodbye. There was a vichaaar baithak in 1997 to decide on the code of conduct and the style of functioning of its leaders. The report never saw the light of day. That was the last such meeting. In 2005, a document, called ‘Task Ahead’ was made, but it has not been presented in the last four years, even though they unnecessarily continue having chintan baithaks year after year.
How has the present crisis in the BJP percolated down to its cadres?
The expulsion of Jaswant Singh has damaged the confidence of the average worker. They want to know what constitutes indiscipline. The Sangh cadre is watching from the distance and is a bit sad too.
Is the RSS changing under Mohan Bhagwat’s leadership?Lenin once said it will take a long time to appreciate a personal situation and a still longer time to express it. So let us see.
The RSS Should Tell The BJP To Follow Its Ideology Or Get Lost’
SHANKARSINH VAGHELA, 69Expelled in 1996, now in Congress
You were expelled from the BJP for revolting against a coterie led by Keshubhai Patel in Gujarat. Is Jaswant Singh’s expulsion the work of a lobby too?
Coteries keeps changing. A set of people lobbied against Jaswant Singh because he did not agree with their personal ideologies and agendas. A senior politician, Jaswant was next to Vajpayee. He is an intellectual, a think tank. This incident has forced the entire country to question the BJP’s existence as a national party. If they can expel Jaswant Singh, then they should expel Advani, too.
When did you decide you had had enough of the BJP?
There is something called self-respect. We are not bonded labour. We are tied to the party ideology. Keshubhai realises what he did and now tells me he is going through the same. Advaniji was a partner in this so it has started happening with him also. History repeats itself.
Has there always been an absence of internal democracy in the BJP?
The BJP is becoming autocratic. Advani should resign from the post of Leader of the Opposition and should continue working as a senior member of the party and as an MP. The BJP is undergoing an identity crisis. The Congress authorises Sonia Gandhi to take decisions but the BJP doesn’t even have that system. The members fight through the media towards expelling the ones they don’t like.
The party seems to be going through anideological crisis.
The BJP is basically power-oriented, even when it wants to send out the message that it’s not. In the Lok Sabha elections this year, the BJP introduced a new word ‘PM-in-waiting’. It’s like the waiting list in the Railways. This hunger for becoming PM is like a joke. Moreover, now the same person is the PM-inwaiting for 2014 also. Why don’t they name another candidate for 2014? What is their ideology? Hindutva has become a joke.
Will Rajnath Singh go down as the man who destroyed the BJP?This is an internal matter and it is not correct to comment on it. However, he is remote controlled by the RSS.
To what extent does the RSS control the BJP?
Both Vajpayee and Advani were from the hard-core cadre of the Sangh. Despite that, the Sangh could not control them. When the Sangh started realising this, they should have abandoned them. At present, the Sangh can neither leave them nor disown them. So there is a crisis of identity in the BJP. The RSS too is confused. Their principles were: no self-promotion and simple living, high thinking. But high publicity, high living, negative thinking and personalised thinking have become a prominent feature in the BJP. Can’t the RSS see it? All of them are fake, the masses can see it.
What is the solution to revive the party?
Power doesn’t suit the BJP. They can’t digest power and defeat. The RSS should once again come forward with their ideology and say that if the BJP doesn’t follow it, thenit should get lost.
‘The BJP Is In The Process Of Becoming Talibanised’
Quit in 2006, now JVM President
What is the one main issue that is ailing the BJP?
I was with the party for 10 years and the scope for freedom of speech in the party decreased with each passing year. The BJP is in a process of Talibanisation. What they did to Jaswant Singh is a clear example. India has always been a country of various opinions. People can have individual opinions independent of their parties. If the BJP is shutting down the scope for debates and discussions, it’s surely proceeding towards its death.
Has the party always been dictatorial or was this caused by the change of leadership from Vajpayee to Advani?
Dictatorship has always existed in the BJP. Only individuals have changed. The style of operation remains the same. Across history, leaders who have propagated different theories, be it Karl Marx or Sunder Lal Bahuguna, have also lived up to their teachings. They incorporated them in their lives. Unfortunately, in the BJP, members have great idols, but don’t practise the teachings in their politics.
Do you see an ideological crisis?
The BJP’s ideology is very conservative and does not fit into contemporary times. For example, I may be a believer of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideologies, but I can’t imitate all that he did 100 years ago. BJP is still caught in this trap. It does not wish to attempt to mould itself according to the current times.
Does the party only give space to believers of insular Hindutva?
I have always personally believed that a political party should only confine ourselves to the role of ‘praja paalak’. The moment we become Hindus or Muslims, our capability to be neutral is gone. We are biased and defy our offices. The BJP chose to be Hindu and paid in the elections for defying its janta.
Is the BJP hijacked by identity politics?
This is why I eventually resigned. I realised that individual goals and identity politics are supreme in the BJP. I was forced to resign as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand in 2002 because of Arjun Munda and his coterie. This included Lal Chand Mahto and Madhu Singh. I was asked to hand over ‘malaidaar’ (lucrative) portfolios to specific people. I couldn’t handle this kind of corruption. The leaders in the central leadership like Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar and Rajnath Singh knew this. But they did not intervene.
Do you think the BJP needs a younger leadership, as the RSS has demanded? 
Any leader must have the capability to meet 200 people every day and travel 300 kms a day to actually work for his party and the masses. As long as Advaniji has that much of physical capacity, he can continue.
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 35, Dated September 05, 2009
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