| 13 November, 2015
The mighty have fallen and the denouement fits perfectly with the rout of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recent elections to the Bihar Assembly. To any analyst it had appeared as though it was going to be a close fight; it is no secret that progressive forces represented by academics, writers and social activists, who were initially passive, were compelled to be active with the emergence of the real face of the BJP through its leader - the RSS. This has threatened the very core values guaranteed by the Constitution, thus posing a danger to the country’s integrity.
Jayaprakash Narayan, the Socialist leader, had as far back as 1965 warned - “Some like the RSS might do it openly by identifying the Indian nation with Hindu Rashtra, others might do it more subtly. Those who attempt to equate India with Hindus are in reality enemies of Hinduism itself and Hindus, as they weaken and sunder the fabric of the nation”. He had also pointed out that the cow was never considered a sacred animal even during the early Vedic period of the Hindus.
The silence of the Prime Minister at the complicity of party members in participating and encouraging attacks on Muslims at Attali (Haryana) and Dadri (UP) created a massive revulsion against the BJP.
Noticeable was the low level of falsehood and hypocrisy at projecting the issue of beef to target Muslims when the reality was entirely different. This has been exposed by a study conducted by Research Centre - “Muslims are earning peanuts as against the general perception about the trade, and it is actually the government and non-Muslims who are benefiting the most from the $ 4.5 billion animal slaughter business. Except for direct consumption, in which case both Muslims and non-Muslims are at par in terms of consuming beef, all associated business including meat export, bone-crushing and powder industry, leather and horn-processing industries, blood-processing, animal fat and soap industry are dominated entirely by non-Muslims”.
The BJP is trying to lessen the impact of this defeat by saying that it will not affect the position and popularity of its leader, Narendra Modi. How self-serving and false. Even a day before counting, a senior Minister of the Central Cabinet had publicly downgraded exit polls, stating that they were absolutely sure that women had voted in large numbers because they had confidence in Prime Minister Modi’s leadership and promise of development.
Some BJP apologists might try to distinguish the voting pattern at the Centre and the States as being influenced by different considerations. It is true that in earlier elections, Prime Ministers may have associated themselves with State elections. However, no other Prime Minister had canvassed as did Modi in Bihar; it was almost as if he was in competition to become the State’s Chief Minister. The people may not accept the plea advanced by apologists.
The BJP’s spirited propaganda sought a vote for the Prime Minister’s touted development plans which were supposedly for the masses, but were unabashedly corporate-friendly. Modi has not enhanced his stature in terms of national governance. Even his supporters concede that the functioning of the Central government in the matter of enunciating policies on important matters is not suitably visible. Decision-making is centralized in the PMO and as often as not with unpardonable delay.
Even the corporate sector, which was the strongest supporter of Modi, is reflecting on the functioning of the Government and its divisive policies. To cap it all, Moody’s public criticism of this communally surcharged atmosphere created by the Prime Minister’s inaction in restraining his state satraps shows that the debacle in Bihar will erode the credibility of the Modi government further still.
My compliments to the people for the defeat of the BJP, which is due primarily to the inexplicable conduct of the RSS leader, Mohan Bhagwat, most particularly his assertion that the reservation policy needs to be reconsidered. It is still a mystery how such an obviously damaging statement - against the interest of the BJP - could be made by the RSS chief. Could it be the danger to Brahmanical supremacy being captured by lower castes? Let us not forget that Modi belongs to a backward caste. I cannot find any other rational explanation for such utter tactlessness.
A slavish sort of an excuse has been advanced by BJP loyalists. They claim that victory or defeat in an election should be attributed to the party... and not personally to Modi. This is the limit of hypocrisy. The landslide victory in Parliament and even in State elections was attributed to Modi both in Maharashtra and Haryana. No one can deny that in both States, the BJP as a party was a poor third. If success in those States was legitimately given to Modi’s image, how can different criteria be applied to the drubbing in Bihar. The BJP has suffered a self-inflicted wound by placing Modi on a lofty pedestal of semi-god, who alone can lead the party in any march towards victory. That delusion can be suicidal in a democracy when contextualised with Dr BR Ambedkar’s warning - “The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not ‘to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions’.
“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered lifelong service to the country. But there are limits to gratitude. For, in India, bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unlike in any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But, in politics, bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”
The people have given an extraordinary opportunity to Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad. It is expected that they will govern Bihar with sagacity and a spirit of mutual accommodation. This is the least they owe to the masses, who have put their trust in them.
The above is by Rajinder Sachar in The Statesman