Debating India

IT’s all Greek for the Bharatiya Jung Party

Tuesday 9 November 2004

NEW DELHI: That civil war within the Bharatiya Janata Party that its new president Lal Kishan Advani is desperately trying to quell is not just about the two camps of Uma Bharati and Pramod Mahajan fighting for their place in the sun.

It is probably the most visible face of a larger Indian scenario: the battle between technology and grand old men who ridicule the laptop culture.

According to BJP sources, Bharati’s outbursts against Mahajan and her recent tantrums have the signature of her long time friend Govindacharya, the man once much in demand in BJP for his memory and versatile network among the Sangh cadres.

During the election times, Govindacharya would reel of statistics on each and every constituency of India, its leaders, its caste composition etc, almost like a computer.

But he wasn’t the computer. And those were the old days.

As the Atal Behari Vajpayee government boosted the IT revolution into India through BPOs, laptops and handheld devices that do more than just make phone calls, BJP too witnessed the emergence of a new generation of leaders.

The brigade was under the command of Pramod Mahajan, journalist-turned-politician who converted BJP headquarters into a high-tech office of laptops, LAN, coded communications, SMS hub and other possible technological innovations.

The BJP started sending out its confidential messages to states through encrypted, secure communication networks, its members, not necessarily of Govindacharya stature, were reeling off statistics from their laptops.

Invitations to media were sent out in SMS, Vajpayee’s voice was on your phone. It was the most organised technology assault of the average Indian voter in history.

Govindacharya, meanwhile, was facing the wrath of Vajpayee and decided to take a sabbatical to study the impact of globalisation on Indian rural areas.

His results, whatever they may have been, were reflected in Uma Bharati’s Madhya Pradesh government, which focussed on rural economy, tried to promote cows, milk and other rural possibilities.

As Govindacharya and other RSS-loyalists went off the radar, Mahajan’s laptop gang took over the party’s election machinery.

But the laptop culture did not yield BJP its results in the elections. The old school leaders such as JP Mathur and others were quick to criticise Mahajan’s IT culture.

Sources in the party point out that the present offensive by Bharati, prompted by Govindacharya, may in fact succeed in replacing the laptop culture - and bring back Govindachrya school of party functioning, where the veterans would reel of statistics and names from their much-jogged memory.

The Uma Bharati culture, party insiders admit, seem to have the blessings of the RSS top brass.

Mahajan has already admitted, to his own disadvantage, that the laptop image and culture that he cultivated may not have helped the party.

Bharati’s attacks on Mahajan have been publicly based on his attempt to scuttle her yatra during last Maharashtra elections.

But behind her camp’s well-orchestrated attack there is a definite Govindacharya signature. And that is the assault of the old-Indian-brain against the IT geeks.

Mahajan and his pro-IT lobby have already lost most battles. But it is yet to be seen who wins the war.

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0