Debating India

BJP’s crisis widens and deepens

Tuesday 23 August 2005

The more the Bharatiya Janata Party tries to stamp out the flames engulfing its house, the fiercer they seem to grow. Madan Lal Khurana’s suspension from the party following his contrived show of rebellion is hardly an earth-shaking development.

The problem is that it comes on the heels of a series of debilitating crises for the party and its embattled leadership. The BJP’s image was already in tatters from the warfare between Lal Krishna Advani and the Sangh Parivar. Today, factional quarrels have become the norm in the State units. For Mr. Advani, facing unrelenting sniper attacks from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, this is a challenge like no other. The anti-Narendra Modi campaign has reached a peak in Gujarat, with Keshubhai Patel and company taking their grievances to leaders big and small. Characteristically, Uma Bharti has opened two fronts simultaneously - against Chief Minister Babulal Gaur in Madhya Pradesh and against Team Advani in Delhi: in Bhopal her supporters are baying for Mr. Gaur’s blood while in Delhi she has fired a salvo at Sushma Swaraj for her unqualified support to the Women’s Reservation Bill. In Jharkhand, Ajun Munda is hanging on to his chair precariously thanks to dissidence bolstered by Yashwant Sinha’s open attack on the Chief Minister. Whether it is Mr. Patel seeking Mr. Modi’s removal or Mr. Khurana suddenly discovering his `secular’ roots or Ms. Bharti agitating for `sub-reservation’ in the women’s quota Bill, the malcontents are clearly working to a plan - aided by an RSS determined to mount pressure on the BJP chief before the upcoming Chennai meet of the party’s national executive.

The situation is rich in irony. Hardly two months ago, Mr. Advani was pilloried for praising Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s August 1947 vision of a secular Pakistan. The hysterical charge against him was that he had wilfully deviated from the party’s core ideology of Hindutva. Today he finds himself in the dock for standing by Mr. Modi, the man once hailed by party and parivar as Hindutva’s shining mascot. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which stood shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Modi during the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom, has joined the fight against the Chief Minister. As for Mr. Khurana: post-Jinnah, he dashed off an angry letter to Mr. Advani accusing him of "ruthlessly shredding the party’s time-tested ideology" and demanded his resignation as party chief and as Leader of the Opposition. Today the disgruntled war horse is a champion of `secularism’. The letter that triggered the former Rajasthan Governor’s suspension asked Mr. Advani to remove the "taint" of the "shameful Gujarat carnage" by following the inspiring example of Manmohan Singh who apologised for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and showed the door to Jagdish Tytler. Mr. Khurana showed not the slightest remorse when Mr. Modi and the forces of genocidal fury were on the rampage. What of Mr. Advani? Presented with an opportunity to prove that his Jinnah-appreciation was no flash in the pan, he chose to shower praise on Mr. Modi. Ideology, did you say?

See online : The Hindu

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