By Malladi Rama Rao
L’affaire NaMo will continue to hog the headlines for a while. We cannot help it but if anyone thinks that the race for the post of Prime Minister in 2014 is a two-horse race, well, he or she is mistaken. It is, indeed, going to be a three-leg race with Mulayam Singh Yadav determined to realise his dream of at least an overnight stay at 7 Race Course Road in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi. The Third Front and the Saffron Front are willing to help him just as they helped Vishwanath Pratap Singh once in the past by gifting to the nation the politics of National Front.
This is the message that comes loud and clear from the Jat belt which was on fire for the past week in Western Uttar Pradesh. Ajit Singh is the uncrowned king of the area, thanks to the legacy of his father Chaudhry Charan Singh; he has his own dreams of ruling Haritha Pradesh. Naturally the de jure Jat King, and the Congress are upset with the Yadav. And they are walking the extra mile to denounce him as the Modi of UP. What does it convey? It shows that consistency is not the preferred virtue in Indian politics.
In fact, both Ajit Singh and Congress have elevated this virtue to a fine art over the years with their short term games and eagerness to befriend anyone who fits the bill of the day. So much so, to accuse Mulayam and the BJP of match fixing is neither here nor there, more so when secularism that is popped up before the media has come to mean differently to different people at different times.
Yes, what is happening in the BJP is also different, and indeed, something that goes against the tag line – we are a party with a difference. The loser is L K Advani, the person who had built the party as a force to be reckoned with on the national scene. Some may say it is Jana Krishna Murthy curse; some others may say it is Bangaru Laxman’s curse.
For the uninitiated, Jana is a Tambrahm steeped in RSS ideology and he worked with Advani for long years initially in the Jana Sangh and later on in its BJP avatar. He went on to become the BJP president and a Minister in the NDA government. And when the Delhi Durbar was baying for his blood seeing him as an obstacle, he looked to Advani for some support but was cold shouldered. He died a dejected man. The script was different in Laxman’s story but the end result was the same with some contribution from a garrulous Telugu bidda, who had won his BJP spurs through street smart politics.
It is tempting to say that Advani’s fall is because of Jinnah’s curse. Having reinvented the secularism of Pakistan’s founder, he should have stuck to his guns but by yielding to the RSS, he had frittered away two opportunities
One of widening the BJP base beyond Hindutva, which he had invented to bring the party on the centre stage.
Two of helping India and Pakistan to live in happiness glossing over their bitter past.
Some of us expected him to walk the talk since he was the unacknowledged architect of Vajpayee’s Pakistan policy that had paved the way for Agra summit with then Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf. He did not, and allowed himself to be pushed into a corner by the likes of Tagodias and Singhals of the Parivar who cannot look beyond their nose.
Advani’s fall highlights the flip-side of Durbar politics. Anant Kumar Hegde is an acknowledged Advani loyalist. His single minded obsession to become Chief Minister had received ample support from Advani and this had led to the rout of the party in Karnataka. Yet, he is among the first to desert his mentor and has since become the cheerleader of NaMo. So is Venkaiah Naidu.
The Telugu and Kannada biddas may have valid reasons for their change of heart. It is also possible that both, like the Bihar Modi (Sushil Kumar Modi), believe that Advani is a yesterday man. But both know that Advani is, in the words of a Left commentator, an old fox. You cannot deny him the basic understanding of the Indian voter. It is this ability that gives some validity to his objections to the coronation of NaMo as BJP’s crown prince.
Vasundhara Rajae, who hopes to stage a comeback in Rajasthan’s power corridor, shares his concerns. And did not allow NaMo to hog the limelight at the recent Jaipur rally though he was billed as the star attraction, and, in fact, the rally was part of his nation-wide hops. She ensured that the rally’s focus was fixed on her alone. Vasundhara is the BJP satrap of Rajasthan, and like in good old Moghul days, the satrap, while paying obeisance to Delhi, doesn’t like interference in day-to-day business.
L’affaire NaMo will remain a classic case study in remote control politics. Also in inner party democracy. The Communist parties are known to allow wide ranging debates on issues but these mostly remain behind the red curtain.
The Congress has become one person party over the past forty years; as successive AICC sessions showed, debate has few takers in the Grand Old Party and everyone is content with the theme of the day from 10 Janpath that is delivered by the party managers. Yes, the party stages shows of internal dissent for a limited purpose for a limited time, like the protests staged by Telangana MPs first and the Seema Andhra MPs later on the floor of Parliament. Practitioners of these Congress shows and their audience know the limitations of the visual treat.
The BJP is no different despite its claims to hold regular party elections and regular meetings of its executive. The 24×7 television to a large extent and L K Advani to certain extent, have changed the rules of the game in a manner of speaking.