People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 35

August 29, 2004


No One To Weep On BJP’s Fate

 Harkishan Singh Surjeet


IF the Hindustan Times editorial on August 25 says the “BJP has killed three birds with one stone thanks to the Uma Bharti affair,” it will perhaps be more appropriate to say that the party has tried to become clever by half and has further exposed itself in the process. The said editorial’s concluding remark that “chest-thumping patriotism is clearly not a greater need than the everyday concerns of the people” represents in fact a far better understanding of what a common Indian thinks about the BJP’s latest move to feign martyrdom.


The reality is: in a situation when it was finding itself rudderless and unable to think how to rouse the masses against the present dispensation, the recent non-bailable warrant against Ms Uma Bharti came to it just like a straw comes to a drowning man. The BJP has naturally clutched upon it; only that by all indications it will not be able to save itself, not to talk of crossing the river.




HERE are the bare facts of the case. On August 15, 1994, when the BJP was leading a communal agitation at Hubli in Karnataka, Ms Bharti violated the prohibitory orders, moved towards the Idgah Maidan under dispute, tried to hoist the national flag there, and was arrested. Then the saffron brigade started a riot in Hubli, and the subsequent police firing took 6 lives. Ten cases were filed in connection with this agitation. But when the state government decided to withdraw these cases in January 2002, the court allowed it to withdraw only 9. As for the tenth case, between December 2001 and August 2004, warrants were issued 18 times against the sadhvi on charges of murder and “mischief by fire or explosive substance,” but every time she ignored them and avoided to appear in the court --- “presumably because the central government would have protected her.” (One recalls that it was the BJP ruling at the centre during the period mentioned.) It was thus Ms Bharti’s adamant attitude that forced the court to finally issue a non-bailable warrant against her. 


A few points are noteworthy here. First, the dispute over the said maidan was a purely civil dispute, a property dispute, between the Hubli municipal corporation and a Muslim trust. This was a dispute of the kind that is quite common, and there was no politics involved here. Moreover, the dispute was in the Supreme Court by the time the BJP, devoid of any locus standi, took it up for rabble rousing. It is clear that if the law had been allowed to take its course, the dispute could well have been solved in course of time within the administrative-legal framework. Yet the BJP decided to hoist the national flag in Idgah Maidan in a bid to communalise the whole issue in view of the then impending elections in some states. As the editorial in the August 21 issue of People’s Democracy said: “The modus operandi is the same --- energise the communal virus hibernating since the routing of BJP in the latest round of state assembly elections in the Hindi heartland of the country. As the wicked are never found wanting in inventing some excuse to perpetrate the crime --- the BJP this time has propounded the theory that any Indian citizen has the right to hoist the national flag anywhere he or she likes.”


It is thus clear that the Hubli court has acted the same way a court of law would have acted in case an accused had persistently refused to comply with its orders.


The second point to note is that the Hubli court has by no means unduly acted against Ms Bharti or BJP. The court has also rejected the Karnataka government’s plea for reversing the earlier Congress government’s decision to withdraw the cases against Ms Bharti, as it found the petition “defective and bad in law,” though it allowed the state government to move a fresh petition in an appropriate court at an appropriate time. On the other hand, it rejected Ms Bharti’s petition for getting the warrant quashed, on the ground that it was time-barred.  


It is thus evident that the court orders on both petitions have left no ground for the BJP to feign martyrdom. 


And the third and no less important point is that, as the Hindustan Times editorial says, “Ms Bharti’s case has little to do with the defence or, for that matter, love of the national flag.” The fact is her attempt to hoist the national flag in Idgah Maidan was motivated by the desire to foist a communal agenda on the people of the state and the country, and was no indication of the Sangh Parivar’s (non-existent) love for the national flag. If the RSS remembers the Mahatma whom its philosophy of hatred had got killed or if its no-illustrious luminaries seek to hoist the national flag somewhere, it is in fact like the devil quoting the scripture for its purposes.  




THE net result of the latest episode has been that Ms Bharti was compelled to resign from the post of Madhya Pradesh chief minister before going south. Yet, this too was not a simple affair --- that a court issues a warrant and a politician resigns a post. The case came as a welcome opportunity to the BJP whose Madhya Pradesh state unit, like so many state units, is mired in internal squabbles. Using this opportunity, as the Hindustan Times says, the party “has replaced a chief minister who was becoming somewhat of an embarrassment” to it. (The editorial means to say: Ms Bharti was the first of the three birds the BJP killed “by one stone.”) Going by reports, she was reluctant to resign, despite her moral platitudes, and initially sent her resignation letter not to the governor but to party president. Also, her supporters tried to pressurise the party by their mass resignation drama. In the end, in a clumsy patch-up, the BJP was forced to anoint a Bharti protégé as the new chief minister, leaving the internal discontent simmering.


As for Ms Bharti’s announcement to start a so-called tiranga yatra (journey with the tricolour) from Hubli, this is supposed to be beneficial to the sadhvi as well as BJP. While Ms Bharti hopes to regain her lost ground (read: chair) by undertaking the yatra, the party thinks the latter would pull it out of the limbo it currently finds itself in. Yet, there is nothing new in it. Advani, Joshi, Modi and even some small-timers in BJP are fond of undertaking yatras, more so when some election(s) is round the corner. Nay, these yatras have become quite infamous for the communal tension and polarisation they generate. So, if the Hindustan Times says, “it’s not love for the tricolour but the hateful anti-minority agenda of the Sangh Parivar that will propel the coming tiranga yatra,” it is only reiterating what our people strongly feel.


As for the paper’s claim that the BJP “has got additional ammunition for its ‘tainted ministers’ campaign,” the fact is The Times of India editorial on the same day, though more of a homily, is closer to the mark. Commenting on the episode, it said, “This should, hopefully, bring to a close the BJP’s grandstanding over the UPA’s ‘tainted’ ministers: If you’re in a glass house, don’t throw stones.” 


This is the gross result of the episode. Criminalisation of politics is no doubt a very serious problem in our country and must be uprooted at all cost. But, though the BJP made a lot of noise after the Vohra committee recommendations were leaked out, its own ranks remained full of criminals. Whether in UP, Jharkhand, Gujarat or Goa or even at all-India level, the party harboured a number of criminals and put many of them in ministerial gaddis. Nay, the day Ms Bharti put in her papers, a BJP MLA in Gujarat was life sentenced for having murdered a mayor of his own party. Thus it is clear that, what to talk of getting some “additional ammunition,” the BJP has proved itself singularly unable to fight the criminalisation of politics. And this applies no less to Ms Bharti, herself a criminal of the Babri demolition.

And what about Gujarat? If the BJP had been serious regarding moral rectitude, the first and the least it should have done long back was to throw Narendra Modi out --- out of the party and out of chief ministership. This is precisely what it did not do.


YET, all said and done, the whole episode has once again demonstrated the utter lack of an agenda, and of a direction, that is haunting the BJP today. One will recall that if the party was able to increase its votes and its seat tally during 1989-99, it was because it was able to mislead the people with the propaganda blitz that it was a party with a difference, a party of principles. It is another thing that it came to power in March 1998 only with the clutches provided by several parties. However, the party singularly failed to meet the people’s expectations and rush them relief. If anything, its rule only worsened their condition by launching one attack after another on their jobs, incomes and already low life standards.


Moreover, the attacks on minuscule Christians, Gujarat 2002, saffronisation drive, high-level corruption and foreign policy bloomers revealed the BJP regime’s true face. The people now learnt from their own experience that the BJP was not a party of principles, and not a pro-people party anyway. It was rather a highly anti-people party aiming to benefit only Indian and foreign corporates, and other bigwigs.


It was with this realisation that the people gave the BJP a severe drubbing at the hustings this year. This shattered its fond dream of coming back to power and remaining in power for long, as expressed in its tall claim that it would make India a developed country by 2020, implying that it would be ruling unhindered till that time and beyond. But, as the proverb goes, one can fool a few people all the time and all the people a few times but cannot fool all the people all the time. The ‘emperor’ is now standing in front of the people --- without any clothes. 


The fact is that all the moves the BJP has made in the last three months, including the repeated disruptions of parliamentary proceedings or its noises on the textbooks issue, have misfired. They have rather backfired and the party has increasingly lost its prestige among the people.


The latest indication of it came during Ms Bharti’s journey to Hubli. Though the BJP brought some cadres to the railway stations en route to extend welcome to her, the life went on normally everywhere. The people did not take any notice of the so-called heroine during her southward journey, or even of the court order remanding her to judicial custody.


And the single most unmistakable indication of the BJP’s sad plight remains that not a single NDA partner has uttered a single word of sympathy or shed a single drop of tear for it or its latest heroine.


Desperate to the core, the BJP is now trying to push Vajpayee to the forefront, in the hope that his image among the people may help it come out of the wilderness. But the tragedy is that the BJP has got thoroughly cut-off from mass thinking, and is unable to realise that Vajpayee’s image as a statesman, as a moderate or a dove among the hawks, has got thoroughly battered in the last 6 years because of his own prevarications and acrobatics. Also, one will recall that it was the same Vajpayee whom the RSS recently humiliated on the Modi issue. Therefore, while it is certain that Vajpayee won’t be able to breathe a new life into the BJP, the thing worth watching is how much the BJP debases itself and how much Vajpayee’s image further suffers in the coming days.