(This article was written after the defeat of the BJP in the Bihar Assembly election. I wonder if the BJP has learnt any lesson. If it has not, it is strengthening its opponents.)
Yes, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has done it again.
In an article written on February 9, 2015 after Delhi assembly election, I had written that ‘BJP was defeated by RSS.’ My logic was that Delhi RSS volunteers did not feel enthusiastic to bring voters to polling booths for the victory of the local BJP under the leadership of Kiran Bedi, a rank outsider. Subsequently I heard from many voters in Delhi that at several places the RSS volunteers had campaigned against the BJP candidates because of Kiran Bedi.
Today also I am saying that in Bihar the BJP has been defeated by the RSS. At least, the RSS appears to be the main cause but in Bihar the credit should not go to the RSS volunteers. It should go to the RSS leadership. In an article written on October 19, 2015 (“If BJP loses in Bihar”), I had estimated that the BJP + may get simple majority. That has gone totally wrong but I had also raised an important question: “What could be the possible causes if BJP still fails to get simple majority and if that happens who are the persons to be held responsible?” I had given a list of persons who should be held responsible. On the top of the list I had mentioned RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. The veterinary doctor turned RSS thinker chose the worst time to suggest review of the constitutional provisions for reservation in government jobs. Incorporated by the Constitution makers as a purely temporary measure, political compulsions have not only made it permanent (so it seems at present) but significantly widened the scope. Reservations in government jobs provide hope to the vast majority of the backward castes and Dalits. No political party can survive without supporting cast-based reservations.
By his uncalled for statement Mohan Bhagwat alienated vast majority of the people who are still deprived and who hope to benefit from reservation and made the task of Nitish and Laloo easier. Prime Minister Modi’s high-pitched assurance that he would sacrifice his life for the sake of reservations could not undo the damage Mohan Bhagwat had done.
As if that was not enough, the RSS kept on shouting from the top of the house that there was need to control the growth of Muslim population without realising that there is need to control population of the country, irrespective of who follows which religion. Nor does the RSS realise that the population growth cannot be controlled by targeting one community or by passing resolutions. Such moves only make people angry.
The trouble with the RSS is that it does not want to be known just as the parent body of the BJP. It wants the BJP to be known as its progeny. It behaves like a parent who thinks that unless regularly disciplined the progeny will get spoilt and deviate from the parent’s high ideals. The RSS does not want the BJP to grow as a pure political party with its own identity and ideology.
Modi is an RSS man with a difference. For him, development and modernisation of India get priority over the traditional RSS agenda. However, he works under two constraints, one external and the other internal.
The external constraint is of course the RSS which keeps on reminding him of his roots and his dependence on the RSS support. So he has to listen to what the old colleagues and masters say. His efforts to minimise the damage caused by the RSS are not very successful.
The internal constraint is provided by Modi himself. As I had mentioned in my October article, when he addresses political meetings, he is swayed by emotions and utters words which he should not. He did so during Lok Sabha election in 2014 and did so more emphatically and unnecessarily during his campaign in Bihar. Nitish and Laloo used Modi’s own loose utterances against him and seems to have succeeded in downplaying his development agenda.
Loose cannons of the BJP like Sakshi Maharaj, Yogi Adityanath and Sangeet Singh Som who think that they are protecting the Hindu religion from all its impurities and evil influences also provided sufficient ammunition to Nitish and Laloo. They think that by giving statements on beef eating they are doing a great service to the Hindus without realizing that most of the Hindus are very tolerant. Whatever their personal views, most of the Hindus do not beat their chest in public to protest against the beef eating. Neither the RSS nor these fellows are ready to realise that most of the Hindus want to keep politics separate from religion. Had it not been so, most of the Hindus would have joined the RSS and the BJP. India is a secular country because most of the Hindus are secular minded. Neither the RSS nor these fellows are mature enough to realise that their agenda is very damaging to the BJP and the country.
As all commentators on election rsults would write, the results are going to have far-reaching consequences. On one excuse or the other, the rejuvenated opposition will not allow the Parliament to function. During the last Parliament session it was land bill. In the next session it may be the so-called intolerance.
Laloo has once again established himself as Leader No. 1 of Bihar. Laloo and his sons, Tejaswi Yadav in particular, must be the happiest persons today, happier than Nitish Kumar who will now have to depend heavily on Laloo for remaining in power. Laloo's victory has proved that at least in Bihar corruption is not a big issue; it is considered quite natural.
Young Tejaswi Yadav has proved prophetic. On November 5 he had told the Times of India that “we are completely sweeping the elections – BJP is going to lose very badly.” He had also declared that “Laluji will be Nitish’s guardian in Bihar – after defeating BJP, Laluji will head to Delhi.” Surely, Laloo will work very hard to damage Modi’s image to replace him in Delhi. In his efforts, he is likely to get full support of the Congress and all others who cannot hope to do that on their own. The ban imposed on Laloo from contesting elections is only a temporary setback.
On the other hand, there is every danger that the RSS and the likes of Sakshi Maharaj would try to create impression that the BJP has lost because it did not listen to them and will thereby do more damage to Modi and the BJP. Mod's detractors within the party would be very happy and join hands to censure him and his style of functioning. Briefly, the likes of Sakshi Maharaj as well as all those who are angry that they have been sidelined by Modi will be very happy that here is a golden opportunity to pursue their agenda and settle scores.
In such a scenario, the only hope is Modi himself. Despite all his internal constraints, he is still the best leader this country has or ever had. He can still rescue his own image and the image of his party. The loss of Bihar is not the end of the road. Several states will go to polls before the next Lok Sabha election. If Modi wants to make India a modern developed country, he has to find ways and means to rein in the RSS as well as the loose cannons. He has to make them realise that his defeat in the next Lok Sabha election would also mean decline of the RSS as well as the BJP. The BJP would not be able to regain power for a very long time.
Modi must do introspection to avoid the criticism that during election campaigns he does not maintain the highest standard expected of a national leader and a Prime Minister.
May be, Modi and his fans would not like what I have written. I would advise them to remember the words of Sant Kabir: “निन्दक नियरे राखिये, आंगन कुटी छवाय, बिन पानी-साबुन बिना, निर्मल करे सुभाय”
November 8, 2015
For more articles by Devendra Narain, visit naraindevendra.blogspot.com
Arvind Kejriwal has got a new friend in his 'fight' against (or for?) corruption. Experienced Laloo will teach him know-how.