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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 48 New Delhi, November 21, 2015

The Fall of the Tinsel God

Saturday 21 November 2015, by Rajindar Sachar

How the mighty have fallen fits in completely with the rout of the BJP in the recently held elections to the Bihar Assembly! To any analyst it looked that it was going to be a close fight —it is no hidden secret that progressive forces in the country like academics, writers and social activists, who were passive at the start, were forced to be active as the real face of the BJP through its boss, the RSS, emerged threatening the very core values guaranteed by Indian Constitution, and thus posing a danger to the integrity of the country.

Jayaprakash Narayan, the Socialist leader, had as far back as 1965 given the warning. He said: “Some like the RSS might do it openly by identifying the Indian nation with Hindu Rashtra, others might do it more subtly.” JP warned that “those who attempt to equate India with Hindus.....are in reality enemies of Hinduism itself and Hindus, as they weaken and sunder the fabric of the nation”. He had also pointed out that the cow was never considered a sacred animal even during the early Vedic period of the Hindus.

The silence of the Prime Minister at the complicity of BJP members in participating and encouraging attacks on Muslims at Attali (Haryana) and Dadri (UP) created a massive revulsion against the BJP.

Such was the low level of falsehood and hypocrisy at projecting the issue of beef to target the Muslims when the reality was entirely different. This has been exposed by a study done by a research centre thus: “Muslims are earning peanuts as against the general perception about the trade, and it is actually the government and non-Muslims who are benefiting the most from the $ 4.5 billion animal slaughter business. Except for direct consum-ption, in which case both Muslims and non-Muslims are at par in terms of consuming beef, all associated business, including meat export, bone-crushing and powder industry, leather and horn processing industries, blood processing, animal fat and soap industry, are dominated entirely by non-Muslims.”

The BJP is trying to lower the impact of this defeat by saying that it will not in any way affect the position and popularity of its leader, Modi. How self-serving and false! Even a day before the counting, a senior Minister of the Central Cabinet was openly downgrading the exit polls and stating that they were absolutely sure that women have voted in large numbers because they have confidence in Prime Minister Modi’s leadership and promise of development.

Some BJP apologists may try to distinguish the voting pattern at the Centre and States as being influenced by different considerations. It is true that in earlier elections Prime Ministers may have participated in State elections; but no other Prime Minister had canvassed as Modi did whole time for the State as if he was competing to become the State Chief Minister. No, the public will not buy the party apologists’ plea that the blame, if any, is of the party, because this flies in the face of the BJP’s whole-time propaganda that was to ask for vote because of Prime Minister Modi’s alleged sweep of development plans which were supposedly for the masses but were unashamedly corporate-friendly.

As it is, Modi has not enhanced his stature by the way of functioning of the Central governance. Even pro-Modi enthusiasts now concede that the working of the Central Government in the matter of enunciating policies on important matters is nowhere to be seen. Decision-making is centralised in the PMO, with unpardonable delays. Even the corporate sector, which was the strongest supporter of Modi, is having second thoughts at the functioning of the Modi Government due to its divisive policies—to cap it all, the Moody Rating Agency’s public criticism of this communally surcharged atmosphere created by Modi’s inaction in restraining his State satraps shows that the impact of the loss of the Bihar will further seriously cause damage to the credibility of the Modi Government.

In my view, immense thanks for the defeat of the BJP are due to the unexplainable conduct of Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS leader, pontifically declaring that the reservation policy needs to be reconsidered. It is still a mystery how such obviously damaging statement against the interest of the BJP could be made by the RSS chief—could it be the danger to Brahmanical supremacy being captured by a lower caste man that took precedence over everything else? Let us not forget that Modi is from a backward caste. I cannot find any other rational explanation for such a high blunder.

A slavish kind of excuse for the loss by the BJP is being forwarded by the loyalists of the party that the victory or loss of elections should be attributed to the party and not personally to Modi. This is the limit of hypocrisy. The landslide victory in Parliament and even in State elections was attributed to Modi both in Maharashtra and Haryana when no one can deny that in both States the BJP as a party was a poor third. If success in those States was legitimately given to Modi’s image, how can different criteria be applied to the present loss in Bihar.

The biggest self-inflicted damage to the BJP is its placing Modi on to the pedestal of a semi-god, who, it is imagined, will alone take the party into a march of victory. Such an approach is suicidal in a democracy as propounded in the impeccable warning given by Dr Ambedkar: “The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not ‘to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions’. There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered lifelong services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. For, in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unlike in any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But, in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.” (Emphasis added)

People have given an extraordinary oppor-tunity to Nitish and Laloo. It is expected that they will continue their sagacity and mutual accommodation. This is the least they owe to the masses of Bihar, who have put their trust in them.

The author, a retired Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, was the Chairperson of the Prime Minister’s high-level Committee on the Status of Muslims and the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing. A former President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), he is a tireless champion of human rights. He can be contacted at e-mail: rsachar1@vsnl.net/rsachar23 @bol.net.in