During the Pre-Babri masjid demolition period, I was having a discussion with my collegues about the 'political tactics' of the Bharatiya Janata Party, then a freshly emerging party on the national scene. Anupama (my editor), explained that the Rath Yatra would make the BJP very popular and earn for it a lot of votes, but they would definitely stop short of demolishing the Masjid.
On December 6th 1992, some Kar-Sevaks proved Anupama wrong.
Post-demolition, Anupama and her friends explained that all 'the demolition business' was an 'election gimmick' and the BJP wouldn't dare resort to such acts once in power. They said that the weight of 'national responsibility' would descend on the shoulders of the BJP and they would 'rule the country' with a discipline and austerity that the RSS is known for.
Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad goons have been proving her wrong for over a year now. And what is our Prime Minister doing all the while?
There is, in the minds of some people today, a perception that the Bharatiya Janata Party is being caught and held responsible for the communal attacks and the atrocities being committed by the other 'fringe elements' of the Sangh Parivar. In other words, it is being said that the BJP's goodwill and ideals of helping the long-suppressed Hindu identity express itself is being 'exploited' by some lumpen elements in the Sangh Parivar and the BJP is being asked to pay the price for it.
Is this true?
No, it is not. In a previous article, (An ugly core and its shell, why the Sangh behaves the way it does) I had contended that all members of the Sangh Parivar will behave alike in matters of religion since the Sangh is a religion-driven unit and to behave in a manner contrary to Sangh ideology would only mean blasphemy.
How can the BJP act contrary to the wishes of the Sangh Parivar when it utilized the Sangh network to demolish the Babri, campaign for elections and use the enormous resources of the Sangh to finally 'capture' power at the Center? And more importantly, how can the Bharatiya Janata Party act against the Sangh Parivar when the fundamental ideological convictions of the BJP and the Sangh are the same? It cannot. It will not. Feeling pity and remorse for the 'poor BJP' which is caught in the 'tentacles of communal forces' is akin to blaming the venom and letting the snake go.
But it is by these shreds of pity, accorded to it by Indians who have been innocently generous with it, that the BJP survives today.
Vajpayee, for all the political wisdom and the universal acceptability that he is known for, is too busy a man to grasp this small truth. Much has been made of his 'moderate' face and 'liberal outlook'. It is only now, after the recent attacks on the Christians in Gujarat and the Bal Thackeray cricket-matches episode, that the true face of the 'moderate' Vajpayee is visible for all to see.
Vajpayee is none but a Sanghist, he is 'moderate' only to the extent that he holds the same ideals of the Sangh in a milder form. If Bajrang Dal activists are out to poison your body and soul with communal hatred, Vajpayee merely proposes to stain your shirt with it. If Ashok Singhal and Pravin Togadia are full-fledged Christian-haters, Vajpayee is a mini-Christian-hater. If Ashok Singhal is Godzilla, Vajpayee is a gremlin. The 'moderation' of Vajpayee is only in scale, not in substance. So today, when Shiva Sena goons, Bajrang Dal goons and VHP goons are the ones who run the country, all Mr. Vajpayee can do is fine-tune his evasive maneuvers, evading the media questions by mumbling something being shameful and shocked, and evading his own mind about the true designs of the Sangh.
As a pointer to what goes on in Vajpayee's mind, examine the statements made by him over the past few months:
"The BJP does not need sermons on secularism"
"...I am deeply shocked by the incidents in Gujarat"
"...I call for a national debate on the issue of conversions."
"I am very sad"; speaking to VHP activists in Gujarat
"The Gujarat Government has done a laudable job."
"...the incidents have been blown out of proportion."
"The attack on the Australian missionary has brought shame to the nation"
This has been the consistent pattern in the statements issued by the Prime Minister in response to the communal riots and violent acts that the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have successfully made into a daily fixture, a part of everyday life. The series of statements loudly supporting the Sanghists, and some PR-like perfunctionary mumbu-jumbo is all that the the Prime Minister has been able to give.
In his article on the principle of not sanctioning the evil any recognition, Peter Schwartz wrote;
"Evil is not self-sustaining. That which stands defiantly opposed to reality cannot survive on its own. Its enduring existence requires the acquiescence of the good. Existentially, the irrational survives parasitically, by feeding off the rational; intellectually, an irrational idea gains influence fraudulently, by covering itself with a veneer of rationality. (The practice of Marxism, for example, gains material sustenance from the productive free world; the theory of Marxism gains acceptance by declaring that it seeks to eradicate unfair exploitation, not that it desires to impose totalitarian enslavement.) The weapon necessary to defend against evil is justice: the unequivocal identification of the evil as evil. This means the refusal to grant it, by word or by deed, any moral respectability. It is by scrupulously withholding from the irrational even a crumb of a moral sanction — by rejecting any form of accommodation with the irrational — by forcing the irrational to stand naked and unaided — that one keeps evil impotent."But the opposite is what Vajpayee has achieved. Vajpayee, at this critcal juncture, when there is a urgent need to put an end to all the designs of the Sangh Parivar's fringe elements: has put a final stamp of political acceptablilty and prime ministereal authority on the acts of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. When the Sanghists ran amok burning churches down, the PM steps right in to provide the "veneer of rationality" that they seek; he calls for a "national debate on conversions". Instead of exposing the designs of the Sangh to the nation, Vajpayee has stood by it, supporting it and helping it gain the 'respectability' of the PMO.
How does the Prime Minister end up like this? It is precisely his 'moderate-liberal' outlook that has forced him into such a corner. Vajpayee's universal acceptability is because of the fact that he is "mildly pro-Hindu" and "militantly middle". What can, and what will such a man do, when confronted by events like the ones we have seen in Gujarat and the Cricket incident? Judge for yourself.
For Anupama and those who are waiting for the 'weight of national responsibility' to crash down heavily on the BJP's shoulders, I have only one answergive up waiting, it's not going to happen. We all know that Vajpayee is the greatest statesman we have had since Nehru, we know of his immense oratorial skills and admininstrative capabilities. But it is time that Vajpayee stopped evading questions in his mind; and identified clearly, the evil as evil. It's time Vajpayee realized the importance of Vajpayee.