Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How Right to go?

After my initial post about the election results, here is some analysis.

Well, I guess better writing has been done by the likes of M.J.Akbar, who wrote in this wonderful piece:
The BJP might want to consider a fundamental fact about our country. India is not a secular nation because Indian Muslims want it to be secular. India is a secular nation because Indian Hindus want it to be secular.
A similar PoV comes from this article on offstumped, a right-of-center blog [ref: abi]:
4. Riots have consequences we can no longer be in denial on VHP’s conduct. There has to be accountability for the rot in Orissa.


10. Last but not the least, it would be in complete denial if it did not ask tough questions of how Acts of Adharma in the name of Hindutva have been condoned and the relevance of Hindutva as an ideology to guide on Socio-Economic issues.
Now, I agree that these elections have shown that going extreme right-wing is not the way, and indeed the BJP experts were trying very hard for people to forget that the only thing that their "nidar neta" (fearless leader) had done to show his fearlessness was to whip up religious frenzy and demolish a mosque. However, Varun G served as a big jolt to the people who had begun to lean towards the NDA. Then they said "jab wohi development, wohi corruption, humein riots ke bageir mile, toh koi yeh kyun lein, woh na lein?" (paraphrasing the nirma super ad).

And this brings me to the big question - where does the BJP go from here? Clearly the question they face is very similar to what the republicans in the USA faced after their defeat in 2008. Behind all the explanatory interviews on how this was NOT a big defeat, there was definitely some soul searching going on. The BJP is undoubtedly in a similar situation, and if you see the comments on offstumped, you will see that far-right and the center-right people airing their differences.

I sure hope that their move more to the center in social terms, and work on creating a distinguishing brand for themselves devoid of religious connotations.

However, the thing that bothers me is this:

Unlike the Republicans in USA, who are both economically "and" socially on the right w.r.t the democrats ("tax cuts for the rich" and "no abortions no matter what, because God said so"), the BJP is _only_ socially on the right. Of course, no party can be economically be on the right and win in India.

But that leads to a problem - the desi masses seem to currently be OK with the UPA's economically--center-left and socially-left agenda. The only way that the BJP _can_ differentiate itself (without going economically right) is by going _more_ socially right. Going towards the center will need them to depend on the UPA to fail so that people think of them as the other viable centrist national party, and I think this version of the UPA govt. is more politically shrewd and less bound by 'allies' than the last one.

So, what else _can_ the BJP do but move more to the social/religious right?

P.S. this is not unlike the current US scenario, where being economically right is taboo, thanks to the crisis. As a results, the republicans have resorted to the only possible gambit - go extreme right on social aspects. Not saying it is working, but I can understand their reasons.

P.P.S. On Grover's demand, and to showcase the victory of "let's just do our work and forget about killing our fellows" over intolerance, here is the video of the day:

update post watching the song: Just to be clear, I LOVE the acknowledgment of national achievements and culture part in the lyrics, but disagree with the blatant "everything western is bad" allusion in the video. I especially support Saira Bano's right to bare her back and wear a wig :).

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:14 AM

    BJP and Congres, both parties are almost alike. I didn't feel any difference during NDA and UPA rules. Both have equally competant leaders and administrators who can deliver. But Congress has almost ruined the higher education of India (thanks to the Great Arjun Singh) and is slightly soft on terrorist (may be because of political compulsions) while BJP is not able to bring 2nd rank of good leaders out.

    The main reason for BJP's debacle is absense of Vajpayeeji coupled with non-cooperation of RSS.

    And about riots, yes Gujrat has been a blot, but Gujrat is also the most sought after state for investment (no riots since 2002). So BJP can also govern well.

    The way out for BJP may to restructure themselves and get the "money leaders" out.

    A strong congress and strong BJP is always in India's interest. The real danger is the bunch of regional parties.

    Harek kahta hai ki mai bihari hu, maratha hu, tamil hu, telagu hu, kannadiga hu, Oriya hu, Bengali hu, Kashmiri hu, Punjabi hu, Asaamee hu. Koi nahi kahta ki mai HINDUSTANI hu.