Narendra Modi gets Balraj Madhok’s blessings

A day after Narendra Modi was appointed the Chairman of the BJP’s central campaign committee, veteran politician and co-founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Balraj Madhok spoke to him on the phone and gave him his blessings.

Madhok, a former New Delhi and South Delhi MP, is the senior most leader who along with Shyama Prasad Mukherjee had formulated the principles on which the Jana Sangh was formed in the early fifties. The Sangh Parivar leadership today unfortunately refuses to publicly recognize his role in propagating the Jana Sangh ideology but privately a large number of activists even now consider him to be an iconic figure.

According to Madhok, the BJP has taken the correct decision in appointing Modi to head the poll panel. He said that he had spoken to Modi on Monday morning and conveyed his best wishes. He also gave him his blessings. He further stated that at this stage of his life, L.K.Advani should have accepted the decision with grace and dignity.

While a large number of young people may not be familiar with Madhok’s name and his contribution to the Jana Sangh, believers of Hindutva ideology have always held him very high esteem. His support for Modi at this crucial juncture is being seen as very significant. Equally important is the fact Modi too seems to be reciprocating this gesture.

Interestingly, the drama within the BJP during the past three days has had shades of the Madhok episode of early seventies which led to the Jana Sangh’s co founder’s suspension from the party as a result of a conspiracy hatched by some top leaders of the party and the RSS. Madhok was the Jana Sangh’s strongman and it was during his presidentship of the party that the Saffron Brigade for the first time got 33 seats in the Lok Sabha in the 1967 general elections.

However, after the assassination of his successor and Jana Sangh ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya in early 1968, the party was taken over by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nanaji Deshmukh. Madhok was subsequently eased out after the 1971 elections and in his books, holds Vajpayee, Advani, Nanaji and K.R.Malkani responsible for the action against him.

The similarities between what happened in Goa with the circumstances leading to Madhok’s ouster were there for everyone to see. Madhok had contributed in the rise of Advani in the Jana Sangh days as Advani had contributed to Modi’s rise in the BJP. Madhok got on the wrong side of the RSS and was sidelined. Advani too despite taking back his resignation is certainly not on the right side of the RSS any more.

The irony is that if Madhok’s charge against Vajpayee and Advani is true, then politics seems to have gone through a full circle. One reason for Advani to withdraw his resignation could be that he too feared that the RSS might come down heavily against him. In any case, his stature has got diminished in the process, which even Shivanand Tiwari of the JD (U) said on the TV on Wednesday.

Another irony is that in his letter Advani talked about how the BJP was not the same party with the same values as it was earlier. Leaders like Madan Lal Khurana, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharati and Babulal Marandi pointed out this fact to him during the last one-decade but somehow he did not agree and instead marginalized them. Since things did not go his way in Goa, he lashed out at the party, which he helped in reaching its peak.

Historically, Advani will be remembered as perhaps the greatest leader of the BJP for his contribution in making it a force to reckon with. But he is also equally responsible for sidelining seasoned leaders and instead replacing them with cosmetic leadership owing allegiance to him and not the party. But times are changing and people who were with him have decided to move on. The risk is whether Modi will help them consolidate their position or they will become a part of history in due course.

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