Skin off the BJP’s nose

It’s a forgotten memory from the not-so distant past but with the RSS much in the news today in its bid to clean up the BJP and give the party new direction, I suddenly recalled their door-to-door campaign in Maharashtra nearly a decade ago (November 2000 to be precise).I worked for the Outlook at the time and my editor had asked me to infiltrate homes where the RSS might come calling. “Just sit there quietly when the pracharaks arrive without letting them know you are a reporter. See how it goes. Should make for some interesting insights.’’

Since this was Pune where the campaign was to be launched and I had few friends in that city who might let the RSS indoors, I knew that would be a tough act to accomplish. So I did the next best thing – I went across to the RSS office in Pune and asked them if I could tail their pracharaks through the day. “We will not let anybody know we are journalists,’’ I and my photographer said. “Let them think we are just your workers. That way we could get some genuine reactions.’’

They were only too delighted but that delight turned into dismay and chagrin as well as a good deal of sheepishness at the end of the day when they realised that the reactions had been too genuine and heartfelt for their own good. For, they had been made most unwelcome in homes they considered RSS to the core.  On the other hand, non-RSS homes afforded them a reluctant welcome nd gave them a patient hearing. Read Hindutva Unlearnt

The entire episode taught me a very crucial fact of life: that the harshest criticism, where there is no motive in sight, will indeed always come from people you consider your own. Because, perhaps, they are the ones who care. And those who are either diplomatic or go to lengths to guard your sensibilities should not be much relied upon. Because they do not care, one way or the other.

So perhaps it is just in the scheme of things that the RSS should now take it upon itself to clean the BJP stables. But I notice that all its shortfalls listed by its own supporters from a decade ago remain – their uniform is still outdated, their salute is still inspired by Hitler’s Brown Shirts and they are still not moving `with the speed of light’ as one of their critics had then advised them to do in order to catch up with the 21st century.

I think that is why the BJP is in so much trouble, “in danger of becoming irrelevant and marginalised’’ to quote that critic again just like the RSS was before it infused some new blood in the form of the young persona of Mohan Bhagwat.

He is doing everything that RSS sarsanghchalaks have shied away from in the past and he is making no bones about the fact that he means business. It is an indication of the fact that the RSS is queasy no longer about its political ambitions and if my good friend Nitin Gadkari does become president of the BJP, he will have the uphill task of weaning back those youngsters who had definitely moved away from the blood-and gore-politics of the BJP in the past half-decade or so.

For, it is very clear that the last Lok Sabha campaign in May 2009 did nothing for the BJP. I have loads of friends whose parents/grandparents have been consistent BJP voters in the past. Their children, though exposed to those home influences, I noticed, were clear about their “fundas’’ in life.

In a post-recessionary India at the time, when memories of job losses in several sectors were still fresh in their minds, one young boy from a family which had never voted anything but the BJP, told us, “I would rather have money in my wallet than blood on my street.’’

“Whatever do you mean by that?’’ I had queried.

His reply was very enlightening and one of the reasons why I knew that the UPA would win the polls long before LK Advani even began to realise he was facing defeat on counting day. Dr Manmohan Singh represented money to these youngsters and Advani, the possibility of communal disharmony and violence that might disrupt the smooth running of businesses and so the inflow of money.

Which was not unlike what one of those women had said to the RSS pracharaks a decade ago, “You don’t want us to use soaps manufactured by multinationals. Never mind that what you recommend is full of lye and peels our skin off! Its my skin! So why should I use your soap?’’

That disenchantment with the RSS then has turned into disenchantment with the BJP today. And that really seems a lot of skin off the BJP’s nose, doesn’t it?

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  • Rajen Kaushal

    BJP needs to do serious introspection if they want to stay united and seriously oppose the ruling regime. Getting disintegrated after losing a national electiondoes not serve purpose and itself a major lose and whole of party members should take a collective responsibility than looking for spacegoats. Party is looking beyond L.K. Advani and there does not seem to any charismatic leader. However in present time, there is need of the leader who let others in the party forum do their work firmly state to state, city to city and let the results come out than few people group in New Delhi chalking out a campaign and instructed state units to work on.

    Hindutva is a major card but Hindus in India are divided on regional grounds, state to state therefore, are not able to come collectively to control the power. Sorry to say, therefore, India has seen so many leaders from the minorities at the Helm. Hindus have suffered so many attacks from outsiders because they are scattered regionally but yet they do not want to be united to rule. Has any country seen that inspite of holding majority heavily are yet not able to get a Lord Ram temple built to correct the historic aggression of outsiders against stiff competition from a much lower minor community.

    Parties are fighting on regional ground and then, claim to be secular. If all parties are secular, they should contest from whole of the country and let the reality come out.

    Despite doing so well in governance like keeping prices controlled, improved relations with US, yet they are not able to come back to the power just because some handful people have formed association in New Delhi and inflcting decisions like they are running a business group and selling their brand value.

    Politicians must understand they are in social service and therefore, instead of fighting between each other, they contest the elections on pure issues and talk of future rather than arguing who did what in the past. A government is elected to work forward and not to cancel the previous decisions and then, inflict their decisions. There should be rule that Govt. will pass decisions which are meetable within their tenure and take next decisions upon coming into power barring some decisions which cannot be restricted within the given mandate.



  • Anil Kumar

    I will tell once again do not make generalization from few samples.. BTW good for BJP and RSS that they actually go back to people to hear their views first hand. Tthere is nothign wrong in being told by their supporters over the anguish they have..

    IN my family since last god knows how many generatiosn noone voted anyoen other than congress btu I would not touch them even.

    My funda is clearer if India stink today which ti does then blame lies on the door of those who have ruled it continuously. Particualrlry iN maha they have enjoyed uniterrupted power with exception of one term even in state.

    These same people who have bene in power for so long have been ruin on national Tv how still today women have to walk for kms to fethc drinking water in rural maharashtra..

    Somehow if socalled intelligent idiots can’t see the admission of guilt in these assertions then I am sure their funda is nto clear they are bloody politically illiterate and confused..


  • Anil Kumar

    I have read similar nonsensw when NDa was in power about congress >> baad badalte der nahin lagti mohtarama.. Some no nonesense guy is in dock and I expect him to do what a no nonesense guy has done in Gujarat .


  • nupur

    but for all this we do need a good opposition – otherwise the Congress would go back to its old days of behaving like an imperialist monarch. so hopefully some soul searching for BJP will help.


    Anil Kumar Reply:

    They are already behavign like one

    (1) D RAJA: 60000 crore scam Manmohan Singh shamelessly saysRaja is saint
    (2) Madhu Koda otoh finds himself in soup
    (3) Q cases to be dropped but when an RTI query comes to release the document abotu the case CBI has audacity to tell that it will hamper with the process of prosecution. Media too si silent noone asks these idiots that if you have decided to drop the charge what is the point in this secrecy. let us see how you actually compromised the case against Q.

    Amidst all thsi the guy who is presiding over all thsi is projected as saint..

    This is how media was when indira Gandhi decided to brign in emergency.. With exception of indian express and AruN shourie everyone was licking Indira Gandhi all over


  • Dwayne Hallett

    This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article While it’s impossible to produce a comprehensively accurate number, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists puts the chance of miscarriage at anywhere from ten percent to twenty five percent.


  • Elmer Oshita

    Hey I love your style I will subscribe for your feed please keep posting! It can’t really be clearly put down to the side effects either.


  • Gyan

    this is the best article HT has published in the last one year.


  • Lines Flight

    Ridiculous arguments.

    1) Jyoti Basu brushed off the rape of Anita Dewan in a crass and insensitive manner. So, that allows Ms. Banerjee to do the same thing? What then differentiates her from Mr. Basu? They seem to be cut from the same piece of cloth!

    2) If the TMC government blames the previous administration for everything, then to whom should currently affected citizens go to for redress. Assuming executive political power comes with a baggage of responsibilities. Ms. Banerjee and her party need to realize that agitational politics ends when powers of government are assumed by a political party. Nothing that Ms. Banerjee or her party has done inspires any confidence in these matters.

    3) The assertion that just because no one raised a hue and cry about attacks on TMC political workers by the then Left Government, the same should be the case when TMC workers attack CPIM workers is just crass. This is the politics of revenge. Is this the ethic of the TMC?

    Let’s get real!


    Abhiseheksarkar64 Reply:

    if the “real revenge” was taken on cpm cadres…………..there would be no cpim cadres left in wb………………………….she has done a gr8 job in handling post result condition…………………


  • Anonymous

    Didi’s swing to the extreme right is not remedy to Basu’s swing to extreme Left. Neither optimism, nor pessimism but realism must be helped to prevail. For that Mamatha needs good friends in the media and NGO groups to put her in touch with harsh realities. Who will bell the cat? The Onchiyam murder exploding in Kerala unravels the real face of our Marxists and their tacticks to usher in the peace of the cemetry through the barrel of the gun.


  • AshishC

    Arnab Mitra laments the allegedly “strong influence of Marxists among the journalists”- would he count Bartaman, Anandabazar etc among the Marxist influenced papers?
    This is the most third rate analysis I have seen coming from a national newspaper’s editorial staff. Of course, Mr Mitra might justify his brain freeze on an education system right royally screwed up by the CPM. Or, is the Hindustan Times threatened by not being on the “approved list” of newspapers in public libraries?
    I have no sympathy left for the people of West Bengal- they really deserve their rulers. As if suffering 34 years of left front rule was not enough, they bring in Mamata- with protectionist, left of left instincts (let’s not glorify them by calling it an ideology) and essentially demonstrated clueless-ness in running an administration- remember her stint as Railway minister?
    The criticism against Mamata’s insensitive comments are as much a comment on her lack of sensitivity as lacking any idea about how to go about doing her work.
    The tragedy is not Mamata or CPM; the real tragedy is the people of “Waste Bengal”- and their (as Nirode Chaudhuri would say) “atma-ghati”- suicidal instincts.

    As an aside, the real comic element was in the this line: “We watched patiently as the CPI(M)-led Left Front completely destroyed a vibrant state over 34 years.”
    Really? West Bengal was a vibrant state in 1977? It’s not tobacco that I smell here.


  • Abhiseheksarkar64



  • Mahua Rayc

    this is the most ridiculous piece I have read in a long time. Congratulations!!!


  • Ashes Mukherjee

    Finally somebody who thinks and speaks just like a Xaverian of yester years, close to my heart.. Brother Arnab, you mention Peterson and Bouche, also somebody who I have always considered as my ultimate mentors and shapers, you could say no nonsense foundation builders that allowed a bunch of aimless boys to grow up to be grounded and stable individuals unlike the generations of today. Just curious, which year did you complete your Madhyamik/ICSE from SXC because our paths may have crossed.

    Nihil Ultra!