The opposition is considered as vital as the government for the health of a democracy. In India the BJP despite its woeful condition remains the main opposition party. Its pathetic condition impels comment even at the risk of injecting in it an element of first person involvement. The latest public spat to further disintegrate the party arises from the remark reported in the media by RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat that the BJP needed chemotherapy and surgical treatment. BJP president Rajnath Singh, again according to media reports, responded with the remark that only mad men would consider the BJP to be suffering from cancer.
Readers might recall that this scribe had reported in an article how he had responded after being dismissed from the BJP national executive in 1984. In his resignation letter he had accused the BJP’s top caucus led by LK Advani of ignoring accountability, of observing double standards and of flouting the constitutional norms of the party. My resignation letter was contained in an article first published in 2005 after the general election, and later reproduced in 2009 after the latest general election because of its continued relevance to the current situation.
Subsequently there occurred a spate of similar letters by Jaswant Singh, Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha, Sudheendra Kulkarni, and most recently by Vasundhara Raje. The burden of these letters was the same. Each repeated the charges that I made in my letter. However there was one major difference. My resignation letter was reproduced by me in the media more than two decades after I quit the party. All the above letters were leaked to the press while the writers were still in the party. Most continue to remain in the party even today.
The irony of this is highlighted by the latest letter from Raje in which after lambasting the top leaders of the party she concludes by affirming that she remains a loyal and disciplined member of the party. What kind of discipline is it which allows her to denigrate the leadership while she continues to remain in the party? This is not discipline. It is dissidence which is invariably the worst and most corrosive malady to plague any organization.
What, then, is the cause of the BJP sickness? It stems from the lack of a democratic temper and resort to the Byzantine intrigues that characterized a decadent palace. The troubles besetting the BJP are easy to resolve if its members but had the sense to observe and follow the party’s democratic constitution which for all practical purposes is consigned to the trash can.
At the end of August last I wrote in these columns: “Neither the RSS, nor any BJP leader nor any media pundit has suggested the obvious solution to the BJP impasse. All that needs to be done is for Advani to seek a vote of confidence from the parliamentary party. If none dares oppose him all the critics should shut up. If he fails to obtain confidence the party MPs should elect a new leader.” Could anything be simpler? And yet this is the one solution that is resolutely ignored by all the participants in the dispute.
Some time after that was published I took the liberty of contacting a senior BJP leader. I urged him to initiate a vote of confidence in the parliamentary party in order to end this unseemly public wrangling. I was assured that Advani had a very comfortable majority in the parliamentary party. He thanked me for my suggestion and promised to follow up. Subsequently nothing happened. Neither Advani nor Bhagwat has taken any step to initiate discussion on the leadership issue within the parliamentary party. I wonder why? Do the views of MPs count for nothing in the BJP?