Define your vision for India!

L.K.Advani, 80, is now named by the BJP as the next Prime Minister, if the party wins the next elections. That’s fine. In a democracy, after all, we must have an Opposition party, a strong enough and a united Opposition that is part of any vibrant democracy. Our polity is one such and widely admired all over the world.

The thoughts at a time when the major Opposition party names its Prime Ministerial candidate are likely to react immediately to the major ruling party, namely, the Congress and what it does in a similar situation. It is here there would be tremours in the Congress which has over the years has become a family party; a dynastic party whose sole aim seems to be to preserve the party as a family property and the thought of openly naming the Prime Ministerial candidate is anathema to it. Why?

It is a difficult question to answer, more so for the Congress party itself or for other parties also to see why the Congress party is so blatantly unconcerned about such niceties!

Indian democracy evolved over the past sixty years in an unusual manner that the evolution is owing to the foresight and leadership qualities of our freedom fighters, Gandhi and Nehru and others who were all men of outstanding qualities, sacrifice for the public cause was their hallmark.

Today, we see a totally different scenario. Politics has become caste and chauvinism and a strong dose of cynicism and that is why so much immorality, so much illegitimacy and so much of outward pretences and inward selfishness ness are marked in our leader’s behavioral pattern.

So, given the shortcomings that mark our polity, we have to take the brighter side of our public life and see what best we can make out of it.

It is in this sense we welcome L.K.Advani being publicly named as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. That at least would now focus on the man in question. Advani was always seen as a hardliner in the sense he pushes things a bit far to the brinkmanship, the Babrimasjid demolition is directly traced to his rath yatra and also the credit is given to him for having transformed a  rag-tag set of organisations and groups, RSS, VHP and what have you into a unified force  to emerge as a party of power when it became the first NDA  coalition under Vajpayee who won  a rare honor inside and outside India for his moderate visage and also wiser leader of much consequence. The world powers, the USA and Russia saw in Vajpayee a mature leader. So, this legacy would rub off Advani, jhoefully.

Will Advani rise up to the new challenges? Only time can tell.
His hardline stances, in particular, his Hindutva, militant or subdued, would be watched in the days and months ahead of the mid-term polls.

Of course politics, that is political success, reaching the seat of power and retaining it, calls for personal talents and also luck. Dr.Manmohan Singh is luckier and also his personal visage also helped him. But will Dr.Singh leave a mark on Indian public mind is a doubtful question.

It is here the country would expect Advani to articulate his views as he prepares to take on the Congress in his bid for power. One thing that is uppermost in most minds is Advani’s oft-repeated attack on Secularism as it is understood by the progressive sections of society. For the BJP secularism is not acceptable, that is an equi-distance from the religions. For the BJP, it has to be centered on a militant Hindutva whatever it means. It also means that the 150 million Indian Muslims are not equal citizens, that stance goes against the spirit of the Constitution and also against the spirit of the modern world’s ideas of social cohesion.

But the BJP is unlikely to win a majority on its own. So, who are the allies of the BJP? Not yet clear. It is better for the BJP to see itself as a Rightist party, pure and simple and play down religion in a modern democracy. Secularism also has evolved; today no modern society looks at itself in religious or sectarian terms. Society has to be based on modern principles of freedom, equality and human rights and women empowerment and an egalitarian economic structure, though driven by globalisation and private capitalism as such.

So, what the other parties, other than the Congress, would be pitching on would be these modern world, Enlightenment ideals and one hopes the would be allies of the BJP would restrain the BJP from its adventurist flourishes.

In fact, it would pay rich dividends to the BJP if it takes on its Vajpayee legacy, moderation and also modernisation, very seriously.

Even under Vajpayee there were aberrations, there were religious killings and persecutions in Gujarat and Orissa and elsewhere. But Vajpayee succeeded in a remarkable way in his economic policies and also in foreign policy.

The RSS and the VHP and other outfits are in a state of limbo, owing to many factors. Another new factor is the new crop of leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad and others who have brought a measure of rational discourse for public policy debates.

Also, the voters in the states are sharply divided by caste and regional considerations and so it is the sort of coalition partners who converge around the BJP. Even in W.Bengal, there are now signs that the RSP and Forward Bloc are thinking in terms of disengaging themselves from the CPI (M)’s bear-hug. So, there can be newer versions and pressures from the other regional allies like the ADMK in TN, from BSP in UP and also the Trinamul Congress and others.

The Congress is bound to lose more ground if it takes along the current allies, the DMK and the Left, in the next elections. They are now a drag on the party and one can be sure the Congress would also seek help from new parties and outfits, in many states like UP and TN and also in W.Bengal.

Ultimately, much would depend upon the leadership qualities of the leaders. In this instance, how Advaniji evolves from the still perceived hardliner to the aspiring PM in a new coalition of contradictory forces.

So, the future of politics, from now to the next polls, would be full of interesting possibilities and also for new dangers, from the Narendra Modis to the Prakash Karats.
Will they be dismissed from the competitive coalition building processes and pressures? Or, where they will migrate unless they are accommodated with obliging partners in the new coalition groupings?

Who knows in the emerging din and noise by the smaller outfits, there are so many Janata Dals and so many split BJP smaller outfits and also so many new avatars within the CPI (M) coalition as also in the Dravidian heartland, with so many film actors floating their own outfits?

The point now is that for Advaniji to speak for a new Hindutva he has to choose his words carefully. Otherwise, as on his Jinnah gaffe, he might still slip up!
The country expects from such an experience leader who had see the ups and downs so often, to think of India as his whole playground, so to say and as such, also realise that history is not on his side for the taking, it is history that would play its own tricks to subdue him if he exceeds the brief, so to say, and also he has a rare chance to shape history in the larger canvass of a Multi-cultural landscape that is the great country of India. The world won’t wait for small men to play big in the new century; countries are weary of wars and creeds, violence and bloodshed. It is for the rare leader who steers clear of the hatred and violence and tension and fear among the minorities and also the unease among the majority community that would give the space for Advaniji to emerge as a leader of some consequence.

Then, that would be the end of the road for a leader who has had a long innings when he joined the RSS as a young man sixty years ago in a far off Karachi and had seen so many turbulence many of which his own making but nevertheless he helped thereby to catapult the party to the seat of power.

In any normal sense Advaniji is not comparable to the run of the mill politicians, there is much still raw the stamina for a fight left in the man who is destined to make it to the top.

How leaders evolve. Once in office, is always a mystery. One can only hope for the best, in the given situations. Luckily, there is so much  practical experience with coalition governments working in Delhi, let us hope this time, the third time, we would be only gaining a lot of legacy to take India forward.

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