The Sangh Parivar is in mental agony. For, the results of last fortnight's state assembly election have further divided the hardliners and liberals.
The former group wants the BJP to pursue its own ideological agenda or else sit in the Opposition. The latter argue that wielding power would help advance its cause.
RSS chief K S Sudarshan, who heads the Sangh Parivar, is undoubtedly the leader of the hardliners. He is of the view that without advancing the Sangh's ideological cause, power should hold no charm for the swayamsevaks.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee represents the liberals. Small wonder, then, that hardcore Sanghis call him a closet Congressman.
Vajpayee's view is pretty well-known: Without moderating the Sangh's extreme image, and discarding some of its more controversial hobbyhorses, the BJP can never become the nucleus for most non-Congress groups as it is now under his leadership.
Though Sudarshan has re-located himself to Nagpur, much to Vajpayee's relief, others in the RSS hierarchy have ambivalent feelings on retaining the Parivar's ideological purity.
RSS joint general secretary Madan Das Devi, its most important official after Sudarshan, though keen on a 'pure' Sangh, is nonetheless averse to rocking Vajpayee's boat at this juncture.
The recent enclave of Sangh bigwigs in Jhinjholi, Haryana, following the BJP's disastrous showing in the assembly election saw a keen debate on whether the party had lost support by divorcing its distinctive ideology.
As one hardliner put it, "More and more people are seeing the BJP as a carbon copy of the Congress now."
Better out than in
While on that enclave, here's more.
Asked what distinguished the BJP from other political outfits, a hardliner enumerated: i. incorruptible leaders, especially the top-rung, ii. abrogation of Article 370, which would lead to a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem, iii. a Uniform Civil Code, and iv. a temple in Ayodhya.
The hardcore elements in the Parivar argue, and not without reason, that on all four counts the BJP had retreated most shamefully. The Tehelka tapes had blown away the myth about the BJP leaders not being corrupt.
And since the party had itself put the other three demands it had championed for nearly five decades on the backburner, the pursuit of power and pelf seemed to have made the BJP soft and opportunistic.
"We were better outside power, championing nationalist causes... now we are compromising with anti-national elements," many feel.
The RSS leadership is particularly sceptical about the government's Kashmir initiative. It believes that a lasting solution cannot be found without abrogating Article 370, and thus changing the demographic character in the Valley.
If the hardcore elements have not gone for Vajpayee as yet it is due to Home Minister L K Advani's influence. Though ideologically one with the Sangh, Advani is pragmatic to see profit in the BJP's expansion and consolidation before it implements its distinctive agenda.
The red light menace
In Uttar Pradesh there were over 13,000 cars with red lights on their roofs to announce their VIP status at one time.
The Rajnath Singh government slashed this number to a little less than 2,000 by revising the list of people entitled to use the light. Despite the pruning, most people continue with it on their cars.
But an alert sub-inspector paid the price when he questioned a Samajwadi Party leader in Shahjehanpur as to why he had the ubiquitous red light on his swanky car. The neta promptly rang up his friends in Lucknow and had the SI suspended.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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