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Home > News > Columnists > Arvind Lavakare

What Rajnath Singh should do

March 24, 2006

Rediff's readership debate on 'What should Rajnath Singh do?' was a pointer to what the man must first do: He must carefully absorb every suggestion or criticism that readers have made. He must sort the wheat from the chaff therein and put the former on his 'To Do' list.

The BJP turns 25

The next thing he must do is to think, meet and communicate. Next, he must think, meet and communicate and, finally, he must think, meet and communicate. He must do so with everybody from Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the top, with the RSS on the side, with his party peers in the midst and with the grassroots workers at the bottom.

He must do so because the BJP's disconnect within the Sangh Parivar and with the country as a whole has today reached a state of ridicule despite the party ruling over five states on its own strength.

With Vajpayee, Rajnath Singh must think how best the BJP can utilise the octogenarian who has announced his retirement from electoral politics and hence does not need to wear a mask of any kind, 'secular' or otherwise. The obvious asset of the old man is his emotional oratory.

The BJP's new president must therefore convincingly communicate to Vajpayee the urgent need of him undertaking a lecture tour of all the major cities to speak from mass public platforms on such subjects as 'Myth and reality of secularism', 'Hindutva's importance to Hindustan', 'Raj dharma and the swayamsevak', and 'What Ram means to an Indian'. Assuring him that these talks will be taped and edited for use all over India will enable Rajnath Singh to get the very best out of Vajpayee.

Next, Rajnath Singh must think how the BJP's ongoing undercurrent of mistrust with the RSS can best be resolved. An excellent way would be to get RSS chief K S Sudarshan and Vajpayee together, and convince them that there is a dire need of presenting to India the unique partnership of the two, the BJP and the RSS, on a common platform.

The fallout should be the roping in of Sudarshan on Vajpayee's lecture tour, with Sudarshan talking on, say, 'The how and why of the RSS rise to prominence', 'The essence of Savarkar's Hindutva', 'Secularism today means anti-majority' and 'Kashmir is much more than the Valley'.

The erudite Sudarshan and the ebullient Vajpayee will make a combination that could galvanise the spirit of the Sangh Parivar and the hearts of India in a way that has not happened since L K Advani set out in his rath yatra for the Ram temple movement. And that is a primary need of the BJP today.

Advani himself must be persuaded by the new BJP president to help do something that is critical for the BJP to have today: a firm ideology. The blatant or muted 'Hindutva' will just not do -- it is too nebulous in concept and, in any case, the media and its allies in politics have frightened the public about its meaning despite what the Supreme Court has ruled on it. Nor will 'cultural nationalism' or 'Gandhian socialism' or 'integral humanism' do -- all of them are just too hazy to understand.

And instead of searching for a new phrase of alliteration that the party is so obsessed with, the BJP would do well to revert to its old, solid slogan of 'Justice for all, appeasement of none.'

That is a multi-faceted slogan which is so all-inclusive and so apt for the BJP's programme. The uniform civil code can be demanded on the ground that the existing Shariat is unjust to Muslim women and Hindu men while prevalence of the Hindu Undivided Family provision is unjust to the entire Muslim community.

Abrogation of Article 370 can be demanded on the ground that it has enabled appeasement of those designated as 'Permanent Residents' under the J&K State Constitution while denying so many rights, including the right to vote for the state assembly polls, to hundreds of thousands of others; it is grossly unjust too that, because of Article 370, the J&K state government has the freedom to deny the applicability of a Parliamentary law or a Constitutional amendment to its territory whereas all other states as well as Union territories are denied that freedom.

As another example, the BJP's suggested ideological slogan would warrant a demand for reservations and rights on the basis of purely economic criterion rather than on the basis of caste or religion or language -- factors that have created the situation where 'secularism' has come to mean 'anti-majority' and 'anti-merit'.

To insure himself against any rancour among his colleagues who may have been hurt by his elevation, Rajnath Singh should take special care to treat them with respect due to equals.

Towards this end, he must first go out of the line of seniority and seek out Balbir Punj, the former Rajya Sabha MP who heads the party's 'think Tank'. If this unit is not armed with rediff readers' views and several other written suggestions from the public -- including a 33-page strategy paper sent to Advani in July 2004 -- then Rajnath Singh should conclude that Punj's team is not active enough, but not give it offence.

More the reason therefore that the new BJP president must closely involve the party's think tank in assisting Advani and himself in preparing the various constituent items of its new ideology.

This document must next be honed into a draft political manifesto in detailed consultation with the party's national executive; the chief ministers of those states where the party is presently in power should attend this meet as special invitees. That meeting, however, should be held in Advani's home and not in a seven-star hotel -- that culture should be cast away into history by Rajnath Singh.

With a draft of the new basic ideology in his pocket, Rajnath Singh and the party's think tank must make a power presentation of it to the top RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders for enabling feedback. Additional inputs or exclusions should be finalised through another interactive session with the party's national executives and the CMs.

With the party's ideology document in place through a democratic process, Rajnath Singh and Advani must release it in each state with the exhortation that each state-level president disseminates its contents to the village level.

Having thus laid the base for the party's revival, Rajnath Singh should make special efforts to ensure that the party embarks on a series of public and private talk shows and seminars so that a very wide spectrum of Indians sees the new determination of BJP to spread its views and thoughts on the future course it plans for the nation.

The entire aim of this suggested 'To do' list for Rajnath Singh is to display party team work, to finally finalise party philosophy, to communicate it, and to interact with the public -- precisely those qualities which have been missing from the party in the last 18 months.

If the man can get that done in the year ahead, he can rest assured of three years more in that high office. And if he can soon enough persuade the party to pass a resolution never to boycott Parliament henceforth for any reason whatsoever, he would merit something akin to a Padma Bhushan from those who believe that Parliament is for debating, not for walking out from.

Arvind Lavakare

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Number of User Comments: 27

Sub: Mr. Lavakare right again

He gets it right all the time. I think the BJP resident should be asked to consult Mr. Punj and Mr. Lavakare along with others ...

Posted by sg

Sub: B.J.P. is desperate!

B.J.P. is not a set of crookes to disrupt all the progressive actions of the Nation, but they have proved beyond any doubt that their ...

Posted by B.Gautam

Sub: what BJP President should do

First and foremost BJP should should strengthen its core competencies rather than copy congress. Hindutva is its greatest strength. Secularism in its present anti majority ...

Posted by JP Dubey

Sub: What should Rajnath Singh do?

First He should learn some common sense and stop giving statements supporting breaking of he was mentioning about Telangana etc....and that too at a ...

Posted by R

Sub: Thoughtful and just the right stuff

Hi Arvind Loved your thoughts on this. Just hope Rajnath gets his hands on this as well. There is a very bad need of such ...

Posted by Rajeev



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