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The Rediff Interview/ Murli Manohar Joshi

'If a party has to change its chal, charitra, the party is not worth it'

Murli Manohar Joshi Few people know that the former Bharatiya Janata Party president, Murli Manohar Joshi, has never ever shared a platform with Bal Thackeray even though the party has an alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. If the BJP leadership has noticed Joshi's silent disapproval of Thackeray, it has never brought it up.

This is a measure of Joshi's political catholicity. Joshi became president of the BJP when the party was trying to recover from the rath yatras of L K Advani. With his own ekta yatras to Kashmir, Joshi tried to give a political colour to the BJP's campaigns, rather than letting the party slip into the hands of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's marauding hordes.

Later, it was Joshi who tried to give expression to a new social experiment that the BJP undertook by aligning with the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh. That relationship may have come unstuck now, but by actively advocating that the BJP forge the alliance, Joshi took the party along a different political path. In this interview to Paromita Mukhopadhyay -- reproduced here with the kind courtesy of Sunday magazine, Murli Manohar Joshi, former professor of physics at Allahabad university, talks about the politics of the nucleus, the mass and the universe. Excerpts:

What happened at Virar, where the BJP's top leadership met recently?

Operation Organisation was the theme. The party has decided to strengthen its organisation and set up a committee to solve problems of indiscipline.

First Gujarat, now Rajasthan. Are we witnessing the Congressisation of the BJP?

No, it represents a phenomenon of Indian politics which has also crept into our party, but the basic structure of the party represented by its ideology and leadership remains intact. A party is Congressised when one leader breaks the party.

But in Gujarat, was Vaghela not an important leader?

Yes, he was. But the Vaghela phenomenon was an isolated one. In any case, what was carried away by Vaghela was not the basic frame of the party.

Why is that most party problems acquire a casteist tinge? The party is getting increasingly casteist.

Again, I would say that this problem has not infested the central framework. Unless that happens, I wouldn't say that the BJP is castiest.

But Govindacharya is very much part of your central leadership. He has spoken of cultivating backward support.

Yes. I had asked him about this and he has no explanation for it. It's very easy to say, 'Do this and that'. But how?

Did Govindacharya explain what he meant by changing the chal, charitra, chehera of the party?

No. You see, if a party has to change its character, thinking, etc., it means that the party is not worth it.

Don't you think the social engineering theory propounded by Govindacharya is a dangerous concept?

It depends on what it implies. If it means disturbing something or throwing up something based on purely caste considerations, then it has its own implications. Some of them are not good for the party.

But social engineering has now become a code word for an appeal on the basis of caste.

Yes, and social justice is yet another euphemism for it. The question I have been asking is: what social justice has been brought about in the name of social engineering? Rural poverty has increased and most of the rural poor continue to be dalits.

But the counter trend to all this is that you are portrayed as the brahmin enemy of the OBCs.

But nobody in the party believes in this trend. One or two individuals don't matter.

In fact, this attitude is wrong. For example, UP. It is the most populous state and almost all castes are balanced, but the chief minister is Kalyan Singh. In Maharashtra, the deputy CM is a banjara. Even Advani is not a brahmin. Only poor Bhairon Singh is a thakur.

But if you take the important leaders of the BJP, you have two brahmins and one Maharani.

Well, that is not because we are brahmins. Vajpayee has been at the forefront of the party from the Jan Sangh days. Nobody can point fingers at him for any casteist attitude.

But Kalyan Singh has been trying to whip up the support of the backward castes.

He is the leader of the BJP, not backwards.

Murli Manohar Joshi interview, continued

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