'BJP loses a democratic election, then buys MLAs from the ruling party's flock, and rides to power in these states.'
'Do you think Atalji would have tolerated this?'
'The BJP for its greed for power killed Atalji's ideals.'
An ardent admirer of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prodyut Bora quit the Bharatiya Janata Party after an 11-year stint in 2015 as he couldn't connect with the transformation BJP was undergoing under Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi's leadership.
In this interview with Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com, Bora, who recently merged his Liberal Democratic Party with the Congress, speaks his mind on Modi's leadership, why Modi needs to be defeated in 2024, his purpose of merging the LDP with the Congress, why he thinks that Modi is not invincible.
'Everything was sacrosanct when the BJP was led by Vajpayee and Advani. That was a different culture. But with Modi and Amit Shah nothing is sacrosanct,' Bora had told Rediff.com in 2016.
From being the BJP's first IT Cell chief to forming your own party, the Liberal Democratic Party, to merging the LDP with the Congress, what defines Prodyut Bora's ideology and politics?
That is not correct because after forming the IT Cell (of the BJP in 2007) and after being its first chief for three years, I did many other things which the media has conveniently forgot. For example, I was general secretary of the BJP in Assam for three years; then I was also the national executive member of the BJP.
I was given various responsibilities (while I was in the BJP) and thereafter (after quitting the BJP) I formed the LDP, but people unfortunately, put a full stop at the IT Cell.
What defines your ideology and politics?
I have not changed at all (from the time when I was in the BJP and now that I am in the Congress); my ideology has not changed at all either. Let me give you an example.
Abraham Lincoln belonged to the Republican Party and so did Donald Trump. If Abe were to take birth again, would he recognise the Republican Party of which he once was a part of?
Similarly, the BJP that I was a part of (once) doesn't exist (today).
Let me begin with the Liberal 'L' of the LDP.
Atalji (Bihari Vajpayee) was a liberal. I joined the BJP looking at (inspired by) Atalji. I did not have the RSS or ABVP background or any right wing background. I was a corporate professional in 2004, but I was attracted to Atalji's liberalism. Why do I think Atalji was a liberal?
Atalji was a man who had George Fernandes as his defence minister; Farooq Abdullah as his tourism minister; A P J Abdul Kalam as his President. Now, what more can I expect from a liberal leader?
Does liberalism exist in the BJP today? Definitely, no.
The 'D' in LDP stands for social democracy; of course, we don't have to fight for political democracy, but under the Modi regime we have to fight for both political and social democracy; otherwise, political democracy is guaranteed to us by the Constitution. What we do need to fight for is social democracy.
Now, the Congress is the party that inserted the word socialism in the Constitution. The Preamble to the Constitution in 1950 declared India as a democratic, sovereign, republic.
The words socialism and secularism were inserted by Mrs Indira Gandhi during her tenure (as tprime minister). So that's why I aligned with the Congress. We being a small party spoke about social democracy in a very limited way. The Congress speaks of social democracy too.
What the BJP is doing in the country today, not just to its political opponents but even to the media, even to small businesses, to every section of Indian society, we need a platform which can take on the BJP.
For me, the Congress is that all-India platform that has been taking on the devious policies of the BJP fearlessly. I could have happily stayed in one little corner of Assam and carried on with my fight against the BJP's deviousness but they are ruining the entire country and so it is important to fight them at an all-India level.
Among the reasons that prompted you and LDP members to merge with the Congress is to defeat the BJP in the 2024 general elections.
Why is it so necessary to defeat the BJP in 2024? Why has the BJP become such a galvanising force for political parties across India to come together to defeat it in the 2024 general election?
Let us not be under any misunderstanding that the Opposition will defeat the BJP in 2024. It is the people of India who will defeat the BJP or whoever is in power. We (the political parties) are just an instrument of the people's wishes.
It will be sheer hubris to say that we (the Congress) will defeat the BJP; it is the people who are going to throw them out. Now the question is why are all the parties today hell bent on throwing the BJP out (of power).
The simple reason, the simple answer to this question is this is fight for the idea of India. The idea of India is interpreted differently by different political parties.
For some it would mean federalism, respecting all religions, etc. The Congress's idea of India is very different from the BJP's idea of India.
The current BJP's idea of driving the vehicle (ruling the country) is by looking at the rear view mirror (harking on our glorious past). Other people like to look what is in front of them (the present and the future).
Obviously, you can't drive the car very far by looking at the rear view mirror without meeting with an accident. But that's the BJP's style (of governing the country). So, every political party, with their own idea of India, which is diametrically opposite to BJP's idea of India, want to see them out of power at the Centre.
The BJP is the biggest threat to the idea of India; what the current BJP wants is a Hindu Rashtra and so it must be defeated to save our founding fathers's idea of India. The idea of a Hindu Rashtra is completely opposite to the idea of India.
If Atalji were alive today, would he have opposed the current BJP's idea of India?
Atalji was the first president of the BJP which took birth in Mumbai in 1980. People (in the BJP) have conveniently forgotten the founding principles and ideology of the BJP.
When it was founded by Atalji: it was Gandhian socialism and nationalism. Please go and check it out; there was no Hindutva (during Atalji's reign).
It was Atalji who reminded Mr Modi of Raj Dharma in 2002 (post the Gujarat riots). The BJP was a very different organisation in 2002.
I need to remind journalists today who have very conveniently forgotten about this BJP. Atalji had a 13-day government in 1996 and a 13-month government in 1998. Both the times, the government fell by one vote. But Atalji refused to do horse trading. Now, (under Modi's rule) what do we see in India in state after state after state after state?
The BJP loses a democratic election and then buys MLAs from the ruling party's flock, lock, stock and barrel and rides to power in these states. Do you think Atalji would have tolerated this?
The BJP for its greed for power killed Atalji's ideals lock, stock and barrel.
Do you really think the Congress and numerous regional parties stand a chance to defeat Narendra Modi in the 2024 general election given the political heft he has acquired since 2014?
Tell me one thing. Can you find one political pundit who, in 2004 after Atalji's nuclear test (in Pokhran on May 11, 1998), his India Shining campaign forecast or believed that the BJP would lose (the 2004 general elections)?
It is impossible to predict politics; impossible. Did anybody in the United States, with all their sophisticated psephology models and surveys predict that Donald Trump would become the US president? Everybody thought he was a buffoon.
Change is brought about by people, no matter how much politicians think that they are the ones who won the election or, they swung the election in their party's favour.
It is people who bring change. People give opportunities to new parties, new ideas; if that works out great, if not, the next change is just five years away. Every idea comes with an expiry date after which people bid it goodbye.
Wouldn't Modi, and the BJP be invincible after the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya before the next general elections in 2024? That's what the BJP seems to be majorly banking upon.
This country has a dirty habit of saying 'after her/him, who?' when they see a prime minister at the helm for a long period of time. The ingenuous assumption is that in a country of more than a billion people there's just one person who can deliver.
The people of India are far wiser and sagacious than the political machinations of an individual or the infrastructure that he has created (that works like clockwork when it comes to winning elections).
Now, whether it takes five, ten or 15 years (for the change of government to happen), I don't know.
But I'm fairly certain that the BJP is nearing its expiry date. The idea which the BJP is espousing is nearing its expiry days.