Is BJP any different from Congress?
BJP has not reached the pinnacle of power overnight. It has been the committed pracharaks and the leaders who have been at it crawling slowly as Jan Sangh.
The party won just 3 seats in the entire country during 52-57 parliamentary elections and 4 seats during the 57-62 elections.
I remember being a supporter as a nine-year-old. I had even joined the shaakhas of RSS for a few months and appeared for Hindi exams run by Nagpur. I did Prathmik, Prambhik, Pravesh and Parichay. Didn’t continue for Kovid and Rattan, though. I liked English more.
They taught us laathi and salute.
It was in Kandivali. The school was Dhanamal Vidyalaya.
I forget the name of the leader who came to campaign during ’57 but remember the cold night and warm greetings he received. He spoke in Hindi and was a good orator. Come to think of it, unlike Congress (where even the President and the Vice President give speeches with chits and notes and still fumble) BJP has several good orators.
To return to this nameless leader on this cold night, he talked about Hindu pride and we all, Sindhi refugees and their children, loved it. I had goose bumps. Sindhis didn’t like Muslims. They had to flee from Sindh because of them.
L K Advani and Hashu Advani were the popular figures who got more Sindhis to support Jan Sangh.
During the campaign, we could outdo the loudspeakers of Congress campaign and even stop it from proceeding further with our chant of Deepak Deepak. The election symbol of Jana Sangh was lamp. I have scrawled it on the walls during this period.
I don’t remember whether Jan Sangh candidate won or loss but this was the closest I got to the elections. I wrote the slips and witnessed the counting too. I remember how every mid-level leader would talk of growth.
I was disillusioned when these leaders refused to entertain the questions I had. I had read a few books and had asked questions. Questions that the RSS leaders (mid-level) didn’t encourage. Questions that Jan Sangh activists tried to answer but failed. And they didn’t like it.
As I got interested in writing and read progressive literature my opinion for the ideology of Jan Sangh started changing. They appeared koop mandook (frogs in the well) and I’d say it. They didn’t like it. And I came closer to Muslims. I saw that none of them resembled Aurangzeb, Genghes Khan or even Afzal Khan. They were like me. Middle class and struggling to survive. There was no reason to be hostile to them. I loved Urdu poetry, qawwalis and Urdu writings. I enjoyed Saadat Hasan Manto, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Ismat Chugtai and even Ibne Safi who wrote detective books. I also liked the songs sung by Mohammad Rafi, the music of Naushad and paintings of Maqbool Fida Husain.
My tryst with the progressive thinking too was brief. But let’s not get into that now.
I saw the Jan Sangh at close quarters during the emergency period and realised the strong network they have built up. They (and RSS) fought the tyranny of Mrs Indira Gandhi. I knew of the pracharaks or volunteers who would pick up pamphlets or handwritten messages and deliver them. It was fascinating but I kept away.
I saw Advani, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Pramod Mahajan and others at close quarters when BJP held its adhiveshan in Mumbai. I was a journalist and was covering them as a news-story. BJP was a disciplined lot. Advani was urging the party to spread its wings down south and about his dream of Ram Rajya.
Advani did bring ‘Ram Rajya’ and today BJP is ruling the country.
It is this obsession and single minded struggle that Jan Sangh became Bharatiya Janata Party and attained its dream. But it was his Rath Yatra that culminated in Babri Masjid demolition that divided the country once again after the partition.
It instigated riots and Mumbai bomb blasts. In fact, terrorism in India began after this. But BJP did come to power.
It happened when Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of a coalition government.
It also happened when Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister with an absolute majority.
And now, I don’t see any difference between BJP of today and Congress of yesterday.
Even Narayan Rane is joining the BJP and someone has said that Congress would be left with only three persons – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel.
If this is what they wanted, they all could have joined Congress! What’s in a name.