Caught in a busy week I thought the topicality of the issue would fade by the time I sit down to write. But thankfully, the BJP leaders have kept the issue alive till I am finally ready to attempt typing down my thoughts on the current crisis.
A book analysing the moderate facet of Jinnah showed the way out for an already alienated Jaswant Singh. Yaswant Sinha, another leader who does not find much scope for himself in the generational shift that is taking place in the party, put in an angry resignation. The third one, Arun Shourie who has been a key figure in the saffron intelligentsia, provokes party leadership with his characteristic verbal attack. And Sudheendra Kulkarni, a political professional timed his VRS with these high profile departures.
The exit of these leaders who have no mass base may not have immediate electoral impacts in states where the Party is facing elections. However, given the profile of these leaders what the BJP lost was its remaining moderate trappings.
In my view, two forces have led to the present situation. One, the retreat of the BJP into its original hardline position. That is, a conscious decision to harden its hindutwa postures by shunning all secular cosmetics. These leaders with non-RSS background would naturally find it hard to earn a place in the current scheme of things guided, designed and perfected by the Sangh.
In fact, they are part of the Vajpayee era, a master tactician who successfully balanced the core Hindutwa agenda of RSS and mainstream democratic politics. As Jyotirmaya Sharma once pointed out the arrangement between Vajpayee and RSS was mutually beneficial. RSS got a moderate mascot and in return Vajpayee enjoyed power and position.
Demolition man Advani could never grow to this space no matter how hard he tried. Having found that moderate pretensions to reach out beyond the core hindutwa constituency is not working, RSS has decided to consolidate and expand its core. In the process, it inadvertently or otherwise, underscored the fact that BJP is mere a political outfit of RSS and weeded out ‘alien elements’ in the party. (Muktar Naqvi and Shanavas Husain better watch out).
Another force that paved way for the exit of these leaders was the desperation and internal contradictions within them. By learning, experience and personal convictions, all of them are not fully in sync with the annihilation-driven ideology of RSS. In spite of Babri, Bombay and Gujarat, what glued them to the BJP were crumbs of power.
Jaswant, Sinha and Shourie were key ministers in the Vajpayee cabinet while Kulkarni enjoyed considerable media glare. Now the positions of power are increasingly few and far between. The association with a party with aggressive rightist character is not paying commensurate political benefit while its solidifying hindutwa postures discomfort them. So, at least Jaswant might have thought that this is time to escape the wrath of history and save some honour for himself professing syncretic culture and Hindu-Muslim unity.