Swamy spills the beans: Po­lar­i­sa­tion agenda

The Free Press Journal - - WORLD -

What will be the poll plank of the BJP and PM Naren­dra Modi for the 2019 par­lia­ment elec­tions? De­vel­op­ment and cor­rup­tion were two ma­jor poll is­sues in 2014 when Modi was pack­aged as Vikas Pu­rush (mes­siah of de­vel­op­ment). Both these is­sues have lost their sheen. De­vel­op­ment or “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” have not reached the sub­al­tern while cor­rup­tion slo­gan has lost its shelf life. The BJP it­self has made a mock­ery of anti-graft cru­sade by not en­act­ing the Lok­pal bill and en­rolling cor­rupt lead­ers from Trinamool Congress, Congress, Bel­lary Red­dys and B S Yed­dyu­rappa, and its covert out­reach to YSR Congress chief Ja­gan­mo­han Reddy fight­ing cor­rup­tion charges. Four years down the line ques­tions are be­ing asked: Was Modi’s de­vel­op­ment mantra a fig leaf and the real agenda com­mu­nal po­lar­i­sa­tion? None other than se­nior BJP leader Subra­ma­nian Swamy has con­firmed this.

Once firmly en­sconced in the driver’s seat Modi took a de­tour, puz­zling even the cor­po­rate world and the eco­nomic Right, to­wards an ide­o­log­i­cally laden ter­rain. Many state elec­tions af­ter 2014 have wit­nessed ag­gres­sive pitch­ing of di­vi­sive is­sues rather than de­vel­op­ment. Even dur­ing the Gu­jarat elec­tion, Modi’s own state, the PM spoke less of de­vel­op­ment and harped more on the com­mu­nal nar­ra­tive. Same was the case in Bi­har in 2015 and Kar­nataka in 2018. That the po­lar­is­ing project has been a care­fully crafted strat­egy fine-tuned way back in 2012 was re­vealed by Swamy. Dur­ing a tele­vi­sion talk show on May 5, BJP’s stormy pe­trel spilled the beans with­out bat­ting an eye­lid.

Swamy said that the BJP strat­egy has been to re­verse the Congress’s win­ning elec­toral strat­egy, that is to di­vide the mi­nori­ties and unite the Hin­dus and that “Hin­dutva” will be used for the 2019 polls. Par­tic­i­pat­ing in a NewsX Round­table dis­cus­sion mod­er­ated by its ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor Priya Seghal and at­tended by se­nior jour­nal­ist Arati R Jerath, pol­icy an­a­lyst and po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor San­jay Baru and Congress spokesper­son Ab­hishek Manu Singhvi, Swamy, an­swer­ing a ques­tion on why the BJP was look­ing back­ward and why its en­tire fo­cus is on his­tory, said “I have stud­ied elec­tions since 1952 and pe­riph­er­ally eco­nomic is­sues come up.” Ad­vert­ing to for­mer Prime Min­is­ters Indira Gandhi, Narasimha Rao and Va­j­payee, he said “mod­ern” out­look is not of much use and that BJP cadre is not en­thused “un­less we bring in Hin­dutva and cor­rup­tion.” It is not clear if he is say­ing that Modi’s lack of “mod­ern” out­look is help­ing the BJP.

Pat­ting him­self Swamy said “I would not have been in BJP to­day... I would be like Ram Jeth­malani and Arun Shourie and oth­ers but for the fact that there is a lot of sup­port for me in BJP and that is why I am in BJP and get away with what I am say­ing from time to time.”

He said: “Our anal­y­sis, of the so called Sangh type in­tel­lec­tu­als, first of all, is that for years, the Congress win­ning for­mula has been that to cre­ate divi­sion in the Hindu com­mu­nity and unite the mi­nori­ties and we came to a con­clu­sion, I think in 2012 in a think tank meet­ing, that we should re­verse this, you know, our ap­peal to Hin­dutva is well recog­nised and then this Hindu ter­ror hap­pened and there was this threat of putting all top peo­ple in Jail (read RSS lead­ers)... even Mr Chi­dambaram had is­sued a war­rant against my name for writ­ing a book on “De­ter­rence Against Ter­ror­ism”. So, the feel­ing was very strong that we should now try to unite the Hin­dus and di­vide the mi­nori­ties to the ex­tent we can and the process is con­tin­u­ing, the Triple Talaq has di­vided men and women in the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, we saw that in UP. The Congress has been try­ing to di­vide the Hin­dus on caste, which is more danger­ous thing, we were try­ing to unite Hin­dus say­ing caste is not im­por­tant, what is im­por­tant is that Hin­duism is in dan­ger... To­day we would think if Congress comes to power it will be cat­a­strophic for us, so, there­fore, this Hin­dutva thing will be done in 2019.”

Call it in­tel­lec­tual dis­hon­esty or dim-wit­ted anal­ogy, Baru was the only par­tic­i­pant who en­dorsed the Hin­dutva project. “I think Mr, Swamy was hon­est in say­ing... to mo­bilise the cadre you have to as­sert your ide­o­log­i­cal com­mit­ment which is true in any po­lit­i­cal party. I mean, the Left for ex­am­ple — the mes­sage to cadre is al­ways hard core Marx­ism, but to at­tract the non-com­mit­ted vote, gen­eral vote, you have to then talk about the fu­ture, the as­pi­ra­tional is­sues, so a plat­form that appeals to your own cadre mixed with the plat­form that appeals to the gen­eral voter is not a con­tra­dic­tion. It is a nat­u­ral way in which ide­o­log­i­cal based po­lit­i­cal par­ties try to, for ex­am­ple take caste based par­ties, Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav, he has to first ap­peal to the Ya­davs and then he can look for the Mus­lim votes, Dalit votes or the other votes, if the Ya­davs ditch him, he is gone”. Not an in­tel­li­gent com­par­i­son; did the Left or the Sa­ma­jwadi Party ever preach ha­tred against fel­low cit­i­zens, ad­vo­cated ma­jori­tar­i­an­ism or chang­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion?

Events that un­folded be­tween 2012 and 2014 may cor­rob­o­rate Swamy’s dis­clo­sure about the think tank meet­ing. A mul­ti­tude of web­sites and out­fits such as In­dia Against Cor­rup­tion, Save Democ­racy, Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha, Youth For Democ­racy, Truth about In­dia Cor­rup­tion, to name a few, sprung up to bol­ster the anti-Congress cam­paign; Anna Hazare and Arvind Ke­jri­wal were drafted to lend moral cred­i­bil­ity to the move­ment. Hazare sat on dharna de­mand­ing the Lok­pal — billed as a panacea for cor­rup­tion. Such was the suc­cess of the strat­egy that di­ver­gent forces — Bol­ly­wood ac­tors, cor­po­rate hon­chos and even anti-cor­po­rate so­cial ac­tivists like Medha Patkar, Com­mu­nist and Church lead­ers flocked to Hazare at Jan­tar Man­tar. Rest is his­tory. Ke­jri­wal be­came CM, Ki­ran Bedi be­came Gov­er­nor, some other “cru­saders” in­clud­ing jour­nal­ists are gain­fully em­ployed by the BJP dis­pen­sa­tion, Lok­pal given a de­cent burial, graft is back with a bang; over to 2019.

The writer is an in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ist.

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