BJP under Modi: Politics as building party and nation - Hindustan Times

BJP under Modi: Politics as building party and nation

Jun 07, 2024 10:10 PM IST

The election result should definitely lead the party to find the fault lines. It is more capable of self-correction than any other party in the country

The 2024 Lok Sabha poll result paints an interesting picture. It gives hope to the moribund and fragmented Opposition, on the one hand, and ensures the continuity of the ideological and political advancement of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on the other. The BJP, of course, secured fewer seats than in 2019. However, that does not mean an erosion of its support base. It should not be forgotten that democracy is not purely a game of dice. Its success depends on the index of social, economic, and cultural advancement of the people. India under Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi shows a difference from India under Jawaharlal Nehru’s successors.

**EDS: SCREENSHOT VIA** Mathurapur: BJP supporters during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign rally for Lok Sabha polls, in Mathurapur, West Bengal, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI05_29_2024_000068B)(PTI) PREMIUM
**EDS: SCREENSHOT VIA** Mathurapur: BJP supporters during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign rally for Lok Sabha polls, in Mathurapur, West Bengal, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI05_29_2024_000068B)(PTI)

It is an undisputed fact that the party system plays a vital role in defining democracy and socio-cultural development. The Congress and its allies fail to understand the cultural aspirations of the people. They continue with the old economic models that kept India in a semi-subjugated state. Here, the vacuum has been filled by the BJP. Modi understood the importance of the party in ideological transformation. That’s why he did not remain content with the parliamentary majority that he secured first in 2014 and subsequently, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Under his leadership, the BJP corrected the imbalance of being a North India-dominated force by developing its social base in the South and the East. The last 10 years have seen a tireless effort to expand the BJP, both vertically and horizontally.

The 2024 election results exhibit the party’s success story. It is now a ruling party in Odisha and also a viable alternative ideological and political force in Kerala and West Bengal. Modi did not allow his concern for the party to get diluted, a phenomenon common among ruling elites. He himself acted as a vibrant agent to reach the grassroots through his vision and action. The changed nature of awarding the Padma honours demonstrates it. He also proved that denial of spirituality under the pretext of secularism is anathema in the Indian context, which gave him enormous goodwill among the people. It is Modi's exceptionalism.

It is a truism that contextualisation of India’s progress in terms of the BJP-RSS’s ideology can hardly be digested by those who have been groomed with a syllabus that is predominantly Nehruvian and Marxist in ideology. They love to deny the BJP a legitimate space. They do not hesitate to denigrate the BJP-RSS: Rahul Gandhi’s unfailing campaign against the RSS, reflecting a fallback to the Nehru era, exemplifies it. This relentless propaganda has made sure that the BJP is ever prepared to defend its ideology and political agendas.

That said, the BJP definitely has to gauge the reasons for the anti-incumbency against some of its MPs. Voting behaviour has shown an interesting phenomenon. The voters faced the dilemma of choosing between the BJP’s ideology and leadership, and anger against the candidates it fielded. Most of those who could understand this dilemma and succeeded in removing it won. Some of them failed. The election was not “Modi or No Modi”, but he dominated both classes of BJP voters, those who voted and those who didn’t vote with regret. This clearly shows that the social auditing of BJP representatives is essential to democracy. Voters enjoy much autonomy in the age of mass communication. It would be incorrect to assess them using the traditional parameters.

Parliamentary democracy is a means not only to govern but also to connect with the sentiments and aspirations of the people. It is here that, more than the high command, the role of local representatives becomes crucial. The assessment of governance, policies, and programmes is a daily plebiscite that cannot be done by the bureaucracy. MPs are supposed to be the bridge between the people and policymakers. It is applicable to every party and democracy. A section of the Indian intelligentsia always ferrets out opportunities to privilege their old politics and ideas.

Delusion is a dangerous phenomenon. It kills originality as well as potential. The Congress and its allies seem to be in a similar situation. They failed to liberate themselves from the delusion of being the natural rulers of India. As a corollary to this, they don’t hesitate to disregard the mandate that the BJP secures by virtue of its strength and ideology.

India witnessed a mutiny of pseudo-secular intellectuals after the 2014 elections. There is a wonderful contrast in their approach to Vajpayee and Modi. From the 1970s, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) and, later, the BJP began to cultivate a larger social base. All sorts of criticisms were levelled, including the appellation of “Hindu fascists”. When the party came into power in the 1990s, the BJP-RSS combined was compared even with the Ku Klux Klan. They shrewdly made a distinction between the organisation and its popular and credible leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, by calling him ”the right man in the wrong party”. Now, things have radically changed. Modi meticulously expanded the party in the South and the Northeast. He understood that in an ideological movement, everyone has to make their ideology the ruling one. Now, the BJP has become a pan-India party. He used his charisma to connect with the people at the grassroots, caring little for the metropolitan elites.

No other Indian leader has been as vigorously and contemptuously criticised as Modi in the West. The reason is not that he is championing the hard State in contrast to the soft State of Nehru and Vajpayee. Their dislike or abhorrence for him is based on their understanding of his persona. They find in him a thought leader whose creative endeavour is the biggest attack on the West’s hegemony. The West’s intolerance towards any such leader of the developing world is not disguised. They destroyed the image and support base of more than a dozen leaders from both the Left and Right-wing in Latin America since the 1980s. They failed here. Modi redefined politics by making it inclusive of spirituality and culture. This gives him both a political edge and cultural strength. Is it not ironic that western intellectuals and India’s Opposition have common vocabularies against him?

The BJP is an organised party, partly an electoral actor, and partly an ideological movement. The election result should definitely lead the party to find the fault lines. It is more capable of self-correction than any other party in the country. The people know its rule is not like that of other parties. It has a challenge and a mission to resurrect the nuances of a civilisational nation.

Rakesh Sinha is a member of the Rajya Sabha. The views expressed are personal

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