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‘Unacceptable’ Inductions

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Not a day passes without one or the other opposition leader crossing over to the BJP. This indicates how strong a wicket the BJP is on at present. Much of it has to do with the Modi Government’s performance over the past ten years, reflected in the growth of the economy, particularly the nation’s infrastructure. The foreign policy has been spot on, bringing India to the topmost ranks of the world hierarchy. Arch-enemy Pakistan has been isolated in a manner that has led to its present implosion. This should continue till such time Pakistanis genuinely realise how imperative it is for survival to have good relations with India.

But is not just Prime Minister Modi’s performance that brings such large numbers to the BJP’s fold. The party represents a nationalist ideology that firmly rejects certain political givens which existed in government policy, earlier. These include a self-effacing interpretation of secularism that was not in accord with the spirit of the constitution, which led to what is now described as ‘appeasement’. The same goes for an unthinking reverence for socialism, which neither Mahatma Gandhi believed in, nor was in sync with the approach required for economic growth. Ironically, these two ideas merged in what was termed the ‘Hindu rate of growth’. Both these terms were implanted undemocratically in the Preamble to the Constitution during the Emergency. There also developed a new ‘ruling’ class that believed it was entitled to remain in power merely because of its association with the former colonials, either through education, or through the ‘transfer of power’.

The present-day Congress is associated with all of this in the minds of a large number of people. As such, the BJP has to be very careful that, while inducting defectors from other parties, it does not bring in those who represent the abhorrent politics of the past. They must have a reasonably clean slate in that regard. So, while a Scindia may be acceptable because his political clout is independent from the “Lutyen’s Crowd”, a Kamal Nath would alienate the voters. The BJP ‘washing machine’ may help somewhat in the case of ‘financial indiscretions’, it cannot wipe out a politically unacceptable past, such as the alleged attacks against Sikhs post Indira Gandhi’s assassination. A line has to be drawn with regard to such inductees even if they are eager to extend support. First and foremost, the party must maintain the ideological distinction that sets it apart from the Congress and this should be clearly visible. There is such a thing as paying too high a price for power.