While speaking at Diwali-Milan function organised at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Oct 28, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a veiled warning to his own party men said BJP is speaking in different voices.
He called for a debate on internal democracy in political parties, asserting that the growth of “true democratic spirit” within them is necessary for the country’s future. But how he had responded to even the very mild critical views of his party’s elected representatives and cadre on the Demonetisation and GST was also reported widely in the media. Dissenting opinions of senior leaders like Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie were ridiculed as the frustrated voices of job aspirants @80. That is really the true democratic spirit of the Modi sarkar and the BJP.
He pointed out that funding to political parties is often debated but not their values, ideologies, internal democracy and how they give opportunities to the new generation of leaders. Funding of political parties is no less important than their values, ideologies and internal democracy. He is at a weak wicket in the case of funding his party and hence the deliberate diversion. How has he given opportunities to the new generation of leaders is well exhibited in the post-Modi era in Gujarat with leaders of thaluka level calibre are entrusted with the state’s administration.
The country, he said, is not much aware of the practice of democracy within parties and the media should turn its attention to it. “Whether democratic values are a part of their (parties’) core values or not, should be debated widely….I believe the development of a true democratic spirit within political parties is necessary not only for the country’s future but also for democracy,” he said. Shourie’s ridicule that BJP government is a government of 2.5 persons (Modi, Amit Shaw and an in house lawyer) tells the true democracy prevailing in Modi dispensation. Standard Operating Procedure of the Modi sarkar, according to Shourie, is to abuse the critics.
Modi also acknowledged that there are many voices within the BJP as he noted that when it was a small organisation earlier or during the times of Jana Sangh, its forerunner, there used to be “ideological harmony” from its central leadership down to workers in the bottom rung. The party’s expansion might be a reason behind divergent views, he said.
His reported belief that the development of a true democratic spirit within political parties is necessary not only for the country’s future but also for democracy and his distaste over many voices within the BJP do not go together. When the internal discussions are choked, the dissent bursts out in different forms to reach the public. Should there be complete unanimity over the ideology within the party?
Barring the core ideologies, divergent views on a party’s policies and programmes are very normal. Even the core ideologies change with time. Party issues are public issues and they need to be discussed publicly. To expect complete unanimity is undemocratic and it amounts to regimentation. Though all the political parties dislike the differing views within the party, BJP is a class by itself in this respect because of its regimented upbringing.
The most prominent ideologue of the RSS, Guru Golwalkar, while addressing a gathering of top ranking RSS on March 16, 1954, at Sindi, Wardha, said, “If we say that we are part of the organisation and accept its discipline then selectiveness has no place in life. Do what is told. If told to play kabaddi, play kabaddi; if told to hold meeting, then hold meeting….For instance some of our friends were told to go and work for politics that does not mean that they have great interest or inspiration for it. They don’t die for politics like fish without water. If they are told to withdraw from politics then also there is no objection. Their discretion is just not required.” (Shri Guruji Samagar Darshan – Vol III, P 32).
In another significant statement, Golwalkar said, “We know that some of our Swayamsevaks work in politics. There they have to organise according to the needs of work public meetings, processions etc., have to raise slogans. All these things have no place in our work. However, like the character in a play whatever role has been assigned should be portrayed with best of capability. But sometimes Swayamsevaks go beyond the role assigned to a performer (Nat) as they develop over-zealousness in their hearts, to the extent that they become useless for this work. This is not good.” (SGSD – Vol IV, P 4-5)
Golwalkar while addressing a group of 1,350 top level cadres of the RSS in 1940: “RSS inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this great land.” (SGSD Vol I – P 11). This decree of ‘one flag, one leader and one ideology’ was also the battle cry of Fascist and Nazi parties of Europe in the first half of 20th century. What they did to democracy is well-known to this world.
We find here Golwalkar referring to the Swayamsevaks loaned to the political satellite as performers (Nat) who are meant to dance to the tune of the RSS. It should be noted here that Golwalkar’s above design of controlling the political arm was elaborated in March 1960, almost nine years after the establishment of the Jana Sangh (the forerunner of the BJP) in 1951. If the leaders of Jana Sangh/BJP are supposed to be ‘nats’, just imagine the plight of the party’s cadre? The naked truth is that RSS makes its cadres spineless. As a pracharak of the Sangh and a disciple of Guru Golwalkar, Modi has dutifully converted the government and the party into spineless nats.
In a democratic form of state, the government comes first, the organisation or the party next and the leader comes in the last place. But in Modi’s dispensation, all the three are rolled into one entity that is Modi. Strangely he and his government are not accountable to the party; but the party is answerable to him. And his government is answerable to an unconstitutional authority headquartered at Nagpur. Because he, his party and the government are mere performers. Yet he audaciously gives a grandiose lecture on true democratic spirit and inner party democracy.
Reference: “An Open Letter to the ‘Hindu Nationalist’, Narendra Damodardas Modi Ji, Chief Minister of Gujarat” by Shamsul Islam – http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv19n2/letter.htm
Sankara Narayanan is an independent writer