#BJP’s Desperate Search for Issues and Allies
The BJP claims to be the biggest political party not only in India but the whole world. But right in the midst of Assembly elections in five states, the party is betraying a desperate need for new or revived old issues and new partners to come up on top. To achieve its objective of coming back to power, the BJP and its allied organizations appear to be in desperate search for issues and allies, which can turn its fortunes.
Revival of #Ram Temple issue
The BJP and its mother organization, the RSS have revived again the perennial issue of building the Ram temple at Ayodhya. It is another matter that the BJP and some of its allied organizations always rake up the Ram temple issue before every electoral battle.
The BJP is also trying to increase its footprint in states and regions where it had earlier only a marginal presence. To an extent, the party has succeeded in creating a base for itself in most of the North-Eastern states where it had very little presence earlier apart from Assam. Through hook or crook, by defections from other parties or through alliances with regional parties, the BJP has now displaced the Congress from the pole position in the North-Eastern states. So much so, that the Congress is now the ruling party only in one North-Eastern state, Mizoram. In Mizoram also, elections are taking place in the current round and the BJP is making a strong bid to
oust the Congress from power there.
Ordinance or Law to build Ram Temple
Significantly, #RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat in his annual Vijaya Dashmi function in Nagpur this week sought, for the first time, adoption of the legislative route to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya. In his speech on Thursday, October 18, 2018, he said the government should pass a law for the building of a Ram temple at Ayodhya.
Mohan Bhagwat asked the Narendra Modi government to speed up the decision on the ownership of Ram Janmabhoomi and to make way for the construction of Ram temple through what he called appropriate and requisite law. This is the first time the RSS has called for legislative route to fulfill the demand for a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Earlier, Mohan Bhagwat had been saying that the RSS would wait for the court judgment in the case.
Deep south, in Kerala, the BJP is trying to expand its base in the Left ruled state by taking advantage of the developments surrounding the entry of women devotees in the Sabarimala temple. While the central leadership of the BJP had welcomed cautiously the Supreme Court judgment lifting the ban on women’s entry into the temple, the Kerala unit of the party has taken a contrarian position. The party unit is taking centre stage in organizing a state-wide agitation against the court judgment. Analysts say that the tactic may enable the BJP to expand its base in some segments of the state population.
The BJP also appears to be on a renaming spree. The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has already decided to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj. There are reports that Patna and Bhopal may be next in the list of cities to be renamed. The whole idea is that “non Hindu sounding” cities should be renamed. Ahmedabad may be renamed as Karnavati and Bhopal may become Bhojpal. There is also a move to rename Shimla in Himachal Pradesh as Shyamla.
On the eve of the elections, attempts are also going on to bring about defections from the Congress and other opposition parties to the BJP. In a major blow to the Congress in Chhastisgarh, its working President, Ram Dayal Uikey join back the BJP after a gap of 18 years. He had switched from the BJP to the Congress in 2000.
In another such development, two Goa Congress legislators quit the party to join the BJP this month. There are reports that three more Congress MLAs may follow them in the move to the BJP.
Focus on #Polarization
The BJP had come to power in 2014 by focusing on development and the alleged wide-spread corruption in UPA-II. The emphasis was on issues of governance like bettering the lot of farmers by increasing their incomes and other bread and butter matters like improving roads and infrastructure. But with the disastrous effects of #demonetization and a badly implemented GST regime, the BJP is increasingly focusing on issues which can polarize voters on religious lines. The call for an ordinance or parliamentary law to build the Ram temple at Ayodhya without waiting for the Supreme Court judgment on the matters pending before it Is a pointer towards what the BJP strategy is going to be in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections in half a year’s time.
Simultaneously, the BJP is trying to get the support of smaller regional parties and even influential individuals to further its objective of coming back to power.
Will the BJP take the plunge on Ram Temple Issue
The question is up to what extent the BJP would go to create a wave in its favour in the run up to the general elections next year. With the economy not doing very well and a virtual recessionary situation prevailing, resulting in job losses and the like, the BJP may be left with no choice but to move decisively on the Ram temple issue. For the record, the party has been saying that it will wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya matters pending before the apex court. But there is nothing to stop the government from acting at any point of time in “public interest”.
The opposition parties would do well not to rule out the Narendra Modi government taking the legislation route on the Ayodhya temple issue. Otherwise, they would be taken by surprise and would have no answer to the government’s political move.