Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alvida BJP!

August 17, 2009 was always meant to be melancholic. It was my 27th birthday. I mean, at this age, one tends to reflect back on life and see how I wasted it!

But little did I know, the day would trigger an event or two, that'll end my association with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Jaswant Singh released his book on Jinnah and gave out interviews that precipitated his expulsion from the party today, the 19th August.

This afternoon, I sent out my resignation from the Karnataka BJP IT cell. I had been a member only 6 months but I have felt one with the party for atleast 17 years. It all comes to a sad end today. For, having witnessed the staggering decline in its behavior, I do not hope or expect the BJP to be worthy of my vote let alone my active support in the foreseeable future.

But I shall remain a conservative (i mean right-liberal or classical liberal) and any other party or individual who can live upto my expectations, can bank on me for vote and non-trivial support.

The following are some memories of the BJP I have. I know this post is a bit vain, if not narcissistic. But its my blog and this post is important to me.

1. About a week after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, I remember buying a copy of the Tamil edition of the India Today (5 rupees) and eagerly perusing it. I clearly remember being frenzied and was perhaps even happy. I'm ashamed of it now. I guess this 27 year old man can forgive that 10 year old boy.

2. Sometime (1995?) during Narasimha Rao's reign, I remember Nitish Kumar speaking in Parliament amidst pandemonium. Some Bihari politician (Lalu Yaday?) shouted that a Bihari shud become the PM. Nitish countered it saying, "a bihari will definitely become the next PM, but it will be Atal Bihari!". BJP MPs went "ab ki bari, atal bihari!". I was sufficiently political and pro-BJP at that age to appreciate and rejoice at that scene.

3. I can vividly remember the 1996 swearing-in ceremony and the 13th day resignation speech of Atalji in parliament. Around this time, I fell for the charm of Pramod Mahajan.

4. The day after the results of 1998 elections were announced, I clearly remember the discussion in my moral science class. My 11th standard class teacher who also took this early morning class, mentioned that Pramod Mahajan's defeat was a shock to the BJP. I concurred and offered that Jaswant Singh's defeat in Chittorgarh was equally shocking. My teacher didn't know who Jaswant Singh was.

5. One evening, around 4.27 PM, I resturned home from school to catch the recap headlines of the Hindi news on Star Plus. 'The Wonder Years' was due at 4.30 PM. Pankaj Pachauri was ending his bulletin and wrapped up saying, "we will have more on the nuclear tests, India has carried out today, in our 7 PM bulletin". I could hardly believe my ears and lept in joy. Ofcourse to this day, I'm undecided whether those nuclear tests were the morally right thing to do.

6. A saturday afternoon, I believe in April 1999, I came out after writing my first paper in the Engineering entrance exam. I eagerly asked my dad waiting outside, "what happened?". He said, "they lost by one vote". Atalji's government had lost the confidence vote. I still wonder how I spent that night and went back to write the second paper next morning. I actually did well in that paper. I wish this 27 year old could stay focused like that 16 something teenager.

7. No matter what anyone thinks, I maintain that Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government (1998-2004) was the best India has ever had. I was witness to it and can brag about it for the rest of my life.

8. I only have fleeting memories of the Gujarat carnage in 2002. Brain does remember only what it wants to! But I recollect watching the burning train in the evening bulletin on Doordarshan. I can also recollect Atalji crying as he visited the riot victims later on. I vaguely remember the BJP Executive meeting (in Goa?) where the dubious decision directing Narendra Modi to seek early re-election was taken. However I confess that I buried my conscience and not until after the 2009 elections did I convince myself that Modi cannot and should not become PM.

9. I have lost relatives, friends, neighbors and have attended funerals. Infact a bit too many of them in the last two years. But Pramod Mahajan's death in May 2006, remains one of the few that made me feel really low.

10. Early this year, after having spent four years observing the US Republicans, I decided that I can no longer stay away from active politics and campaigned for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. I thought the party might just scrape through but on the eve of counting, I tweated defeat was certain. But I hadn't lost hope yet.

11. I continued my association with the BJP IT cell, even advocated internal democracy by writing emails that were frowned upon, created and contributed to, made a fan page for Sushma Swaraj, sought new direction for the party, portrayed a war between Integral Humanism and Hindutva and fought blog wars on the former's behalf.

12. Few months back, I was invited by folks (Anupam Trivedi) to a national level brain-storming session in Delhi involving senior most BJP leaders like Advani, Jaitley and Kulkarni. Ofcourse, mine was supposed to be one of the rank outsider's views on the Lok Sabha defeat. So, nothing to brag about. The meeting was botched by Rajnath Singh who ruled no 'chintan' can take place before the National Executive meeting.

I have never accepted Hindutva but understand that Religious Right is an integral part of the larger conservative movement. I'm very opinionated if not dogmatic. But I believe debate and disagreement also enrich democracy. By expelling Jaswant Singh for having a different opinion, BJP has crossed a line. Perhaps an umbilical cord. I'm cutting it. Its all over.


Vijay said...

I guess this 27 year old man can forgive that 10 year old boy -- nice!

Jaideep said...

a simple question. If there is an election tomorrow who would you vote for? The Congress?

Balaji said...

an independent.

Amar said...

Except perhaps on the nuclear test issue I can't seem to agree more with the other points you raise.

Atalji and Pramod are so missed today.

Mystique said...

totally agree that atal bihari's govt marked a golden era since the time i ve followed politics.

Indian Nationalist said...

I wonder how can the BJP even accept a traitor like you.....Shocking indeed!.

From now on, BJP should make a new law for membership where members will be watched and observed for an year before giving them party memberships.

vegymite said...

haha..hold on to that ubmilical cord for sometime. JS will be BJP's next PM candidate...and I will forgive that 27 year old boy.
nice write-up though. Not sure if I'll agree on the nuclear issue.


desiajay said...

Indeed Atalji is missed in and out of BJP..but the absence of Pramod is only felt acutely among the BJP brass...I do agree with almost half of ur points and equally realize that BJP is not a party now which once it was and shud be. With the expulsion of Jaswant BJP has shown that it does not represent and listen to the new ideas and it has no apetite for democratic rights . I am deeply pained at the affairs and direction of the BJP coz I have spent all my childhood in Shakhas and college life in working for BJP.

mohan balaji said...

My name is also Balaji. I also worked for the BJP. I was also a part of the Advani for PM. I came all the way from New Zealand to campaign for the BJP. But after all these incidents too, I dont regret for campaigning and was least surprised by the turn of events in the BJP. It is bound to happen. I had been in New Zealand and was a part of the Labour party's failed campaign. If you wish to be a follower in politics then you lose heart and say all these is non-sense. But if you aspire to be a leader of great recokning then all is a part of the deal. Remember when Dr. Radhakrishnan met Vajpayee for the first time, he asked whether there is any such party called Jan Sangh existed. But nobody remembers Sarvapalli today but people remember Vajpayee. That is politics. Nobody remember Seward who was the secretary of state during Lincoln's time and who happened to visit India. But a rough farmer with ugly looks and meloachanic temperament went on to become immortal in history. His name is Lincoln. Politics is tough and the toughest of all men or women survives. I hope this will be enough for you. I was with BJP and will be with them in future. You have to within the system to change the system.

Balaji said...

well, I agree one has to be in the party to change things. but its a bit more complicated in the BJP. there is the RSS shadow everywhere. there is not a trace of democracy even at the lowest levels.

i wrote an email expressing my displeasure at the lack of democracy, and was told to leave! i did chose to stay but expelling Jaswant is just too much. so I quit.

if the moderates now being thrown out of the party form a conservative party or say revive Swantantra Party, I'll surely join it. Even otherwise, I plan to contest elections myself one day :-)

Aditya said...

"Ofcourse to this day, I'm undecided whether those nuclear tests were the morally right thing to do."

Talking of which, I should recommend you two things. One is Arundhati Roy's essay, "The End of Imagination", you can find it here and the other is Amitav Ghosh's book, "Countdown".

Balaji said...

will read. thanks.

Madhu said...

I didn't expect this from you Balaji. You can't give up without a fight. Just because of few, you can't put your goals down.

Shreedhar said...

Balaji, well written. To be frank, I am on the same boat like you. I used to like BJP a lot. It doesnt mean I dont like it now. But, I like it less.

So, coming to your blog, I agree with BJP's achievements you have listed and Vajpayee was the best ever PM, India has had. No doubt about it.

What went wrong then?
1. Strong leadership.
2. Powerful / sensible organizing committee. (...of Pramod Mahajan calibre...)
3. Effective tactics to counter issues / problems of the people.
4. Ofcourse, infighting at the wrong time and for wrong issues.
5. I have started to see a change in the 'flavor' of BJP for the past 2 years - in the run upto elections. A bit authorative...just like congress. Earlier it used to be better.

So, I do hope they come back - for a simple reason...India needs a powerful opposition party.
(For once, I agree with Mr.Amar Singh of SP)

Such healthy discussions will improve us a lot. Thanks.

The Maverick said...

Boss, grow up. You leavin BJP is nobody's loss. Start looking beyond your nose

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, but a nutcase leaving BJP, isnt that for the better?