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 rightnews.in, 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 lkadvani.in 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.