The UP polls were a defeat for the BJP. The Delhi polls were pure disaster. The two polls ignited an inner-party debate. Why is BJP rolling downhill so fast? One view contends it is because the party's Hindutva is too diluted. The other holds that the party's governance and probity have suffered due to criminalisation and an overdose of Hindutva. So, is BJP suffering because of too much or too little Hindutva?
Muddle-headed media pundits have greatly exaggerated the positive electoral impact of Hindutva. They point to the BJP's rise from two parliamentary seats in 1984 to 86 seats in 1989. This was music to Advani's ears. He donned the mantle of architect of the BJP's rise.
The truth is otherwise. BJP got down to two seats in 1984 because the RSS sabotaged the party and helped the Congress. This columnist had warned Vajpayee he would lose, with information that the RSS was backing the Congress nationwide and Madhavrao Scindia in Gwalior.
The BJP rose in 1989 because of seat adjustments with V.P. Singh. In 1977, the Jan Sangh contingent within the Janata Party got over 90 seats precisely because of this same factor.
The BJP consolidated its vote bank and increased its tally in 1991 to 119 seats not because of Advani's rath yatra but due to the anti-Mandal sentiment generated by V.P. Singh. After he introduced the Mandal card, VP's own party fared very poorly despite the stupid myth perpetuated by media experts that Mandal was a vote-catcher. Caste had always been silently used in elections. Charan Singh used it most adroitly. He did not divide the backward castes through Mandal. He clothed caste calculations in class rhetoric by focusing on the urban-rural divide. When Charan Singh did use the Mandal card in 1979-80, he suffered badly in the polls.
The BJP right now is so badly discredited that it can be written off. The Delhi polls are a harbinger of its future. There is just one exceedingly remote chance for the PM to survive. He must split the BJP on the Hindutva issue. That might polarise national politics. Possibly, the whole nation could rally around him.
Otherwise, this columnist stands by his earlier warning. If the PM does not confront the VHP, he will go.
The stakes are chilling,
The future too bleak,
The spirit is willing,
Is the flesh too weak?