The VHP leaders concluded that dilution of the Hindutva agenda was the prime cause of the BJP's defeat. A short while earlier, Iron Man L.K. Advani had reached a similar conclusion. At the BJP national executive meeting in Mumbai, Shri Advani told his followers that the BJP erred in ignoring the sentiments of its core constituency, the RSS and VHP.
Alas, Shri Advani's belated wisdom did little to assuage the wounded feelings of the VHP leaders. Along with their favourite target, Shri Vajpayee, the VHP castigated Shri Advani in language equally harsh. They accused the BJP of betraying the Hindu cause and following the lead of secularists such as those in the Congress.
So what was the remedy? Why, what else but offering the Congress full VHP support if it protected the interests of the 85 per cent Hindus! "If it protects the interests of 85 per cent Hindus, we will support Congress," declared Shri Togadia.
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh studied at faraway Oxford. He is unlikely to be conversant with the finer points of high-tech Hindutva. He is determined merely to protect the interests of 85 per cent Indians who live in rural India or migrate to cities. So, for a start he visited families of those farmers in Andhra who had committed suicide because of debt and poverty. He assured them and other farmers all over the country that his government would give them prime attention and help. Did the PM miscalculate? Had he protected the interests of the 85 per cent Hindus by announcing the immediate construction of a Ram temple, would not desperate farmers contemplating suicide have changed their minds? What a golden opportunity the PM missed of ending rural suicides!
No wonder the VHP leaders got a premonition that the PM might unwisely reject their generous offer of support. That is why they devised Plan B. They could float a new forum to protect the interests of the Hindus. In other words, make a new Hindu party.
A new Hindu party would bring a defining moment in India's history. Eighty-five per cent Hindus would be pitted against 85 per cent Indians—living mostly in rural areas. This 170 per cent of the population would then decide whether they are Hindus or Indians, whether they would follow Ashok Singhal or Manmohan Singh.
(Puri can be reached at email@example.com)