BJP National Executive Committee member from Assam Prodyut Bora dramatically resigned from the BJP. In a four-page resignation letter sent via email, he alleged subversion of democratic traditions in the central government and the party. He was particularly harsh on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. In an interview with Dola Mitra, Bora spoke about why he took the sudden decision and why he thinks that Modi's party is subverting the democratic tradition. Excerpts:
Why did it take you ten long years to revolt against the BJP's style of functioning?
It was a different party when I joined it in 2004. I was drawn to the charismatic leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji and the values he stood for. It takes time and serious consideration before you take a decision like this. The process is gradual. Different people have different tolerance levels. You can't really put a date on when you begin to reach the breaking point. But then you do.
As a former national executive member you had close proximity to both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Why didn't you directly take up the concerns with them rather than take this route?
I want to make something very clear. The greatest part of my dissonance is with the state BJP in Assam rather than the central leadership and this should not be misconstrued.
But in your resignation letter you have voiced your concern about the lack of a democratic ambiance in the Modi cabinet and even about Shah's "arrogance".
Am I saying anything new when I point this out? But what I am essentially referring to is the propensity for "centralisation" which erodes the democratic fibre. And who says I have not communicated my concerns? Communications take place at various levels. But there has never been an attempt to address these concerns in a satisfactory manner. But again, my key concern remains the state of Assam and the political corruption that prevails in the state BJP.
What do you mean by political corruption?
Corrupt individuals are allowed to thrive within the party. I have mentioned names in my letter. How is it that a scam-tainted Congress leader like Himanata Biswa Sarma, who had known links ULFA, is allowed to come into the BJP?
But he has not joined the BJP. At least not yet.
Overtures are being made. The BJP is in talks with him in the state and discussions are on.
What would the BJP gain by inducting into its fold scam-tainted men like him?
This is one of my prime dissonances. The "get votes at any cost" strategy is something I cannot support.
There are suggestions that you may join the Aam Aadmi Party.
Who is suggesting this? Well, in politics it is difficult to say whether six months or one year down the line that may or may not become a reality, but at the moment there is not such plan.
It is said that your sudden decision is a fallout of the party's debacle in Delhi.
That would be doing disservice to the key concerns I raised in my letter. First, the results in Delhi do not bear any direct relation to the BJP in the state with which I am mainly associated with since 2010. But having said that, I am also aware of the dissenting voices within the party about decisions taken by the central leadership without so much as a need to consult workers at the ground.
Are you referring to the decision to name Kiran Bedi?
Yes, for instance. While there is no denying the personal reputation and even charisma of Kiran Bedi but party workers and leaders alike feel a sense of disbelief that the top leadership felt absolutely no need for consultation or discussion.
Some suggest that you had nurtured ambitions for greater roles whether in state or national politics and that you are disillusioned with the party for overlooking you.
This is highly speculative. As a politician I will not claim that I would not want to be in a position where I have the power to make decisions for progressive and positive change. But such was not the driving force behind my current decision.
As soon-to-be former BJP person, can you come clean on how much RSS influence is really exerted on the party?
The RSS acts as a kind of moral check on politicians and is a preventive mechanism against corruption and other ills. Its role in that sense is important. If the Congress had something like the RSS it would not have been rocked by so many corruption-related scandals.
How is it that in your case the RSS failed to do that…since unchecked corruption seems to be one of your main grievances?
(Laughs) I knew you would ask that. I think again the difference is in the presence in the state.