[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]F[/dropcap]or a supposedly pro-Hindu party, the use of a Biblical term to describe its politics is a bit odd, but that is how it is. The strategies and tactics employed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the last two decades, and especially in the last two years, can be most aptly described as burning bush politics.
The burning bush, as described in the Book of Exodus, was on Mount Horeb where Prophet Moses had his rendezvous with God. The miracle of the burning bush was that it continued to burn without getting extinguished. The BJP seems to have found its holy grail (sorry, another Christian, un-Hindu metaphor) in burning bush politics. It’s simple: keep talking about issues that are essentially Hindu, but never resolve any issue and never solve a problem; keep the pot boiling. And the burning bush is perfect fuel to keep the boiling pot.
The saffron party has long maintained that it is a party with a difference, that its uniqueness lies in its stand on ‘core issues’—the Ram Temple, the uniform civil code, and the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. As I wrote in an earlier article:
In the temple case, the government has not so far acceded to the demand made by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for day-to-day hearing. Whatever happened to saugandh Ram ki khate hain, mandir wahin banayenge? Why such reluctance?
Similarly, on common civil code, the Modi regime has made absolutely no efforts to move ahead. In the Shayara Banu case, the Supreme Court has been prodding the government to take some action, but to no avail. As for Article 370, the less said the better; the BJP is in alliance with a jihad-friendly party.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he duplicity and hypocrisy of the BJP in indulging in burning bush politics is for all to see, but it is also true that it has served the party’s purpose very well; from two seats in the Lok Sabha in 1984 to 282 in 2014, its graph has seen a secular rise (no pun intended). In the last quarter of century, the BJP has been the largest or the second largest party.
The strategy of keeping the pot boiling has also proved equally efficacious regarding other issues—bringing back the ill-gotten wealth stashed in overseas banks, punishing the corrupt, ending tax terrorism, giving relief to the middle class by hiking income-tax slabs, imposing costs on Pakistan for its export of terror to our country, punishing the culprits of Bombay blasts and 26/11, surgical strikes to eliminate terror camps in Pakistan, etc. It has been the same story all along—talk big, do nothing. By observing promises in the breach, the BJP has reaped a good harvest.
Interestingly, the party doesn’t feel embarrassed when reminded of the long list of unredeemed pledges it has made over the decades. Instead it goes on the offensive. When reminded of its promises by the Opposition, particularly by the Congress, the ruling party comes up a typical reply or rather retort: ‘Everything cannot be done in two years, yet we have done a lot in this period.’ And thus begins a litany of the Narendra Modi government’s zillion initiatives, schemes, and statements, the arcaneness and effectiveness of which is intelligible only to the spokespersons of the party.
The BJP’s retort often contains loads of abrasiveness for the Grand Old Party: ‘It takes a great deal of time and effort to clean the Augean stables which are of your making,’ or ‘In two years we can’t rectify every mistake you made in 60 years.’
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]s things stand now, the saffron party is going great guns. It is not only the largest political party but also six times the size of the second largest party, the Congress, which is in a mess. The other option—the jigsaw called third front—is, as always, in a continuous flux. The kaleidoscope is unlikely to become a telescope.
Further, the BJP has bounced back after its impressive performance in Assam. Last year’s defeats in Delhi and Bihar seem a distant memory. Modi still attracts huge crowds, and his popularity remains very high, even when people are not exactly happy with his government.
The long and the short of it is that burning bush politics has helped the BJP a great deal. The party intends to stay the course, accompanying this ploy with innumerable social security schemes and unending jamborees. Of course, you can’t fool all the people all the time, but you can surely fool them for a long time and remain in power, and that is all what Indian politics is all about.
At present, the danger to burning bush politics is not from without but within. What if the RSS’ patience runs out and it starts goading the BJP to address its core issues? And what do you do with the phenomenon called Swamy and his resolve to build Ram Temple? Whatever else his people may say about him, even his detractors cannot accuse him of lack of resolve. If his resolve bears fruit, the bush may get consumed by fire. That may become a problem for the BJP.