ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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BJP and Muslim Factor

Bangaru Laxman's overture towards the Muslims and minorities does not mean that the BJP has turned away from its ideological moorings. Rather, it is in keeping with the party's consistent shift of political stance to reach out to a wider vote base, appease its coalition partners, and remain securely in power.

Bangaru Laxman’s speech after being lected the BJP’s new president in ts Nagpur session aroused the particular interest of observers and political commentators. What was novel about the speech was Laxman’s directive to the BJP cadres to reach out to Muslims. The statement became almost a milestone in the history of the BJP, whose attitude towards minorities has been downright hostile. But here was Bangaru Laxman, a dalit trying to woo the minorities. Bangaru Laxman is reportedly prime minister Vajpayee’s choice and it is quite possible that this pro-Muslim stance was also adopted at his instance. The new team of office-bearers announced by Laxman contains mostly Vajpayee men. There are only three ‘RSS loyalists’. Is this new directive to be regarded as the compulsions of coalition politics or the result of a genuine change of heart on the part of the BJP ideologues? Different opinions have been expressed. However, the ground reality has been changing so fast that the BJP cannot maintain its old hostile attitude towards minorities, particularly towards Muslims. If it does, it will have to pay a heavy political price. Those who have followed the chequered history of the BJP’s evolution would know that it has never showed an ideological consistency. Shyama Prasad Mukherji formed the Jan Sangh supposedly with a wider base and disagreed with the RSS ideologues to maintain its ideological purity. He argued that in a democracy such purity is not possible. Shyama Prasad had served as a minister in Nehru’s cabinet and had different ideas from the narrow sectarian politics of the RSS.

However, the Jan Sangh could never free itself from the vice-like grip of the RSS, whose pracharaks formed its core. Often some hot-heads became its presidents. Balraj Madhok was one of them. When he became its president in 1967 the Jan Sangh adopted a militant line. In its Ranchi session the RSS adopted a resolution to ‘Indianise’ the Indian Muslims. However, there were also those in the Jan Sangh like Deen Dayal Upadhyay who propounded the theory of ‘integral humanism’ and thought that Muslims were ‘our flesh and blood’. But he was mysteriously pushed from a running train and killed.

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