June 24, 2005

Sullied image

He will likely not remember, but some 13 years ago, I had lunch with Sudheendra Kulkarni. I don't remember what we spoke about, apart from it being a friendly couple of hours (two other friends were also along, both of whom knew him well). In the years since, he has risen to prominence in the BJP, especially getting close to Messrs Vajpayee and Advani. No surprise, over those years I've found much to disagree with in several things he's said.

But now there's this that has brought him much further into the public eye than he has ever been.

Especially when considered along with Advani's recent visit to Pakistan, you get the sense that there is some introspection going on in the BJP. Then you read how various BJP leaders have reacted to Kulkarni: generally airy, sometimes angry, dismissals of these "personal views" of Kulkarni's, which have nothing to do with the party's ideology and beliefs. So maybe there is no introspection going on. Unless introspection itself means this churning. Perhaps.

Never mind. I still find things to disagree with in that paper by Kulkarni, but I'm astonished by some of the honesty in there. If the BJP is unwilling to reflect on the issues he raises, if it is intent on holding onto its fondest beliefs, it will never be the dominant political presence the Congress, as Kulkarni points out, manages to be (even if by default, and even when it loses elections). After all, as he also points out, the Congress, "in most of the elections held so far, has had more Hindus voting for it than the BJP or the Jana Sangh."

No surprise again, I have utter distaste for the BJP. (How much can an image be "sullied" that's already pretty dismal?) But there are lessons in Kulkarni's musings for the party, if they want to take them. I truly hope they will take them. And perhaps I need to find a way to lunch with Sudheendra Kulkarni once more.

1 comment:

?! said...

Any organisation with a reasonable momentum must churn up eddies and anticurrents, some of which, by virtue of their being against the prevailing thought in the rest of the cadre, would be termed introspective or self critical. What finally causes some ray of hope is that this process is now becoming slightly more public. Rather than harm the BJP, the less it is seen as a monomanaical monolith like the Shiv Sena and the more it is seen as a party with it's own internal checks and balances, the greater it's chances of reclaiming the centre-right Hindutva audience.