Is there any connection between the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s traditional Vijayadashmi speech delivered in Nagpur and the Bihar assembly poll prospects of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA?
Very much and most visibly at that. The tone and tenor of his speech appears to be fine-tuned and crafted for enhancing BJP’s victory prospects. The RSS chief in his apparent “damage control” vocal acrobatics craftily side-stepped the controversial and sensitive issues currently under debate. While lauding the Prime Minister’s performance he simultaneously hailed Dr. Ambedkar’s contribution in safeguarding the interests of the downtrodden. It is a no-brainer that the Nitish-Lalu led “Mahagathbandhan” possibly had already milked maximum political mileage from his earlier contrarian opinions on the country’s stated reservation policy.
Voting for the third phase of Bihar elections took place on Wednesday — thus completing over fifty per cent of the 243 seats under contest. The BJP’s nervousness is palpable as it feels increasingly concerned and this is so on the back of speculation of a likely “NDA adverse” scenario in Bihar. The BJP leadership has repeatedly rubbished such speculation, dubbing it as “media manipulated” and “engineered” by forces inimical to Prime Minister Narendra Mod who spearheads the BJP election campaign. It is noteworthy that the NDA has not declared any Chief Ministerial candidate.
The RSS chief in his, not too catchy headline-making speech, deliberately or otherwise, chose to side-step three important issues. This certainly would not have gone unnoticed by the Sangh-watchers.
Firstly, Bhagwat not reiterating his much talked about views on the present reservation policy despite the heated debates, in Gorakhpur and earlier via an interview in the Sangh’s mouthpiece “Organiser”. On the contrary, Bhagwat began his 55-minute Vijayadashami address invoking the Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar and crediting him for instituting Constitutional provisions aimed at removing social and economic inequalities. The RSS chief thus about-turned on his earlier suggestion calling for a review of the reservation policy. He had stated then “…we should have an integral approach of welfare for all” indirectly implying that the aspirations of the upper castes should not be ignored.
Secondly, the RSS chief’s decision to distance himself from touching – even on the surface – the much talked-about and debated subject of’ “growing communal intolerance’’ in the country. This is an issue which has invited the wrath from all quarters including the august office of the President. A number of eminent writers and others have even returned their prestigious awards to protest.
Lastly, Bhagwat’s silent “refusal” to publicly express views on the incidents relating to the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, and the murder of a two-year-old boy and his 11-month-old sister, belonging to a Dalit family — after their home was set on fire in Faridabad in Haryana. Both these incidents have generated a lot of political heat and a number of senior functionaries of the BJP have issued controversial statements. The RSS chief, however, chose to write all this off describing them as “small episodes that get exaggerated and cannot damage Hindu culture and the country will always stand as one.”
It is also noteworthy that Mohan Bhagwat showered praise and gave kudos to the Modi Government saying that “India’s image in the world has improved. The situation within India has improved. There was an environment of disappointment two years ago, but now there is an atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm.’’
Most probably in light of the RSS chief’s fresh stand in his address and emboldened by the backtracking, the Prime Minister also declared in Bihar, that as long as he was at the helm nobody could touch the Constitutional guarantee of reservations for the poor and the downtrodden. It was perhaps for the first time that Narendra Modi decided to make such a scathing attack against the critics of the reservation policy. He had already endorsed the President’s concerns on increasing communal intolerance in the country.
While the political pundits are busy debating whether Bhagwat’s Vijayadashmi greetings would make any significant contributions to BJP’s prospects in Bihar, the president of the BJP, Amit Shah, is extremely upbeat and confident about the Party’s victory. Addressing an election rally in Aarah, Shah detailed the timeline of Nitish Kumar’s exit from office. He said “By 10 AM – on November 8, the day of vote counting, we will get the lead. By noon, we will get a majority. By 2 PM, Nitish will leave the Chief Minister’s house for the last time, to tender his resignation to the Governor.”
Shah’s reasons for this buoyant mood and solid confidence are said to be based on some hard calculations. These give the Party a tally of 150 seats–around 40 seats from the first two phases of 81 seats, and 90 from the third and fourth phases, out of a total of 105 seats; and, 25 in the last phase of 57 seats. On the other hand, the ‘’Mahagathbandhan” is equally over-confident of its victory prospects and said to be busy working hard on enhancing its victory margin.
It remains anybody’s guess as to what will happen if Amit Shah’s prediction falls short, even marginally, of his highly-placed dreams? Who would the party President then, publicly or privately, blame for a dismal outcome? On the other hand, what will be the event train, within and without the BJP, if the Modi-Shah duo defeating all odds, succeeds in taking the NDA to the top of the world?
The Bihar verdict, either way, and notwithstanding the encouraging speech made by the RSS chief on Vijayadashami, shall have rewritten the chapter of relationships between the Sangh Parivar and the BJP.