BJP’s evolution: from 1996’s Ramayana to 2018’s Mahabharata

They were both incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the preserver. Both Lord Rama and Lord Krishna were born on earth to fight evil and end injustice. Their paths could not have been more different. Yet, both are revered today all across the country, in different forms and cultures.

Rama chose to abide by the moral laws of propriety. While he was an incarnation of a God, he suffered all the earthly pains. At each stage, he chose to follow Dharma, and in the end, had to face suffering. This behaviour earned him the tag of “Maryada Purushottam”.

Krishna, on the other hand, chose a different path to fight evil. Krishna advocated that when battling an unethical evil force, there is no point in playing by the rules yourself. Hence Krishna is known for his “chhal-kapat” which he used regularly to beat his opponents.

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In 1996, BJP had Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Post the Lok Sabha elections, BJP had managed to get the most seats but fell short of having the majority. The President chose BJP as the single largest party and gave them time to prove their majority. In the end, the effort failed and Vajpayee resigned as the Prime Minister, after giving an emotional and stirring speech. In the speech, he reiterated that he had not indulged in any horse trading. Although allegations were flying around, he even referred to statements of opponents, which clarified that he was not the type of person who would wheel around with bags full of money.

In 2018, BJP had BS Yeddyurappa. He was in a similar position as Vajpayee. He chose to try each and every trick in the book to lure Congress and JD(S) MLAs to his fold. This is not an isolated incident. BJP has cobbled up questionable alliances in many other states. They have combined with parties who are not ideologically aligned to them.

The difference is clear. The idea of this post is not to claim either Vajpayee, or Yeddyurappa or Amit Shah are the next incarnations of Vishnu. The idea is to show the clear and undeniable evolution of BJP, from the “maryada purushottam” era, to the “do whatever it takes to win” era we see now.

This change in attitude will and probably has come as a shock to the BJP faithful who have been following the party from the time of Vajpayee. The machinations may also disgust some new “idealistic” supporters of BJP, especially the younger crowd. At the same time, many who have been licking their wounds inflicted by Congress’s own skulduggery would be enjoying how the tables have turned.

What is the right view here?

There is no singular right view. Hindu scriptures have covered both the views and both the protagonists are hailed as Gods. In effect, both methods have been justified and both strategies have been normalised.

The choice is left to us.

In the author’s humble opinion, the choice is determined by what the end-goal is: Do you want to be known and revered as the “ideal man” and yet be a loser? Or do you want to end on the winning side irrespective of the costs involved?

Secondly, as a person, as a group, as a civilisation, is it not your duty to learn from the past? Do humans not have the right and responsibility to grow and mature from their past experiences? As has been said: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is Insanity.

The BJP’s current choice of actions may flow from both the above:

A. They want to win.

B. They have seen what happens when only one side plays fair, hence they are playing by the rules which have been set by their opponents.

This obviously has caught the opponents off-guard. Their own tactics are now being used on them. All the chicanery which they had mastered and implemented over many years is being reversed on them. Yes, it will hurt them. It will hurt their allies in the media as well. And it is about time that it did hurt them as well.

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