Our beloved leader and Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee is no more. Tributes have poured in from all kinds of people, some sincere and some insincere. One thing that must be noticed is that some of these alleged tributes from liberal journalists, academics and thinkers have actually come in the form of putdowns, some subtle and some not so subtle, towards his party (BJP), his parivar (RSS) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It’s clear that these intellectuals seek to appropriate some part of Atalji’s legacy, as a way of snubbing the ruling BJP of today under Narendra Modi.
The reason I am writing this is to urge the Hindu right to be fiercely territorial about our beloved Atal Bihari Vajpayee. What does this mean? It means that those who treated him as an untouchable should not be allowed to claim even a needlepoint of his legacy.
Atalji’s legacy belongs to us on the Hindu right, all of it. Perhaps I will be called narrow-minded for saying this, but I am fine with that.
Forgive me, but I don’t want to hear the contempt-filled ‘praise’ that reminds us of how he was the ‘right man in the wrong party,’ or how he was broad-minded ‘despite being from the Sangh’. And if I hear one more liberal talk about the ‘soft’ Vajpayee versus the ‘hard’ Modi, I am going to scream.
They think Vajpayee was soft? Ha! He was a fierce man who struck at the root of the Dynasty’s rule in India. Together with Advani, he built the only national alternative to Congress, carrying the party from 2 seats to 182 seats. He became the first Prime Minister of India from a “non-Congress gotra” and kept his position for six whole years. The only reason the “liberals” suddenly love him today is because he has passed away and is no longer a threat to the power ambitions of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Liberals only love you when you are no longer in a position to challenge their privileges. They are not fooling anybody here.
Atalji was what he was, a lifelong Swayamsevak. The organization moulded him and he moulded the organization. This is our Atalji:
In his poem, “Hindu tan man, Hindu jivan, rag rag Hindu mera parichay,”Atalji challenges the “sons of Akbar” to tell us how many mosques we Hindus have broken in Kabul.
So, those who are allergic to the word Hindu, those who can associate the word Hindu only with Taliban and Pakistan and terrorism, may please excuse.
So, when a liberal pays a faux tribute to Atalji they must be mocked for their pathetic state. The credibility of liberal elites and the credibility of their Dynasty is so low today that heaping praise on Vajpayee is their only hope of being seen favourably by the people. Second, they must be reminded of the times Vajpayee and his party were treated as untouchables by the secular establishment.
What do I mean by treating him as an untouchable? We can start with the Gandhi Dynasty that threw him in jail during the Emergency.
But that is hardly where it ends because the ‘other side’ treated him no better. The Janata Party conglomerate won 298 seats in the General Elections of 1977, out of which the Jan Sangh had the largest contingent of 93 MPs. As a matter of natural justice, most of the key positions in the Janata government, including the post of Prime Minister should have gone to the Jan Sangh. Possibly, Atalji should have become Prime Minister in 1977 itself.
But that did not happen. Far from it. Even for the Janata Party constituents, Atalji and his party were untouchables. Despite the fact that the Janata Party had come to power riding on the back of the anti-Emergency struggle led by the Jan Sangh. Despite having 93 out of the Janata Party’s 298 seats, the Jan Sangh was offered just 3 ministerial positions, one each for Vajpayee, Advani and Brij Lal Verma.
The punishment for untouchability did not end there. The other constituents of the Janata Party committed themselves to bullying, harassing and kicking out the Jan Sangh members. A policy against ‘dual membership’ was introduced, which was essentially a way to target Jan Sangh members who were almost all members of the RSS as well. Ultimately, the Jan Sangh members were formally expelled after the 1980 election. The Janata Party chose to hand the country back to the Gandhis rather than give the ‘untouchables’ from the Jan Sangh a fair share of power.
Even after the 1996 results, when the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Parliament, Atalji and his party were isolated and consigned to the opposition benches. Unfortunately for the secular establishment, what made history in the 11th Lok Sabha was not the two forgettable Prime Ministerial puppets put up by Congress. Instead, it is Vajpayee’s speech before quitting his 13-day government that will be remembered by the people.
People forgot the zamindars of the Lok Sabha but remembered Vajpayee, the one who was treated as the untouchable.
He is not here today or he would have scorched the insincere and fake tributes with his fiery oratory.
The Hindu right has now found its way with a new leader and that is Narendra Modi.
The right-wing or Narendra Modi don’t have to be taught Atalji’s legacy because Narendra Modi is that legacy. A robust Prime Minister from the BJP who has his own majority in the Lok Sabha. The foundations were laid by Vajpayee and Advani.
Don’t believe me? Here is Atalji mocking all these so-called “liberals” when the BJP stunned the liberal establishment by emerging as single largest in 1996:
“ये कोई आकस्मिक जनादेश नहीं है ये कोई चमत्कार नहीं हुआ है। हमने मेहनत की है, हम लोगों के बीच में गए हैं, हमने संघर्ष किया है। ये साल की 365 दिन चलने वाली पार्टी है।”
(This verdict of the people is neither unexpected not a miracle. We have worked hard, we went to the people, we struggled. This is a party that runs 365 days of the year.)
Hear that? A party that runs 365 days! Can we hear the echoes of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in those words? In Vajpayee’s words, can we hear Amit Shah mocking the lazy naamdar who needs to party for at least 250 days a year?
They shouldn’t dare teach Modi about the legacy of Vajpayee because Modi himself is that legacy. It is true that Atalji had a very big heart and was often more generous to his enemies. And it is true that Modi has taken some lessons from Vajpayee’s term in office. The “liberals” shouldn’t worry about driving a wedge there because they won’t find any.
Rather, the liberals should worry about the day when they have to line up and express admiration for Narendra Modi because the next PM from the BJP would probably treat them worse.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.