New Delhi: After the round of letter leaks and angry outbursts, the BJP leadership met in the Capital on Saturday to discuss what went wrong with campaign 2009. Party President Rajnath Singh came out with his own interpretation of Hindutva, while accepting responsibility for the defeat in the elections.
Amidst growing calls for giving up Hindutva and hardline policies, BJP is back to reaffirming its core identity. There has been a huge debate on whether there was ideological confusion that existed within the party during Elections 2009, but Rajnath Singh tried to set the record straight and insisted that there was to be no dilution of the party's core character.
BJP stands for Hindutva - not a hardline version as espoused by the VHP or even Varun Gandhi - but one that's more inclusive.
Hitting out at the likes of Arun Jaitley and Sudheendra Kulkarni who blamed the party's belief in Hindutva as the reason for its failure, Rajnath Singh said: "Hindutva is a geo-cultural concept which has a sense of respect and a place for everyone and it is a concept of co-existence. We welcome advice from society as amrit prasad. However, if someone advises us to sever ourselves from our very roots and remain attached only to the stem, in my opinion they are themselves confused and have not been able to understand the basic core of the BJP."
Party Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, while admitting that a failure to definitely define the Hindutva ideology led to the poll debacle, added an explainer. "The party President has said that we believe in Hindutva that's more tolerant and inclusive," he stated.
Meanwhile, there is still confusion about what version of the policy is actually being followed. Party leader Shahnawaz Hussein made this confusion clear when he said, "We believe in the Deen Dayal Upadhyay version of Hindutva."
In his Presidential speech, Rajnath Singh drew comparisons with the likes of Tilak and Shivaji, arguing that at one point even they were called right-wing leaders and were not supported, but that over a period of time their views became acceptable.
Taking full responsibility for the electoral debacle, Rajnath Singh asked his partymen to work in a united fashion.
Rajnath Singh has had to face criticism in recent days by top party leaders.
BJP leader Arun Shourie had recently questioned the party President in a letter saying: "The party's chief strategist was sitting in Delhi. Was he aware of the ground reality? Letters written by Jaswant Singh and Yahswant Sinha were leaked to the media. Jaswant Singh and Yashwant ji are no ordinary people. These are all intelligent people, who are former ministers. Their letters were leaked. I demand that you set up an enquiry committee to conduct investigation into this. Why are you (Rajnath) trying to cover this up. Who are you covering for? Six journalists are running the BJP, they are planting stories (in the media), You want an inquiry, but against whom? Why are you shying away from disclosing their names?
However, there were those who supported Rajnath Singh completely.
In response to Arun Shourie's letter, senior leader Sunder Lal Patwa hitback at all and sundry.
"Jaswant Singh says that he feels humiliated and so won't fight any election. How can Jaswant decide he won't fight elections? The party decides who will fight and who will not. You should be willing to sweep floors if asked by the party. Arun Shourie says Jaswant and Yashwant are big people. Let me tell you, that running a government and running a party in adverse situations are two different things. When things are going well, then everyone wants a part of the pie. When things go wrong, then they question you. They say that these people writing letters belong to the intelligentsia, let me say this, it's this intellectual class which needs intelligence today," Patwa said.
In the '90s, Leader of the Opposition, LK Advani rode the Ram Rath to propel the BJP to power at the Centre and he was called the hardline face of Hindutva. During the BJP's term in power from 1998 to 2004, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to be known as the soft face of Hindutva. Now as BJP leader Varun Gandhi gets blamed for the party's poor show, it is Rajnath Singh's turn to come out with his own definition of Hindutva.
DISSENT IN THE PARTY