Photograph of Anil Chawla

An Open Letter with Five Advices to My Friends in BJP

Author - Anil Chawla

My Friends in BJP


Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has suffered a terrible defeat in Bihar legislative assembly elections. Coming immediately after the drubbing in Delhi, this shows a fundamental flaw in the BJP-RSS strategy and approach. While critics of BJP are rejoicing in the fall of the party, we, who claim to be well-wishers and friends of the party, are sad and pained. We know that you have good intentions. Unfortunately, good intentions alone are not sufficient for ruling a country as big and diverse as India.

I do not know whether you feel the need for my advice. My attempts to talk to you have failed miserably in the past. Nevertheless, as your friend and well-wisher (even though you do not probably think of me the same way) I consider it my solemn duty to advise you.

Beyond the fact that I consider myself as your friend and well-wisher, there is the fact that I still consider you as the great hope for India, my country. Hence, when you make mistakes I feel obliged to advise you the correct course of action. In your arrogance, you ridicule me; but I continue with my attempts in the hope that someday you will listen to me and other sane voices.

With hope in my heart, I am giving you five points of advice as follows:

1.     Respect and Take Care of the Learned

This is the most fundamental tenet of Hinduism. Yet, BJP and RSS leaders insult the learned more often than not. Even though you do not agree with some learned person, you must never insult him or her.

Leftists, imperialists and many others have not been fair to Hindu thinkers and scholars. No one knows it better than I do. Just because they have been badly behaved does not give me the license to behave badly. Hindu mind, which is the core of India's mindset, does not tolerate a learned person being abused by someone less learned. When you call bad words to any learned man or woman, the country turns away from you.

Intellectual debates are carried out by learned persons sticking to some rules of the game. Most of you have no ideas of the way such debates are carried out. You often enter these debates like a brute with a sledgehammer with no respect for the traditions of the intellectual process. With your brutish actions, you leave everyone dumbstruck. You think that you have been victorious and have demolished everyone when in fact you have done immense damage to your own cause.

The way to enter an intellectual debate is to field someone who is as learned as the opponents. Of course, this requires that you have with you as part of your team some learned persons who can engage in intellectual debates following the rules of the game. In the clergy / hierarchy dominated setup of BJP and RSS it is easier said than done.

BJP and RSS organizational ideology is based on building bonds of the heart. People with a mind are ridiculed and looked down upon. They are accused of indulging in "buddhi vilas" (luxury of the mind), which is uttered in the tone of accusing someone of intellectual masturbation. The derogatory word, "presstitutes" used in recent times for media persons also stems from a deep dislike of all persons who indulge in any intellectual activity. Let me assure you that it gets you no friends even when you think that you have been smart in inventing a word similar to prostitutes.

You claim in private conversations that you are not bothered by the opinion of educated persons since most of them do not vote anyway. This is absolutely wrong and plainly stupid. Educated persons are great influencers. They directly and indirectly create the intellectual mood of the society. There is no way that anyone can rule over India if the person does not have the educated persons of the country on his side.

Let me give an example from Mahabharat. Pandav brothers won the war even though when the initial planning for the war began they had practically nothing. Pandav brothers, however, had the support of great minds like Krishn, Ved Vyas, Vidur, their priest Dhaumy and almost all Brahmins of Hastinapur. On the other side were also learned men like Dronacharya and Bhishm. Pandavs were victorious because they obeyed the dictates of the learned men on their side; while Duryodhan lost because he believed in ordering the learned men who were with him.

If you wish to be victorious in the long run, you have to respect the learned men, listen to their advice and also take care of them.

Let me also give another example - this time a mundane one from present day. Please go to any district court or high court across the country and ask for the names of top ten advocates in the court. It is most likely that seven or eight or nine out of the top ten advocates will be aligned with some party other than BJP. This is true even in states like Madhya Pradesh where BJP has been in power for more than a decade. In BJP ruled states, BJP affiliated advocates may well be in majority and may be controlling the bar bodies, but in terms of top competent advocates BJP often draws a blank. So much so that when the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh needed a competent lawyer in the High Court for a personal case, he relied on a thoroughbred Congress lawyer.

Reasons for this are not too far to seek. BJP rewards loyalists and not knowledge. Lawyers who spend their time on books and in courts have no time to go and lick the feet of BJP leaders. BJP has built a reputation of only rewarding feet-lickers. So, learned competent lawyers, generally speaking, shun BJP. Feet-lickers offer a great experience. But, they are useless when it comes to fighting legal battles or drafting new laws.

If BJP has to emerge as a party of governance, it has to get over its reputation as a party that rewards feet-lickers. BJP must learn to respect and take care of the learned.

2.     Reward the Talented and Deserving

A friend recently told me that the rule in BJP is, "If you think that you deserve it, you must never get it". His explanation was that anyone who is convinced about his capabilities for a position or role is not going to be obliged if he gets it. On the other hand, someone who is thoroughly convinced that he or she does not deserve the position or role and yet gets it, will be most obliged and will always be subservient. The friend gave me many examples to prove his point. Surely, each of you will have many such examples up your sleeve. So, I shall skip the examples.

The fact is that BJP, as an organization, does not have reputation as one that rewards talent and capabilities. BJP governments have never gone out of the way to pick on outstanding talent in any field.

Someone once told me the story of two farmers. One farmer would always go and look for the best, most energetic calves to buy. The other farmer always bought experienced bulls with large years of experience behind them. The young calves were often unmanageable and would sometimes hurt their master. Old bulls are always so docile, disciplined and obedient. Needless to say that the farmer who bought calves prospered and the farmer who bought old bulls perished.

BJP needs to move away from getting docile, disciplined and obedient animals. Please realize that there is no substitute for talent. Politics needs thousands and millions of small guys raising slogans, but more importantly it needs men and women who inspire confidence in the masses with their vision, strength, leadership, character, knowledge and personality.

BJP has been lucky to have thousands of extremely capable and talented men and women knock on its doors. BJP's biggest mistake has been to treat such men and women most shabbily. It is high time that BJP corrects this.

3.     Be Grateful

Hinduism lays great stress on being grateful. An ungrateful person is considered the worst sinner. As per Hindu texts, even a doctor should not treat an ungrateful person (not even give a glass of water) and let him die. Being smart and taking advantage of a helping person is considered most unacceptable in Hinduism.

Surprisingly, the party that claims to be the flag-bearer of Hinduism in India is accused of being ungrateful. In private conversations one can hear innumerable examples of ungratefulness of BJP leaders. I can tell many such stories from personal experiences. However, I shall restrain myself from doing so since I remain your friend and well-wisher.

Prashant Kishor

Let me just mention about Prashant Kishor, who quit a job as a UN health expert in Africa in 2011. Kishor is credited with forming a group which devised the strategy to project Narendra Modi as the face of good governance in 2012 Gujarat elections and later in parliamentary elections with resounding success. After getting such excellent results, BJP should have been eternally grateful to this 37 year old man and should have taken care of him and his family for decades to come. Instead, BJP let him walk into Nitish's camp. Rest, of course, is history.

As a Hindu, I believe that the Cosmic Being punishes ungratefulness in a very harsh manner. BJP is known for its inability to retain friends and allies. In recent months, some of the closest friends of BJP have turned against BJP. This is a bad omen and must be taken very seriously. BJP will do well to introspect and analyze its record as a grateful person.

I ask each of my dear friends in BJP - please look at your own behavior and also of others in BJP. Please make sure that you are always grateful for every favor or service that you receive. Let it never be said that you cheated on your friend or took advantage of someone who trusted you! Let it never be said that doing you (or BJP) a service or favor is a waste!

4.     Follow Hindu Dharm and Not Hindutva

I greatly respect the historical role played by Hindu Mahasabha in the history of India. Madanmohan Malviya, Lala Lajpat Rai, Veer Savarkar and Swami Shraddhanand were truly great men who inspired generations. Hindu Mahasabha ceased to be a force in Indian politics sometime in the middle of last century. Cow slaughter was a favorite subject of Hindu Mahasabha about five decades ago. Even at that time, it failed to help Hindu Mahasabha emerge as a credible national political force.

Much water has flown in the Ganges during the past five decades. Hindutva as defined by Veer Savarkar is passe. Hindutva as a geography-based ideology had relevance at the time when it was propounded. In the past century or so, there has not been a single thinker who has contributed in any significant way towards taking the idea of Hindutva forward. It may be worthwhile to mention here that Ekatm Manavvad (Integrated or Monistic Humanism) propounded by Deendayal Upadhyay was a break from Hindutva and not an extension of Hindutva.

Narendra Modi came to power, not on the Hindutva platform, but by talking about development. It is clearly too late in the day to try to latch on to Hindutva. Also the ideological framework of Hindutva is rusted in the absence of any new innovations and inputs.

Hindutva becoming unfashionable does not in any way reflect on the popularity of Hinduism or Hindu philosophical and ideological framework. Hinduism or Hindu dharm is in the process of becoming a new global phenomenon. BJP and RSS will do well to study and understand the new winds that are shaping Hindu thought. They must put on leash elements within their ranks who continue to be saddled with Hindu Mahasabha mindset of 1950.

5.     Be Humble

Hindu texts say that it is better to commit suicide that to praise oneself. Political parties are typically mutual admiration societies where leaders praise each other. It is hence sickening to see Narendra Modi praise himself again and again. Let this job (of eulogizing Modi) be done by others in the party and let him praise his colleagues and friends.

More importantly, all of you need to learn to be less arrogant not just in your words but also in your thoughts. One's actions and facial expressions reflect one's inner thoughts. If one's inner thoughts are egoistic and arrogant, people can read it intuitively and instinctively. And that is worse than hara kiri in politics.

I sincerely hope that you will take the above advices seriously.

With best wishes and regards,

8 November 2015

Please write to me your comments about the above article.

ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer and a lawyer by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a legal and management consultant by profession.

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