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Sangh Veteran Calls For Dialogue

As gloom brought by the battle for Bihar gives way to bickering in BJP, KN Govindacharya exhorts Parivar peers to put their heads together to sort out issues. Excerpts from an exclusive talk

Amresh Srivastava
Publish Date: Nov 28 2015 5:27PM | Updated Date: Feb 1 2016 8:04PM

Sangh Veteran Calls For DialoguePhoto by Hrishikesh Bhatt


Q: What message should BJP in particular and the Parivar in general derive from November 8th result of Bihar elections?



A : The result definitely has a very strong message. But for a cadre based political party as also a part of the Sangh Parivar, the message is in success don’t lose your head and in defeat don’t lose your heart. Success and defeat, they alternate, that should not affect the direction in which we have to go. Second message is don’t go for victory at all costs, keeping one’s feet to the ground to keep yourself intact ideologically and aspire for victory but victory at all costs will definitely erode the credibility and commitment.


Q: Different generations in the Parivar have taken different rather diverse views of Bihar verdict. Whose view is closer to reality --whether that of the older generation or the younger team that holds power at the centre?


A: But both are concerned by the defeat and I think there is a message in elders’ statement. It is -- A: Don’t push us beyond the limit, B: For us self-respect also counts, C: Only dialogue and trust deficit is to be rectified, D: Participation of everybody that every worker is important should be adhered to.


Q: What led to the loss of BJP in Bihar more particularly when it was supposed to win?    


A: Initially things were set as if NDA was winning but as the campaign grew, slowly the things started tilting in favour of the Mahagathabandhan. I am shocked and surprised definitely, I had thought that in the second and the fourth phase perhaps, the BJP will be leading, but things turned to the contrary. In all the five phases of the polls the NDA lost.


Q: What are the reasons for that?


A: I can’t say positively the plausible reasons in particular. I think Mahagathbandhan played their cards better. And they could shift the battle to their grounds that is social alliances.


Q: What about the statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat regarding job quota? Critics say that it cost too much the BJP in Bihar?


A: I don’t agree with it. Actually, Mohan Rao Bhagwat‘s statement cannot be connected to the electoral politics of Bihar because the Sarsanghchalak of RSS speaks about long term things, say about 25 or 50 years, and not from election to election. When the elections were in Bihar, it was the responsibility of the BJP and NDA to counter the encashment of the statement by the Mahagathbandhan people. NDA failed to counter that. So the fault lies, mistake lies there.


Q: You have been instrumental for social engineering in the BJP and you understand the impact of caste divide in Bihar. Was it right for the RSS chief to speak about it when electioneering was on?


A: You cannot expect RSS chief to go by the dictates of the electoral politics because in no way they are emotionally connected with electoral politics. They have worked irrespective of adversities or favourable situations. They have faced bans also and they always feel that their work is to be conducted beyond the limitations of the party and politics.


Q : For a very long period you were in charge of Bihar and you were instrumental in raising the structure of the RSS and BJP there. Do you think that the statement of RSS chief could not be balanced by the BJP?


A: I can’t assess because throughout the elections I never visited Bihar. I don’t have any ground level feedback from there and just by news report, I cannot come to any conclusion from these..


People often say that the BJP ran a personalised campaign in Bihar. On most posters, only Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were there and this was not liked by an average Bihari who appeared more convinced about outsider tag on the two.


Somehow, I don’t know. I have a feeling that entire campaign did not gel with the psychology of the people of Bihar and there was a virtual disconnect. The message was not put across into the hearts of the people of Bihar. It may be the way of presentation, it may be the priority, it may be some tactics, I don’t know.


Q: BJP detractors blame it for pitting against of the idea of India. Aren’t both the BJP and those who opposed to it together stalling germination of the new ideas -- the ideas to end poverty, strife and discord? May you please comment about this?


A: I think there are no contradictions in perusing the material prosperity, keeping in tune with the ethos of the country, pride of the nation, symbols of national identity. All these also can definitely be integrated and weaved into. Every nation has got its own part of progress which is unique to it. What NDA wants or BJP wants, I feel, is that aspects of cultural identity should also be firmly adhering to and the prosperity of the last person in the queue of the land or development should be attended to.


Q: What is the way out when politics is getting trapped in communal and caste quagmires? Sangh is often blamed for dividing society despite its assertions to unite it .Why is it so?  


A: I felt a bit sad that in last four or five phased election, I don’t know where I saw a photo/picture of a cow for election campaign. I think it is not fair. Devaluation of cow, just used for the politics, it cannot be appreciated because the  cow has its own significance, it’s a matter of faith but also a matter  intriguingly  related with the welfare and progress  of  the  agriculture, marginal peasants  and small farmers. It has got its own scientific utility because of geo-medical circumstances in which Bharatiya cows have been reared. So just using it in politics is not fair, that does not show respects for cow .This is nothing but opportunism.


Q: For this they had to pay dearly?


A: I cannot say that how much it counted electorally because in the fifth phase they were already feeling that they will not be getting many seats.


Q: Of late Sangh has placed its bet on Narendra Modi despite the fact that so many other leaders find themselves to be in the cold. Does this signify opting to build a cult instead of allowing a credible and mature leadership to grow? 


A: I cannot say as it is yet to be seen. It is too early to comment upon this. The five-year mandate and how it fared would take time. Everyone has his own style of functioning so does Narendra Modi. I cannot find fault but I always feel that a party like BJP, the party of workers gets strengthened only by trust and dialogue. Involvement of maximum workers is important.


Q: Dissent is loathed both within the BJP and also beyond the party vis-a-vis matters of public interests. The result is India is thought to be becoming intolerant. The Prime Minister had also to address this issue during his London visit. Why can’t dissent get a place?  Won’t this lead to better reason and pave way for imaginative approach to solve country’s problem?


A: There are two aspects. One is what is called intolerance and the other adherence to the fundamental values and existence of nation as an identity. Therefore, one thing is intolerance in which Rousseau and Voltaire used to say that I do not agree with you but I will fight alongwith you so that the right to differ should be respected. So that way tolerance matters. That is why I said that just painting ink on somebody’s face is not tolerant and democratic answer to the problem you may be facing. So the controversy over a book you disagree with for example DN Jha has written a book proclaiming that some Brahmins ate beef and this or that. So some people should come out with other alternative logic and instances and the quotes from various scriptures like he has quoted and that can be done. But the way to challenge this is not to burn the book of the DN Jha, but write one more book. If you have any argument, counter it.  Book can be answered only by book; similarly thoughts can be answered by thought processes. But there is another thing, for example Siddaramaiya, the Karanataka CM, what is the need of just  shouting from the top  that  I will eat beef  let me see who stops me? Now this is just like a challenge posed by Mulayam Singh Yadavji  in 1990 “Koi Parinda Par nahi Maar sakta”(Not even a bird can fly over while vowing to protect Babri Masjid). Why should you provoke others? I know Siddaramaiya, he does not take beef, he will never eat beef. But settling political scores, scoring political points at the cost of other’s sensibility is not fair. In all these the politics may win but the society looses. Post and power all may come and go. But the society is a continuous.


Q: BJP rode to power at the centre vowing to end policy paralysis but it got trapped in controversies of sectarian and communal nature. How can the party overcome this?


A: I think adversarial politics is also contributory to this kind of tension in the society. They may not be totally honest difference of opinion but only one upmanship may be also a reason for creation of atmosphere of intolerance. But I always feel that people in power have more responsibility to tackle all this and for all this, politics of consensus is the approach of democratic politics which should be preferred. My way or no way of either the opposition or the ruling party , that’s not good for the health of the democracy. This does not work in Bharat.


Q: We are talking on the day which is also 125th birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister. So Why not a few words about the late Jawaharlal Nehru because Nehruvian era is nowadays being blamed for the country’s economic woes and slow growth rate since independence that continued until the early 1990s?


A: I feel that Bharatiya tradition is to remember the good contributions, positive contribution of an individual after his death. After  one is away from this whole  mundane world , it will  be better to learn something  positive from him because it was for no quality of his  that he will rise to the post of  Prime Minister. He was so near and dear to Mahatma Gandhi and I feel that the structural strengthening of the democracy, that is the contribution of Pandit Nehru. Emphasising the infrastructure also goes to his credit. Yes, he was influenced by the Russian model of infrastructure which could not have that much. But his intensions were good. He failed in understanding the realities and cruelties of freedom politics because he was not temperamentally used to that. He was a person, some people may accuse him too utopian, but he was an idealist. He wanted the world in certain way. He wanted to Bharat grow in certain manner. So his intentions should not be doubted. I feel that Pandit Nehru’s period before the Chinese invasion and Nehru after that is a totally different. His economic policies were totally repudiated by his own maternal grandson Sri Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv made an open economy in 1983 when he was the general secretary. 


Q: The questions raised by the BJP veterans after the Bihar debacle, which is termed as crisis by the opposition, even your name also cropped up in to that. How do you react to that?


A: Somehow, I was present at the wrong place at the wrong time. I did not have any idea that any kind of statement was being issued. Just after I left the residence of Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, where I went to pay my respects on the eve of Diwali, the statement was released... Soon Arun Shourie also left the house of Dr Joshi. So naturally the journalists present there added up 2+2 to make 4 but the fact of the matter was different. On that day only I had returned from Dhanbad. I did not know what has been happening here. I just went to Dr. Joshi to wish him. The timing was so coincidental that I reached there at 7.45, left at 8.10 the statement was issues. At 8.30 pm Arun Shourie also left after my departure. It is mere a coincident, nothing beyond that. 


Q: But don’t you think that the ‘MargdarshakMandal’ has raised the very valid question after BJP lost Bihar?


A: About the contents I will not comment because I am not privy to the internal functioning of the party. But one thing is certain that the elders must have been compelled psychologically. It was just out of pain. I think, it is the situation of the party that they expressed in the form of this letter. Even now they must be in a mood to talk to settle the matter in favour of the progress of the party because in their minds also the party’s interest is supreme. It’s a situational compulsion which has come in the form this statement. It underlines the fact: there is dialogue and trust deficit in the party. The statement is itself an indication and evidence of it. About the content, yes they should sit together. 


Q: These veterans of BJP are supported by the few MPs also from the party.


A: Definitely it must be, I don’t know the exact number but eight or nine MPs are from Bihar raised their concern. So I feel only sitting together in an amicable atmosphere is best. The role of general secretary organisation is much more than even  of the party president and Prime Minister. This is very cultural political party. So the organisational secretaries, five or six are there. They should take the initiative, if necessary, the Sanghadhikari (In charge) who looks after BJP. He also should take initiative making all people sit together, first in sub groups and then collectively and sort this problem out for the health of the party.  People of this country have bestowed much confidence and mandate and they have endorsed NDA particularly BJP in power with large expectations. So they should prove themselves true, worth as per the expectations, of the people.  And that has to be done, I think, trust and dialogue is key to the success.