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HVK Archives: "I don't deny that factionalism eists": Advani

"I don't deny that factionalism eists": Advani - Sunday (Cover Story)

Posted By Ashok V Chowgule (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
3-9 November 1996

Title : "I don't deny that factionalism exists": Advani
Author :
Publication : Sunday (Cover Story)
Date : November 3-9, 1996

L. K. Advani s finger still bears the mark of indelible
ink. He explained he had voted in the Gandhinagar by
election earlier this month. Though the BJP won that
election, -Gandhinagar is an important witness to the
crisis the BJP faces today: it was the city which hosted
the BJP meeting where L. K. Advani was anointed president
in 1992; Gandhinagar was the constituency Advani contest-
ed to enter the Lok Sabha; and it is the city to which
the BJP's current villain, Shankarsinh Vaghela, belongs.

When Advani was named as a recipient of Hawala money in
the Jain diaries, he quit the Gandhinagar seal causing a
by-election. Between then and now, the fortunes of the
BJP have plunged to an unprecedented low. In this inter-
view to SUNDAY, Advani explains what happened to the BJP
in Gujarat and more recently in Uttar Pradesh, and where
the party is going now.

SUNDAY: Was the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election a failure-
for the BJP?

L.K. Advani: It is not fair to project it as a failure.
In an election, all parties aim high. Even those without
a ghost of a chance of winning talk about getting a
majority. Look at the Prime Minister's personal effort
for instance - I do not recall any Prime Minister having
addressed 45 meetings for a state Assembly campaign. His
party gets seven seats and yet he describes it as a
verdict against the BJP.

I do not deny that we had hoped to get a majority. In
fact, after the campaign was over, my own assessment was
200-230 seats. But in a large state like UP, a number
of . factors affect the fortunes of political parties. It
is not surprising that our calculations went wrong.
Personally, I am unhappy with the results.

Q: Where did the BJP go wrong in UP?

A: There are a number of regional rather than an over-
arching single factor responsible for this. For in-
stance, the BJP's performance in Uttaranchal is spectacu-
lar. We won 17 of the 19 seats bettering our 1991 per-
formance of 15 seats. There was no Tiwari Congress at
that time. In the Lok Sabha elections this year, the
Congress(T) hurt us badly by winning two of our four
seats. Six months later, they had to be satisfied with
just one seat.

I have already set up a committee to enquire into the
reasons why the BJP failed to get a clear majority.

The BJP seeks to secure support on the basis of political
issues. In any election, if the developments preceding
the election do not throw up any sharply-etched political
issue, factors like caste. community, region, candidate,
etc., become more determinant than the party's political

To some extent, this could be a reason. The only politi-
cal issue we were able to highlight was that the 18-month

Kalyan Singh government gave to the state stability and
law and order. And in contrast, under the Janata Dal,
Mulayam Singh or the SP-BSP rule, mafia gangs ruled the
roost. Mass copying in examinations became the rule.

It is this factor that made us retain our position as the
single-largest party in the state.

Q: Did the party deliberately underplay the Ayodhya

A: Our approach to . the issue is already mentioned in
our manifesto. Every single speech I made had a reference
to it.

Q: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) thinks that the BJP
used,the Ayodhya issue when it needed it and has now put
it aside.

A: I have always maintained that Bharatiyata or Hindutva
is nationalism, it is our way of thinking and it reflects
itself in all our decisions and campaigns. If there is a
development immediately preceding an election which
impinges on that, it becomes heightened. If there is
none, it is not there.

Q: Why has caste played such an important role in the UP

A: In recent times there have been only three Lok Sabha
elections where the caste factor has had minimal effect-
1977, 1984 and 1991.

In 1977 and 1991, the mood was against the Congress - the
first time it was an anti-Emergency movement, and the
second time a pro-Ayodhya mood.

In 1984, opinion was in favour of the Congress.

So it is the absence of a strong issue that makes caste
so important.

Had all the scams - involving Sukh Ram, the JMM case or
Satish Sharma - been uncovered in the first part of
1996, the Lok Sabha elections would have been fought on
corruption alone.

Q: How important is the caste factor to the BJP in decid-
ing its candidate.

A: I do not see anything wrong in sections of the popula-
tion becoming conscious of their identity, whether it is
religious, linguistic or a caste. What is wrong is
parties trying to whip up casteism, communalism or regio-
nalism in the narrow sense.of the word.

In my party, when such questions of social engineering
arise, I say: respect casteist, linguistic and religious
identity and try to see that all sections get representa-
tion. But never make these identities the principal
criterion for deciding candidates.

If that happens, at least a party like the BJP is at a
disadvantage. Temperamentally, we are not prone to
accentuating casteism. People do not know my caste even
today. I did not know for a long time that Kalyan Singh

was from the backward caste or that Bangaru Laxman was
from the Scheduled Caste.

If we began to take decisions along casteist lines, we
would be fighting elections on other parties' turf. And
there they have an advantage. They are conscious all the
while of caste and see nothing wrong in mobilising the
Yadavs or the Muslims.

Q: How long do you think the President's Rule in UP is
going to continue?

A: My own feeling is that they (the government) would
like to avoid a vote in Parliament on the President's
proclamation. They fear losing. The Congress has neith-
er said they are going to vote in favour of the proclama-
tion or against it. So the attempt is to see that a
government is installed before 18 November so that there
is no need for a vote.

Hectic efforts have been made to see the installation of
a non-BJP government. They have not succeeded till date.
I have told our friends in UP that even though the Gover-
nor denied them an opportunity, as a last resort he may
call us so we should be prepared.

Q: If invited, what will the BJP do?

A: We will accept and form the government on our own. We
will mobilise support from here and there (smiles). Some
parties are ready for a split right now.

Q: What happened to the party in Gujarat?

A: Events of the last two months have justified the BJP's
reluctance to hand over the reigns of leadership of the
Gujarat government to Shankarsinh Vaghela. It was the
party's assessment that he is so impelled by a power lust
to become chief minister that he would have had no qualms
in betraying the party and joining hands with its ene-
mies. This is precisely what has happened.

Q: Do you regret bringing Vaghela back to the party after
the Khajuraho incident of 1995?

A: Vaghela was expelled, the party subsequently thought
over the matter and came to the conclusion that Lok Sabha
elections were round the corner. If the Gujarat govern-
ment fell, the Congress party would make it the issue for
the elections. They would say that the only party that
could give stability was the Congress. It was a una-
nimous view that we should compromise for the moment.
The result was that Gujarat was not an issue.

After the elections we met again an said, hereafter let
us be prepared to lose the Gujarat government. But any
overt or dissident act on the part of Shankarsinh should
be firmly dealt with.

Q: The BJP had always compared Vaghela to Balraj Madhok.
But Vaghela is the chief minister today...

A: During Madhok's time, it was a small party, today the
party is large. Today there are such people who are
vulnerable to this weakness for power.

Q: What do you have to say about the way Vaghela was
defeated in the Lok Sabha elections by the VHP?

A: It was a decision taken by certain people in the VHP,
not the BJP or RSS, because people were angry with him.
Look what has happened in the Gandhinagar by election.
And Gandhinagar is supposed to be his constituency. He
is supposed to have gifted it to Advani, etc.

Q: How long do you think the Vaghela government is going
to last?

A: The anti-Hindutva space which was occupied by the
Congress is now shared by Shankarsinh's party as well.
In UP for instance, the Congress felt that the Hindutva
movement could only be combated by backing Mulayam. The
consequence was that in UP the party committed hara-kiri.

I will not be surprised if Shankarsinh's party too meets
the same fate. Gandhinagar has fully indicated our
analysis. Besides, the Gujarat government is now at the
mercy of the Congress.

Q: The party claimed to have the support of 93 MLAs.
What happened?

A: It is a failure at the management of MLAs and the
level of the Assembly party.

The MLAs were with us. They signed an affidavit to that
effect in court. But the fact that 46 went along with
Shankarsinh to Khajuraho last year, that itself was
evidence of weakness.

Q: What about the factionalism in the Delhi unit of the

A: I don't deny that factionalism exists here. We will
deal with it soon. I am thinking of dealing with organi-
sational problems in a big way.

Q: Why have so many organisational problems cropped up

A: The BJP is supposed to be a cadre-based party. The
fact is that it is a mass party where anyone can become a
member. He does not have to go through a trial and test
before becoming a card-holding member. It is also true
that most of the party leaders have had an RSS back-
ground. It is this that gives the party an image of a
cadre-based party. The reality is that it is a mass
party though the nucleus might, at one time, have be-
longed to the cadres of the RSS. We are worried about

Q: What about the by-election results in Madhya Pradesh?
Why did the party fare badly?

A: It is unfortunate. We have to look into it. It is
not factionalism that has led to this development, there
are several other factors.

Q: What other factors?

A: I don't want to talk about them.

Q: What about the differences with the Shiv Sena in

A: We do have differences in the styles of functioning.
But by and large, despite different styles of working,
the government has done well.

Q: There is virtually no evidence against you in the
Hawala case, yet why are you demoralised?

A: I am not. The Hawala accusation has been my biggest
challenge and I will fight it to the end.

In fact, I do not recall a single election in the past
where I have contributed so much as this time, after I
resigned. First the Suraj Rath Yatra and then the elec-
tion tours. The response too was very good apart from
the Rath Yatra.

Q: Your term as the party president will end next year.
Are you going to resign before that claiming responsibil-
ity for UP and Gujarat?

A: Yes, I will finish my term next November. But no, I
have no intention of resigning before that. For Gujarat,
yes I am responsible. As party president who else can be
responsible?' In UP, we are the single-largest party.
Isn't that an achievement? It may not be as good as we
expected, but isn't it an achievement - and without any

Q: What about the next party president? There is some
talk of bringing Kalyan Singh to Delhi.

A: If there is any party which has a second line of
leadership it is the BJP. It is not a one-man show. I
can't say who will take over, it has to be decided by my

About Kalyan Singh, I have heard no such thing.

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