How the Congress family defeated Sangh Parivar

Say what you will, but at least Pramod Mahajan had the courage to come out and face the cameras and, with some humility and a smile on his face, try to provide some answers for the BJP’s shock defeat in 2004. It was as close to a televised confessional as a nation could come to have seen.

In contrast, the BJP’s 2009 debacle has been remarkable because it underlines the axiom that failure is a pathetic orphan.

L.K. Advani hasn’t even had the courtesy to thank those who voted for his party. The hair-splitting, finger-wagging talking heads who had a problem for every solution—Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar, Chandan Mitra, Balbir Punj—have all disappeared. Narendra Modi is happy playing his little mind games, threatening to take the “stationary train from Ahmedabad to Delhi”.

In other words, the introspection that a party must make after being subjected to a rout of such a scale and size has been missing. Not because it makes a good sight, but because India needs the BJP. It’s all very well to crow about the Congress victory, but the prospect of a political landscape without a credible, viable, national opposition party is grim if not catastrophic as the 1984 landslide win of Rajiv Gandhi showed.

Thankfully, Sudheendra Kulkarni, the Belgaum-born, Kannada-speaking former left winger who became a key advisor to both Atal Behari Vajpayee and Advani provides a small corrective in this week’s issue of Tehelka. The BJP’s failure to convince the people, he writes, is rooted in a combination of structual, political ideological, organisational and campaign-related issues.

These are some of the salient points Kulkarni makes:

# “The BJP’s geographical presence in the country is much narrower than that of the Congress. It won only one seat out of 143 that were available in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Congress won 60.”

# “A principal reason for the party’s success in forming a government in 1998 and 1999 was its ability to forge alliances. After 2004, many alliance parnters left, not becuase the NDA had been defeated but their perception that the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 was an important cause of the defeat and hence their conclusion that continuation of the alliance would cost them Muslim votes.”

# There is widespread ideological confusionwithin the BJP over what the party’s advocacy of Hindutva actually means. There is a section which believes it lost in 2004 because it “abandoned Hindutva” (Ram Temple, Article 370, Uniform Civil Code) and many angry voices have again said the same.

“It’s a deeply flawed view. It errs in believing that the BJP’s Hindu base is synonymous with the totality of Hindu voters. The fact is, Hindus never vote as a block for any particular party. There is only a small section of Hindus who have voted as Hindus for what they perceived as a pro-Hindu party.”

# “It is high time the BJP seriously debated and decided what it means by Hindutva and also what formulations of Hindutva are not acceptable to it. True the BJP must remain an ideology-driven party. But without clarity on what the BJP’s ideology is, the party cannot win the support of more Hindus, let alone the support of Muslims and Christians.”

# “The mentality of a large section of the party is so dogmatic that any idea of promoting the welfare and development of Indian Musims or of addressing their legitimate concerns is quickly brushed aside as “appeasement”. In five long years after 2004, the BJP did not come up with a single worthwhile initiative which Muslims could welcome. The party gave tickets to only three Muslim candidates. ”

# The party has a near-zero presence in 143 Lok Sabha seats. On top of that, it practically writes off 15% of the electorate who are Muslims. In recent years, even Christians hae turned agaisnt the BJP. Even within the Hindu society, the BJP’s support base is less than 25% nationally.”

# “It is obvious that the BJP failed to utilise its five years in the opposition to construct and present a positive agenda that could catch the imagination fo the people beyond its core support base. We harped too much on the UPA government’s failures, without convincing the people how we would perform better.”

#”Never in the history of the Jana Sangh or the BJP was the party enfeebled by so much disarray at the top. The disorder at the Centre and also in several states demoralised the disunited party works down the line, with disastrous results. Although Advani was projected as the party’s prime ministerial candidte, this took place after he had been disempowered after the Mohammad Ali Jinnah episode. The cropping of Narendra Modi‘s name in the middle did not help at all. To the people of India, the contrast was obvious: there is unified command in the Congress, but not in the BJP.”

# “Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul made an essentially weak Prime Minister like Dr Manmohan Singh look strong by backing him solidly. In contrast, the BJP and the Sangh Parivar made a strong leader like Advani, whose contribution to the growth of the party is enormous, look weak, helpless and not fully in command.”

Read the full article: Hindu divided family

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23 Responses to “How the Congress family defeated Sangh Parivar”

  1. Andy Says:

    You are bang on about that famous post-poll interview of Mahajan..infact, i watched that interview and remember that Pranoy Roy praising Mahajan for his candid comments and called the interview ” a remarkable one..”

    I have been looking for that there a text or video link to it pls ?

  2. rakeshgowda Says:

    Pramod Mahajan was a dynamic personality. BJP sorely missed such high calibre matchmakers. I think BJP is desperately lacking direction.

  3. Naveen Says:

    BJP has two option to win the next elections in 5 yrs time. Either polarize the whole of India a la Varun Gandhi and win elections on the strength of the Hindu votebank or position itself as a non-Hindutva Center-right party a la Swatantra Party that appeals to all Indians.

    As Swapan Das Gupta wrote, today’s Hindu is not afraid of the world but is ready to take on the world on its terms and still conquer it. He wants to look forward to a bright future and not to the past or to a country plagued by strife and turmoil.

  4. gowda Says:

    Next major loss for BJP in india will be karnataka. Yeddi is trying in all possible ways to kidnap sitha from Rama. Hope BJP and RSS top guns reliaze this.

    Is there any development in KA? NO

    Atleast any development programmes for Hindus? NO

    Then on wat basis BJP will come rule karnataka even after 4 years? There is no ideology, no development nothing.

    So after 4 years, KA will go to polls, then if BJP loses in KA, then that again reflects on the upcoming LS elections. SO BJP loses another 50-75% votes in KA.

    I hope RSS will think in a positive manner atleast in future. Hope Reddy’s wont dominate BJP

  5. chetan Krishnaswamy Says:

    Insightful analysis but too long :-)…Like Kulkarni says – until the BJP formulates a more ‘inclusive agenda’, until it becomes more aligned organizationally and until it firms up on its ideological thrust, it will not find favour. Leadership will be another issue that it will have to grapple with…Karamyogi Advani is certainly not growing younger by the day….

  6. harkol Says:

    Sudheendra has written a very hard hitting and almost bang-on the point article. He brings out many shortfalls within BJP very well.

    Now, the entire BJP & RSS will be falling all over themselves to Kick Mr. Kulkarni. Just like they kicked Advani when he made statements, that were remotely concilliatory.

    BJP seems to have forgotten its disciplined roots and being true to itself. They are living in some dreamworld, and won’t listen to any well meaning criticism anymore. :-(

    Hope a leader of the stature of Vajpayee emerges out of this. I can see a couple of them – Arun Jaitley is certainly one. But, then he keeps himself to delhi and doesn’t do much of campaigning.

    Hope there are some hidden gems, who will raise up.

  7. larissa Says:

    Congress won because
    1) the educated Indian populace mostly does not vote
    2) it builds nothing but empties the governments coffers of the boom times for all kinds of schemes to help farmers and other such schemes which go to crooks and middlemen instead
    2) because of the above, i.e. spending government money in the name of the poor (which never reaches them) and by building nothing or doing nothing Congress gives the impression it is pro-poor when it is not
    3) Congress will continue its policies and India will get ever poorer and overpopulated and Congress will pat themselves on the back that they maintain some strange sort of “democracy” in India
    4) Any progress in India is from the people despite the government!
    5) Indian elections merely show that you can win by spending government money on schemes which benefit crooks and middlement and not those who it is intended to benefit.

  8. Rajesh R Says:

    A good article by Sudheendra…. a true introspection, first BJP needs to unite themselves…. they’ve to start with Karnataka… have to address the dissidents… come out with a strong solution… if not they’ll loose Karnataka miserably… they’ve to kick out Reddy brothers even if it costs much…. Yeddi is doing good to certain extent…

  9. rakeshgowda Says:

    Larissa Darling

    You are struck at the same spot like a broken tape. BJP HAS LOST.
    Whether people voted or not is debatable. But the mandate has put Cong in the top job. So stop lamenting and think constructively.

  10. yadhu Says:

    Like all the leaders of BJP Mr. Kulkarni is also blinded by ideology and every other thing. They still didn’t learn lessons and they will never learn either. The people blinded by ideology has only one narrow vision, every step is guided by the same thing, even while analysing the defeat Mr. Kulakarni didn’t give credit to the congress for raising relevant issues. He fails to see the negative mud slinging, personlaized campaign were a bane to the BJP. It can only come to power next time only if it projects itself as an credible alternative to Congress, rather than some right wing hindu nationalist party.

  11. Coffee addict Says:

    Nice fellow Kulkarni is now homeless. Truth is bitter. His boss L K Advani has disassociated himself from Tehelka article.

    Kulkarni is now planning his exit from party’s strategy cell.

  12. Panchajanya Says:

    I guess you have taken the policy, Telling a lie 100 times makes it truth. Here are some facts which you may want to ponder on

    – The Prime Minister, Defence Minister, HRD Minister and Home Minister for four and a half years (Shivraj Patil) did not contest. In fact, 21 ministers in the previous UPA government did not contest the Lok Sabha elections

    -Mani Shankar Aiyar, Santosh Mohan Deb, Anbumani Ramadoss, Shankar Singh Vaghela and Renuka Chaudhary (all cabinet ministers) lost. Total of 16 ministers lost the polls

    – The present Home Minister (P Chidambaram) won only after a recount.

    – We are being told day in day out that this election is death of Hindutva, the Doyens of Indian brand of secularism also lost miserable, Left Parties were reduced to 43. Others like Lalu Prasad came down from 23 to 4 and Mulayam Singh Yadav from 38 to 22 seats.


    Sudheendra Kulkarni, A person which BJP can do without…..

  13. karihaida Says:

    Churumuri getting ready for Operation asta.. Make hay while the sun shines right? Enjoy :)

  14. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    What you wanted to see all of them you have referred, to give interviews on TV!?

    Are you sane? WTF likes to watch politicians cry or gloat on their TVs!?

    Mani Shankar Aiyar was shown leading a cosy retired life in DELHI! And that gentleman says he expected at least Chidambaram like thread bare win! These idiots treat their constituencies like dirt, hope we get saner parties like Lok Satta and effective independents defeating all these stupid politicians(Advani, Sonia Gandhi included) like George Fernandes did in his maiden election(Georgie of yore not now).

  15. larissa Says:

    You are struck at the same spot like a broken tape. BJP HAS LOST.

    So. I do not think BJP is a god-send. I am just stating how the last election was won in India One does not need to do sophisticated analysis of the kind presented here. People who are reading blogs like this do not constitute the masses of voters. Simple. Most of those voting can’t even read and the system manipulates them. Simple.

  16. Manish Says:

    I want this “Why BJP Lost” topics to die. Enough of trolling over it.

    We have more topics of national importance. Forget parties and show up those topics like some person achievement which can inspire others rather than “Why Congress won”, “Why BJP lost”. Everyone is getting sick of all these.

  17. Simple Says:


    If the govt. schemes did not beneift the masses, why did they vote for Congress?

    Govt. schemes worked in Bihar, so they voted for BJP-JDU

    Cheap rice worked in Chattisgarh. so they voted for BJP

    What’s good for the…….

  18. larissa Says:

    We have more topics of national importance. Forget parties and show up those topics like some person achievement which can inspire others rather than “Why Congress won”, “Why BJP lost”. Everyone is getting sick of all these.

    Yes. Indian media–hold yourself to higher standards instead of the housewife gossip type of articles–more and more intelligent people will stop believeing in the media—Write on the REAL issues….

  19. Rajesh Mehta Says:

    There are so many different and irrelvant views emerging from people who are sailing away of what media is spreading all over.
    There should be clear approach on why BJP lost on elections ? Number one I think is controversy surrounding BJP. It looks like a broken ship and people are egositic in how to save it ? One guy is writing his views in how the ship is broken , one guy is writing who broken the ship , one guy is writing broken ship is not sailing ..which is feeding already procongress media to spread myth and propagation of infighting within BJP.
    All BJP leaders , please use common sense otherwise all you will lose next elections whether its jaswant singh ji or murli sir or swaraj ji ..
    Avoid any controversy ..This controversies have lost you election .Congress don’t need to do any hard work as BJP already losing games by itself. Is this the way you will make India strong and united ? This is in history ..Hindus fight within themselves and are never united and hence lost war to outsiders . and same here for BJP ..where is the unity ?

  20. Simple Says:


    The real issues are the issues of the masses.

    They want cheap rice, cheap power, cheap public transportaion, cheap education, cheap healthcare

    Because their income is cheap, they want everything cheap.

    And any govt, which listens to the masses and delievers what they want, will be voted in, time and time again.

    Like Shivraj Singh in MP

    Like Raman Singh in Chattishgarsh

    Like Nitish KUmar-BJP combine in Bihar.

  21. larissa Says:

    If the govt. schemes did not beneift the masses, why did they vote for Congress?

    So affirmative action, perpetual handouts have helped the masses? They vote for Congress because a large portion of the voting masses are illiterate–and hence vote for the party that manipulates their votes…

  22. Anonymous Guy Says:

    A literate voting mass would definitely not vote for hardcore RSS types either for whom real issues are beating up women and inflicting violence on minorities.

  23. larissa Says:

    A literate voting mass would definitely not vote for hardcore RSS types either for whom real issues are beating up women and inflicting violence on minorities.

    How do you make such unqualified statements about the RSS. Have you spoken to them all? My father knew an RSS worker who taught him yoga and he was amazed at the dedication of some of them. Minorities have thugs too. Just go to Kashmir and try to live there as a Hindu and you will find out…Your ad hominem statements prove nothing and are the resort of those who have no credible arguments.


    Anonymous guy I have noticed that every discussion for you always leads to minorities being oppressed and anti-RSS statements. Perhaps you are one of the Arundhati types who seem to have an axe to grind and are selectively biased as to who is oppressed, i.e. they speak out only against what is fashionable to speak out against so they can make a little career for themselves as activists. I see such types all the time, after all NGO’s have become a profitable business…If you are speaking about oppression don’t be so selective, non minorities are also poor, hungry and oppressed in India. Thank You.

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