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Nitish providing legitimacy to Sangh-BJP like Chimanbhai Patel did: But why forget JP?

By Rajiv Shah/ Scanning through a “Quint” article recently, I got somewhat curious. The headline was enough attract me: “Will Nitish Kumar ‘Legitimise’ BJP in Bihar Like Chimanbhai Did?” Authored by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, it said, as Bihar prepares for India’s first elections in the post-Covid-19 era (is it?), it was necessary to examine “a few slices of history”. Thus, it refers to how, between the summer of 1989 and the autumn of 1990, the BJP cozied up to Patel, propped him up as Gujarat chief minister, “and thereafter, pulled the rug from beneath his feet.”
Banking heavily on an interview Mukhopadhyay had with Narendra Modi, the article suggests that Modi played a crucial role in the whole political game being being played out during those crucial days, leading to a situation where his (Modi’s) stock within BJP having “shot up”. While Patel “secured support from the Congress”, what was clear was: BJP and Modi were “the ascendant forces.” A decade later, Modi became Gujarat chief minister.
While the article apprehends a similar scenario may now be repeated in Bihar, I felt it was just one small “slice” of political history of India in which BJP – previously Jana Sangh – and the RSS were legitimised successively in India. Counterview has just published an open letter by Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, NGO People-First, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death, telling him that JP wanted RSS to be disbanded, and “give up the concept of Hindu Rashtra.”
JP may not be wedded to the Sangh ideology, but can anyone say, he didn’t provide legitimacy to Jana Sangh and RSS. I recall how, talking to us informally, late Mohit Sen, former CPI leader, would tell us students in the Delhi University in 1974, when the JP movement was on the ascendancy, “CPM and RSS both are holding left and right hands of JP, and both say they don’t have anything to do with each other. But there is indeed a common link: JP.”
No doubt, Indira Gandhi-imposed emergency pushed both Sangh Parivar (RSS and Jana Sangh, which later turned into BJP) people and JP-ites to further cozy up to each other in jail, pushing them to form Janata Party post-emergency. The Janata Party consisted an odd conglomerate of Left-of-centre to extreme right wingers, something RSS-Sangh Paviar, “untouchables” in politics then, used for its full advantage to gain legitimacy.
Not without reason, while I have personally found most JP-ites have been critical of RSS and Sangh Parivar, yet in deep corner of their heart, there is some soft feeling for RSS even today – at least this is what I learn from the JP-ites of Gujarat, with whom I have interacted during my journalistic career in the state since 1993. Let me recall an incident: Six years ago, one of them came up with book, a “compilation” of civil rights activities in Gujarat between 1974 and 2014.
Scanning through the book, which had a photograph of JP on the front page (Counterview took a story on the article), I found there were some very good words on an RSS ideologue, who edited an RSS mouthpiece – praising him for his “fearless” journalism. There was considerable flutter around the book following this story, at least among the state activists. Many wondered what was the reason justify an RSS man close to Modi following the victory of BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

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