BJP announced on Thursday that party stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee will not be attending the meeting of its national executive beginning in Bhopal on Friday. The former prime minister will skip the meeting as doctors have advised him rest because of his health problems. The Times News Network reports that with Vajpayee’s continued participation in BJP affairs looking uncertain, or patchy at best, the saffron veteran’s exit from active politics has considerable implications for his party. His fading presence will, for the first time, mean that BJP’s ‘big two’ is effectively reduced to just one as leader of opposition LK Advani remains the only veteran on the stage.

Mr. Advani vacated centerstage from the party sometime back in the face of a raging debate on reconciling ideology with Governance.

As Mr. Advani occuppies center stage again Offstumped has this prescription for the BJP as it seeks to occupy the space to the Right of Center. Spelling out his perspective on the Ideology versus Governance debate Mr. Advani had on Oct 13 2002 in New Delhi said this
BJP’s essential ideology is cultural nationalism in which nation first is the key word. But a large area of governance has nothing much to do with ideology and more so in the case of a coalition government

Offstumped would suggest taking this line of thought further to urge the BJP to consider a clear distinction between ideology that influences its views on cultural issues outside of the realm of governance and core principles that should guide it while in a coalition government through an umbrella platform.

Such an umbrella platform must not be based narrow and rigid ideological definitions that lend themselves to either parochial criticisms or to western stereotypes. It could be based on the twin pillars of National Interest and Individual Freedoms.

The sentiments expressed by the founding fathers in the Constituent Assembly around Individual Freedoms, rejecting permanent minority status in favor of equal opportunity, advocating for a strong Executive and leaving it to the people to determine the kind of economic system that best suits their interests could be the guiding beacon for such a Right of Center Umbrella Platform for Governance.

While most of the founding fathers swore by socialism it is clear from their remarks in the Constituent Assembly that it was the kind of socialism that put Individual Freedom and National Interest above any Political Ideology of the day. To quote a few stalwarts

Minoo Masani  – Equality of opportunity certainly assumes that every child in this country, every boy and girl, will get an equal opportunity to develop those faculties which he or she possesses in order contribute to the common good. That is the socialist aspect of the resolution.

And he then goes on to quote Jai Prakash Narayan – my picture of a socialist India is the picture of an economic and political democracy In this democracy, men will neither be slaves to capitalism nor to a party or the State. Man will be free.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishna – It is no good creating conditions of freedom without producing a sense of freedom. We must safeguard the liberty of the human spirit against the encroachments of the State. While State regulation is necessary to improve economic conditions, it should not be done at the expense of the human spirit.

The most telling remarks however came from the architect of the Indian Constitution Dr. B.R. Ambedkar when he rejected amendments demanding that “socialist” be inserted into the preamble. In fact Ambedkar’s remarks are a stark contrast to the kind of politics practiced by those whose swear by his name and have deified him as  a Dalit icon and a demigod of Dalit politics.

What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether….. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves.

Socialism and the culture of entitlement have influenced national politics over the last 60 years with their many perverse manifestations like Reservations and Minority Appeasement attaining not just Institutional sanctity but becoming the dominant lexicon of political debate.  It is important to listen to the sentiments of the intellectual giants from the Minority Communities on this subject.

Minoo Masani – the conception of a nation does not permit the existence of perpetual or permanent minorities …. ultimately no legal safeguard can protect small minorities from the overwhelming domination of big masses, unless on both sides an effort is made to get closer and become one corporate nation, a homogeneous nation

Maulana Hasrat Mohani – I refuse to accept Muslims to be a minority. How is it that when you talk of minorities you mean Muslims only and when you talk of reservation you refer to Muslims only ?:  The Muslims refuse to be called a minority if parties are formed on political lines.

Syed Kazi Karimuddin – the minorities should forego this reservation of seats under joint electorates.  this is going to create permanent statutory minorities in the country It would be to the great disadvantage and detriment of the Muslim community or any other minority community which claims reservations. Reservation of seats will create more bitterness, more jealousies, more communal hatred and Muslim disintegration

If the Bhagwa came to symbolize the ideology for the BJP on cultural issues Offstumped is calling upon the BJP to consider yet another ancient Indian symbol 

the Shveta Chhatra or the White Umbrella – a non theocratic symbol of sovereign political authority over the ages.

The Shveta Chattra should symbolize that Umbrella Platform for a Right of Center Coaition

under which Individual Freedoms will always be sheltered
under which there shall always be room for those who believe in the primacy of National Interest above all else 

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