BJP backs Vajpayee, turns to the right
BOMBAY: India’s Hindu nationalists rallied behind their defeated former prime minister on Thursday, but have made a fresh commitment to their core Hindu ideology as they try to recover from a crushing election defeat.
A three-day meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national executive, the first major post mortem of last month’s surprise loss, was marked by bickering over whether it should return to its roots after its bid to capture the political centre failed.
Hardliners attacked former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for suggesting the party’s refusal to sack Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, rapped by the Supreme Court over religious bloodshed that killed up to 2,000 people in 2002, contributed to the defeat.
“I have had enough,” Vajpayee said in a rare emotional outburst late on Wednesday as he complained about the attacks.
Denying reports the remark meant Vajpayee, still seen as the most widely acceptable public face of the party, would quit, party leaders moved to show their support.
“Don’t have any doubt that he is the tallest leader of our party,” BJP president Venkaiah Naidu, who also stood by Modi, told a news conference.
But over the three days, party officials also signalled its shift back to the Hindu right.
“For me, Indian-ness and Hindutva mean the same thing,” said party spokesman and former minister Arun Jaitley.
Hindutva is the philosophy of the BJP and a “family” of other Hindu organisations, stressing primacy or prominence to Hindu religion, history, morals, culture and philosophy in political, social and public life. reuters