That politics makes strange bedfellows is a cliché. Nevertheless, we would expect our political parties to have the most basic consistency in their ideological positions. For example, we wouldn’t normally expect the Left parties to espouse the capitalists. Similarly, we wouldn’t expect the BJP to reserve seats for Muslims or Christians.
Yet the BJP in Goa is doing just that. It has given 25 percent of the party’s seats to Christian candidates for the next election, according to a report in the Economic Times (7 Feb 2012). Furthermore, the party is going to reserve some seats for the Christians in the state’s government jobs.
The BJP is a party that has nurtured itself on candid communalism. Cultural nationalism has been its staple food. Hatred of the minorities has been its perennial hobby. Its forefathers like G. D. Savarkar had ordered all non-Hindus “either to merge themselves in the National Race and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy so long as the National Race may allow them to do so, and to quit the country at the sweet will of the National Race…” (We, or Our Nationhood defined).
We should, certainly, be happy if such pernicious positions are being rectified. And if history is being rewritten (which is also a hobby of the BJP). Those of us who believe in gods should offer prayers and sacrificial rituals in thanksgiving for the conversion of the wayward. Those who are not religious can at the least celebrate the conversion in a blog. And that’s what I’m doing.
I’m celebrating BJP’s conversion. I hope this conversion is not merely an election ploy. I hope BJP’s love for the minority communities will spread from Goa to other states, particularly the neighbouring Karnataka where, when it came to power, the party displayed more fangs than it could have afforded against the Christians in the state.
If this conversion marks a genuine departure from the party’s political and ideological stand, and if the party indeed intends to practise religious tolerance, I’ll proudly throw my fist into the air and shout jubilantly at the top of my voice: “Jai Hind.”