I am quite amused by Advani’s statements and more so by his action in resigning as President of the BJP. I have little to add to what the Indian Express has to say, except that, beyond the ideological veneer to the recent RSS-BJP flak lies the fact that the different heads of the Hindutva family represent different and conflicting social basis, with the RSS relying on its traditional lower middle class, urban petite bourgeoise and trading classes with an aging leadership, the VHP a strange admixture of the first world immigrant and the sants, the Bajrang Dal with the motley urban lumpen youth and the tribal frontal organizations that have been much more active in the last two decades than previously. The BJP itself hijacked by the middle class noveau- rich basking in the sunshine of globalization and outsourcing.
I am not sure at this point whether Advani will really resign or do an Uma Bharathi and come back with renewed support of the currently very much divided Hindutava family. Though the media reports are already propping up Rajnath Singh as the alternative leader, I wont be surprised if Advani is back in a week or so.
And in case Rajnath Singh does come in as the next chief, the most interesting aspect would be that the BJP would be lead by a non- Brahmin (I suppose that Rajnath Singh is a Thakur- hence very much from the ‘reliable’ upper caste stratum that the RSS may trust more than a backward caste or a Dalit).
However, I am quite convinced that it is not the ‘intellectual’ in Advani but the political strategist in action. The debate on Jinnah is and will be a non- starter. Nothing that Advani has spoken is factually incorrect or pathbreaking. If the RSS has been kicked out of its reverie and is reacting in a knee- jerk fashion, it is more than likely that its mercurial reaction may well turn into its opposite as soon as it flared up, while it continues to ignore what Advani has spoken of. Mr. Advani may have amnesia as well. It is a matter of time.
After all, the conflicting social bases do need to be clobbered together at least at the leadership level for any hopes of return to power. At this moment in the BJP’s history, this clobbering can be achieved only by a Janus faced leader, it does not matter whether it is a veteran Vajpayee or an ascending Advani or even someone else.