BENGALURU: The political ideology that creates a political party, once crystallised, articulated, defined and structured for dissemination and for generating a political discussion becomes the ideology of the party. In power, the party attempts to formulate policies broadly influenced by its inspiring and defining ideology. As Amit Shah once told a gathering of writers and intellectuals who had asked him to speak on the relevance of ideology in politics today, ‘when an ideology-based government comes to power, the focus is on the maximum development of the poor and marginalised people and not of an individual or family’.
From the inception of Jana Sangh in 1951 to the founding of BJP in 1980 and beyond the party and movement continues to retain a vibrant space for ideological churning and debates and to evolve, modify, re-direct and focus its political line and positions.
In an era of gradual de-ideologisation when most political parties are unwilling to or are unable to define their ideological positions or programmes, or have degenerated into family run and controlled syndicates in which ideological formulations do not matter in the long run, the BJP persists with its ideological dimension.
Vichardhara flow of thought, ideology—forms one of its principal underlying and sustaining pillars. For a worker-centric party like the BJP, which continues to expand even after more than three decades, ideology is also its life force, the adhesive that binds and the firewall that prevents any major fissures while ensuring that stagnation is kept at bay.
The ideological underpinnings of the political movement of the Jana Sangh and BJP continue to remain active and its ideas remain in circulation. Throughout his countrywide tours undertaken in 2017, Amit Shah always meticulously kept aside a session with intellectuals and opinion makers, where he discussed the ideological dimensions of the party and how it is influencing policies and governance in states in which the BJP rules. The exceptionality of BJP as a party is because, as Shah often points out, ‘its work is guided by our ideology and we have a defined organisational structure’.
The BJP, inheritor of the Jana Sangh’s legacy, owes its birth to the ‘idea of nationalism’. The vision and position of one nation, one culture and one people inspired its founding. The BJP argued for a confident, self-reliant and self-respecting nation as its goal for India.
When it speaks of one nation, one culture and one people, the BJP does not promote homogeneity; it speaks rather of Bharat being an ancient nation, with great diversities but also possessing a distinct underlying unity, a civilisational continuum which needs to be recognised and expressed. This political idea is best explained in the words of Kushabhau Thakre, himself:
This [nationalism] is the core of our ideology; for us India is one nation, one people and one culture. Our view that India is not a nation born in 1947 but an ancient nation defined by its unique and unifying cultural identity is different from that of the Marxists, who see India as several sub-nations. It is also different from the Congress view that India is a territorial nation born in 1947.
Rashtravad (nationalism) remains the BJP’s political ideology and Antyoday (empowering and elevating the last citizen) continues to be its governance ideology and ultimate goal. These have sprung from the political philosophy of Integral Humanism. Excerpted from Amit Shah and the March of BJP by Anirban Ganguly and Shiwanand Dwivedi, with permission from Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt Ltd.