King Dhritarashtra was born blind. He sired 100 sons and one daughter. He had the help of Sanjaya to know what exactly happened at Kurukshetra where his sons and his nephews, the Pandavas, fought the Great War. He knew exactly who killed whom and in what way.
The King, whose love for Duryodhana, was his weakness, saw Bhima as the epitome of evil. Bhima’s life story has been given a new rendering by Malayalam writer MT Vasudevan Nair in his book Randamoozham (The Second Time). He is no longer the evil-incarnate!
No Pandava, including Arjun, killed as many Kauravas and their army as Bhima, who is believed to have the strength of 10,000 elephants. After the war, when the victorious Pandavas called on Dhritarashtra, he embraced them one by one. When it was his turn to embrace Bhima, Krishna found the ex
Krishna used his extraterrestrial power to push a statue of Bhima to where Bhima stood in flesh and blood. The King embraced the statue with such strength that it crumbled into pieces.
Of course, Dhritarashtra realised the folly of what he did, atoned for his lapse, hugged Bhima and blessed him.
The BJP is like Dhritarashtra when it comes to embracing political parties. It was a sensation when the party allowed Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati to become Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh with its support. There were many journalists who said that the combination of the Upper Castes, represented by the BJP, and the Scheduled Castes, represented by the BSP, was invincible.
However, there was no Krishna in the BSP to warn the party against the BJP’s deadly embrace. Where is the BSP now? It won one seat out of 403 seats in the 2022 Assembly elections. Nobody was surprised because she had squandered the identity of the BSP and could not stand up to the machinations of those who have many agencies like the ED under their command.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was another ally of the BJP. It was part of the BJP governments at the Centre, whether it ruled Punjab or not. In fact, the SAD parted ways with the BJP only when it realised that the three controversial farm Bills enacted by the BJP had no support in Punjab. Now, what happened to the party?
In the Punjab Assembly elections held this year, the SAD won three seats in a House of 117, slightly better than the BSP in UP. Now, Parkash Singh Badal and his son and daughter-in-law know how dangerous it is to let the King of all parties embrace a small, family outfit like theirs.
There was a time when the Congress was the dominant political party in Maharashtra. It was the megalomania of Sharad Pawar, who wanted a party at his beck and call, that led to the formation of the Nationalist Congress Party, of course, at the cost of the Congress. The Congress’ principal opponent in Maharashtra was the Shiv Sena.
The Shiv Sena and the BJP are considered the “natural allies” because they both believe in Hindutva. However, the Shiv Sena was the one which called the shots in Maharashtra. No BJP leader ever dared to challenge Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. Alas, Thackeray did not have the celestial powers of Dhritarashtra to know the dangers of the BJP’s hug. Now what happened?
The BJP began to fatten itself at the cost of the Shiv Sena. From the commanding position the SS held, it was brought down to the status of an equal to the BJP. Then, what was to happen, happened. The Sena won only 56 seats while the BJP won 103 seats in 2019. Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray wanted power to be shared on a 50:50 basis. The offer was rejected outright and I need not write about what happened subsequently in Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena is now a caricature of what it once was. A Shiv Sainik, Eknath Shinde, is the Chief Minister but who does not know who holds the remote controller in Maharashtra. To cut the story short, the Shiv Sena has been reduced to the status of Bhima’s statue after Dhritarashtra’s embrace.
The situation in Bihar is not any different. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stays in his post courtesy the BJP. His party’s alliance with the BJP did not pay the party any dividends. This was clear from the results of the 2020 elections to the Bihar Assembly. The alliance benefited the BJP more than the Janata Dal (United).
In the election, the BJP improved its tally from 53 to 74. In the case of the JD(U), the tally came down from 71 to 43. It is because of the BJP’s generosity that Nitish Kumar remains the Chief Minister like Eknath Shinde in Maharashtra. In the next elections, their fate would be no different from that of the BSP and the SAD.
Why is this so? The BJP is like the banyan tree. Having its roots firmly set in the Hindu mythology, it is believed to be a symbol of stability, permanence and security. It was under this tree that Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree has one problem.
No Hindu household is complete without a tulsi plant. However, no person grows a banyan tree anywhere near his house. That is because the tree has the strength to uproot nearby houses. Its roots are so strong that they can penetrate deep into the earth’s core. It can also penetrate the walls and grow on rooftops.
It is also difficult to destroy the tree because it can grow under any adverse circumstances. More importantly, it does not allow any plant to grow under it. The BJP is like the banyan tree that does not allow any other party to grow under it. Of course, it provides welcome shade and tempts other parties but once they fall for the temptation, it would mark their end.
Like the banyan tree, it wants to grow alone. It cannot countenance any other party. Imagine the Democratic Party in the USA coining a slogan — Republican Party-mukt America. Or, the Conservative party in Britain coining a similar slogan — Labour Party-mukt Britain. People will laugh at it because people there know that no democracy can succeed in a single-party system.
The BJP is the only political party in the world which has coined such a slogan. Worse, party leaders are not even ashamed of shouting the “Congress-mukt Bharat” slogan. For one reason or another, the Congress has been losing its appeal. There is very little chance of the party staging a comeback in the next election due in 2024.
That is why when Amit Shah said in Hyderabad recently that the BJP would be in power for the next 40 years, nobody looked askance at it. The only question everyone asked was: Why did Shah choose 40, not 50 or 100? It should have given the party confidence. No, it has not.
In Delhi, some Hindu organisations affiliated to the Sangh Parivar organised a big rally to protest against the killing of a person in Rajasthan’s Udaipur and another in Maharashtra’s Amravati. The speakers spoke about the threat the Hindu community faced. How could there be a threat when the BJP ruled the Centre with a steamroller majority in the Lok Sabha?
The truth of the matter is that the BJP is scared of the Congress, even the remnants of it. Why? Because, as of now, it is the only pan-India party that can challenge the BJP. Rahul Gandhi has not till today compromised on his opposition to the leadership of Modi. The Prime Minister who studied television management in New York knows that people can behave strangely.
Until a few months ago, Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa were the most powerful people in Sri Lanka. Between them, they held all the powers. Assisting them in various senior capacities were at least 13 family members, one of whom was the finance minister. Today, they are the most hated figures in the country.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa wanted to go to the USA. But it refused to grant him a visa like it refused a visa to Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. He was not welcome in Maldives. Not in Singapore either. Finally, he had to go to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Could anyone have imagined that such a fate would befall the man who was known as the Terminator for it was he who “terminated” the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam?
Sri Lanka was a beautiful country with enough resources to support a small population of 22 million. It failed because leaders like Rajapaksa began ill-treating the minorities, spending money beyond their means, imposing one culture on all other cultures and tampering with the agricultural practices of the people.
Be that as it may, in the BJP’s scheme of things, there is no opposition. Has anyone in the party spoken against such Himalayan blunders as the demonetisation and the imposition of countrywide lockdown without giving adequate notice to the people? Instead, they all welcomed the moves as if they were historic.
In the BJP, only one man speaks while all others listen. Is it any wonder that the party expects only compliance from partymen? It introduced the Agniveer scheme without consulting any of the stakeholders. It is like the way it introduced the GST. Even after five years, the “one country, one tax” ideal remains a far cry. But nobody in the party has the guts to tell this.
The BJP has now stepped up its dream. It wants an Opposition-mukt Bharat. It used all the tricks up its sleeves in West Bengal against the Trinamool Congress leader and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She was resourceful enough to defeat the BJP but it has not given up hope. There have been attempts to embrace the party and finish it.
No one knows how long Banerjee will be able to withstand the pressures from the BJP. In Kerala, the BJP has reached the conclusion that it cannot win an election without the support of the Christians. The Ezhavas are the backbone of the Communist Party. And they are the largest community in the state.
The younger generation among them do not know much about the caste-based discrimination the community suffered until the first half of the 20th century. They were not even allowed inside Hindu temples till the Temple Entry Proclamation was made. The BJP does not have much hope of winning the Ezhavas to their side.
In the mid-sixties, the Christians and the Nairs came together to destabilise the government led by R. Shankar, who belonged to the Ezhava community. That is how the Kerala Congress was formed with the support of Christian leaders and Mannath Padmanabhan, who founded the Nair Service Society. The party did reasonably well in the 1965 election, though no party got a majority and the Assembly was dissolved without the elected members even taking the oath of office.
It is this combination that the BJP wants to revive in Kerala. It is towards this end that the party is planning a Mahasangamam of Christians where evangelist Joel Osteen and his glamorous wife Victoria from Houston, Texas, USA, are expected to attend. It will be held in December.
Recently, the party had its jamboree at Hyderabad where Modi hinted at changing the name of the city to Bhagyanagar. It is no secret that the party is not comfortable with any name that has a Muslim connection. In Telangana the party wants to finish the Telangana Rashtra Samiti of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao.
In Tamil Nadu, the BJP was on good terms with the AIADMK. Everybody knows what perilous state the party is in now! DMK’s M.K. Stalin could face the challenge because he had grassroots support. In the Northeast, the BJP has devoured most of the regional parties. BJP is not satisfied with just a Congress-mukt Bharat. Narendra Modi already has a dissent-mukt BJP. Now he wants an Opposition-mukt Bharat.
There are nine such Opposition-mukt countries — China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Eritrea, Western Sahara, Burma, Laos and Bermuda. What a company to be in!