Khare does a Govindacharya

PM’s media adviser borrows concepts from the BJP ideologue

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Ajay Singh | September 21, 2010



K N Govindacharya, a nearly-forgotten ideologue of Hindutva, can justifiably claim credit for having introduced some new words in the Indian political lexicon. He had used the expression “chehra (face), chaal (conduct) and chartitra (character)” to emphasise that the BJP was a status-quoist political party not interested in social transformation. Ironically, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media adviser Harish Khare seems to have borrowed this idea from the BJP ideologue to put across the same view about the Congress.

At a book release function on Monday, Khare, a former journalist, said the Congress was more interested in winning elections than in getting involved in the politics of conviction. Though Khare’s views were feebly disputed by the Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh who was present on the occasion, the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister also admitted that he relied more on bureaucracy than party organisation for distribution of land leases among the landless during his tenure.

Despite Digvijay Singh’s protestations, Khare cannot be faulted on the veracity of his claims. Though he owes his present position to the prime minister, who, in turn, owes his position to the Congress, Khare seems to have retained his journalistic trait of calling a spade a spade. It is a historical fact that the power struggle that gripped the Congress in the post-Nehru phase ensured that the party ceased to be an agent of social change. The abolition of privy purses, nationalisation of banks or the “Garibi Hatao” slogan were used only as symbols by Indira Gandhi to enhance her charm as the lone social transformer. In her image-building process, she destroyed the party’s organisational structure. As a result, Indira Gandhi’s efforts could not go beyond mere symbolism.

There are ample indications that despite Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s espousal of social welfare schemes, the party apparatus seems to be out of tune with the realities. As a result, good intentions run the risk of delivering little for the poor. This is evident in the manner in which the right to food bill or women’s reservation bills is being thwarted. It is clear that the party’s organisation structure is not attuned to any radical reform which might upset the existing social equilibrium. Significantly, Khare’s prognosis about the Congress’ dilemma holds equally true for another national party – the BJP. There seems an unspoken unanimity between both the national parties whose agendas seem to be guided  by their sole concern of winning the elections.

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