The Bharatiya Janata Party may well be coming back to its “social engineering” agenda taken up in a big way by the former general secretary and ideologue, K.N. Govindacharya, who is no longer with the party.
It has decided to stick to its view that there should be caste enumeration in the ongoing census exercise, despite the strong reservations expressed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. On Friday, a top BJP leader categorically said the party would reiterate its position as had been made clear in the last session of Parliament. If the RSS thinks differently, “you should ask the RSS. I speak for the BJP,” the leader said.
Another piece in the “social engineering” agenda is the attempt to bring Uma Bharti back to the party. She is a backward caste leader with a mass following and appeal, and the BJP thinks she could be extremely useful in helping to revive its fortunes in the Hindi heartland.
“The process [of bringing back Ms. Bharti] is on although it is not yet clinched,” a senior leader said. However, her return may not be that easy given the stiff resistance by the Madhya Pradesh unit led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Also, she has few friends among the central leaders, having annoyed them many a time with her brusque remarks.
However, after the Group of Ministers on caste enumeration decided on Thursday that all parties be asked to give their views in writing, some BJP leaders have been saying the party will make its views known after the government takes a decision. But a top party leader has now said categorically the BJP will stick to its view favouring caste enumeration.
Ironically, there are some in the BJP who hope that the Congress-led government will not take a favourable decision and this would resolve their tangle with the RSS on the issue. In the Congress, there is also the feeling that the RSS opposition would dilute the BJP's support for caste enumeration and thus the backing for a caste count, witnessed in the Lok Sabha in the last session, would be weakened.