AAP puts on saffron makeup

The BJP didn’t come into power by being a party everyone hated. They had and still have a significant supporter base among upper-caste Hindus. And that base isn’t going anywhere. It is a significant vote bank and so far, only the BJP has catered to it.

Indeed, the BJP was able to expand the appeal of this core to such an extent that in 2014 as well as 2019, it had people who were not upper-caste Hindus happily joining it.

Earlier this month, the RSS was heard expressing unhappiness that it was losing support in minority communities (SC/ST and Muslims). After you have finished laughing your ass off about that complaint, think about what the implications of it are. The BJP has a comfortable core base which consists of the puja-path brigade. People who are socially and financially so comfortable that they can afford to have temples as election issues and wax eloquent about “Hindu pride” in a land where people (of all religions) often die of hunger.

This base is something the BJP will always be able to bank on. They are an easily deluded lot. All it takes is some random Vedic rhetoric and they’re sold. Wear some saffron clothes and utter some vaguely Sanskrit-sounding words and you have their votes.

And now, the AAP is trying to rob the BJP of this base. And to add insult to injury, it is doing so in the national capital, after defeating the full might of the RSS machinery. Multiple ministers, members of Parliament, includind the Prime Minister and the Home Minister campaigned and failed to win Delhi. BJP’s Delhi defeat, if nothing else, was a slap in the face for a party for whom “streanh” is everything. After such a defeat, to have the religion card taken away from it has to hurt.

The AAPis going for the BJP’s core base. The base that it takes zero effort to seduce. It is looking to show itself as a viable alternative to the Hindu BJP while simultaneously saying “Inquilab Zindabad” to anyone who might be listening.

The problem here of course is that religion and politics always make a toxic cocktail. If a party has religious identity politics as a backup plan, then somewhere down the line, the party may very well decide to go full bhaktard and start seeking votes on those grounds.

I am hoping however, that becoming a pale shadow of the BJP will mean playing the game according to BJP rules. AAP can’t out-BJP the BJP. If anything is to come of their “nayi rajneeti”, it’s going tohave to be unique mix of policies. Beneath the saffron make-up, there has to be secular substance.