The problem with an open house is that you never know who is coming to dinner. In fact, some of them might even eat beef. But, as good hosts, true to the ancient Indian principle of atithi devo bhava and the more recent “sabka saath”, the BJP has embraced with open arms those who it otherwise exhorts Bharat to be “mukt” of.
The boon and bane of 303 Lok Sabha seats is that everyone wants to come along for the ride. The moot question for the Sangh Parivar, though, is this: How many Congressmen does it take to make the BJP more like the Congress?
Take Goa, a state where politics has seen frequent defections and re-alignments. Currently, the only BJP MLA who has never been part of another party is Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. With the recent defection of 10 Congress MLAs, there is hardly any saffron left in the saffron party.
The BJP and Sangh’s unlimited openness to people of all political hues probably has swayamsewaks and committed party workers furrowing their brow and asking themselves, “apna time kab aayega?” After all, they have been waiting in the wings for “sattar saal”.
There are, of course, many points in favour of the divide-and-absorb strategy for political growth. For one, messy and uncertain verdicts delivered in elections can be circumvented with a little deal-making. Then there’s the cynical argument of “realpolitik” — what does it matter who is at the dinner table if everyone gets a slice of the pie?
After all, the Congress managed to rule India for decades as an “umbrella party”. And if Mahatma Gandhi could turn the Congress from an elite concern to a mass party with four-anna membership, why can’t people join the New India project with an SMS? The only problem is, it might mean the abandoning of “Congress mukt Bharat” for a “Congress yukt BJP”.