Noted Indian author, political analyst Shantanu Gupta launched his new book, titled: BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY: Past, Present and Future: Story of the World’s Largest Political Party
In an exclusive interview with TFI, Shantanu has talked about his journey on how he meticulously chronicled his latest book about the biggest political party in the world. Here are some of the excerpts of the interview.
Q1: What prompted you to write this book?
Shantanu: Two incidents promoted to write me this book.
In March of 2015, I was in BJP’s old office at 11 Ashoka Road, to meet someone. All Party workers, office-bearers and staff, all were staring at the digital screen. It showed the total number of party members enrolled through the party’s new ‘Sadasyata Abhiyan’, or membership drive. The party’s national president, Amit Shah, was in office that day. When he came to check the digital counter, there was child-like eagerness in his eyes. As soon as the counter hit the target, the whole office erupted in euphoria. The jubilant party president Amit Shah, who is known to be a strict taskmaster, was not able to hide his joy. The ambitious membership drive was his idea. The BJP becomes the largest political party in the world. The Communist Party of China was until now considered the largest party with about 8.60 crore members. That very day I decided that the story of this phenomenon had to be narrated to the world. As the Congress ruled the government for decades after Independence and the left ruled the academia, the story of the nationalist movements which lead to today’s BJP, never got narrated in its entirety and purity.
In 2017, while researching for my previous book – biography of Yogi Adityanath, I attended couple of rallies of PM Narendra Modi, to understand the mood of the people attending it. On a hot day I saw a Karyakarta, holding a big flag of BJP and chanting Modi-Modi in a rally. I asked him – What’s your incentive to be here, leaving your work, on a hot day like this? He replied, anything for my country. This incident pushed me and intrigued me again and I wanted to explore all the nationalist movements like BJP and before BJP, which bound us together as a nation today.
Q2: How challenging was the task of documenting history of a party and movement in one single book?
Shantanu: Through the history of BJP, I tried to document the hisoty of nationalist movements in India, which lead of the formation of today’s BJP
So to document the history of hundreds of years of nationalist movement, I had to dig documents, newspapers, speeches, incidents and references, which are hundreds of years old.
The research involved regular visits to Nehru Memorial Library, libraries of other colleges and universities, digging archives, going through letter correspondence between leaders, going through old newspapers, getting hold of books which are not in publication now and reading/listening multiple speeches of the leaders of different times. Then came the phase of meeting different authors, journalists, other historians and leaders to corroborate my research and get their perspective. And then synthesising all this massive content for the readers in a cohesive format.
Q3: There are so many books on this subject nowadays? How is your book different?
Shantanu: As I said above, We cannot understand BJP, without understanding the Bhartiya Jana Sangha (BJS), the political precursor to BJP. We cannot understand BJP, without understanding the, RSS, the ideological compass for BJP. We cannot understand BJP, without understanding Hindu Mahasabha, where Veer Savarkar gave the philosophy of Hindutva. We cannot understand BJP, without understanding the massive re-conversion (ghar wapsi) and cow protection movements run by Arya Samaj movement.
There are a few books which cover, ONLY the political BJP, which was formed in 1980 – its wins and defeats. There a few books, which try to narrate the story of BJP through the biographies of ONLY some known faces of BJP. There a few books, which talk about ONLY Atal government, Some talk about ONLY 2014 & 2019 electoral victories of BJP.
There is no book, which narrates the story of BJP in its entirety. My book is an honest attempt to document the past, present and future of the idea of BJP—the world’s largest political party. Through the story of the world’s largest political party, the BJP, my book explores the history of nationalist movements in India – from the Arya Samaj, to the Hindu Mahasabha, to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) and finally to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Q4: Are you attempting to revisit and rewrite history or just presenting an alternate view?
Shantanu: As the Congress ruled the government for decades after Independence and the left ruled the academia in India, so the history of nationalist movements was never captured in its entirety and purity. Left historians have only glamourized and institutionalized leaders from certain dynasties and only presented one-sided view of polity to the readers. So along with the history of BJP, this book also serves as an alternate view on the political and social history of India in last 200 years.
Q5: Why would a youngster of today pick up your book?
Shantanu: The whole of Bharatvarsha, from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, is and has been, a living organism, through the ages – geographically, culturally and historically. Bharat is an ancient nation and Bharatiya nationalism, therefore, must naturally be based on undivided allegiance to Bharat as a whole and her great and ancient culture, which distinguishes her from other lands. The BJP of today is the latest political manifestation of the years of nationalist movements that India has seen. Through the story of the world’s largest political party, BJP, I tried to bring the story of last 200 years of social & political churning in the country for the young readers.
Every nation learns from its History. India is the oldest surviving civilization, which was at it’s peak in science, medicine, literature, statecraft, mathematics, spirituality before Islamic and European invaders tried to check and harm this civilization. This book will communicate to the young minds, that though our tracking of inflation, petrol prices, GDP and price of Onion, a thousands of years of golden civilization is ta stake.