Toilets before temples: Can BJP, RSS catch up with Narendra Modi now?

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This was something expected. After the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi prioritised toilets over temples at a Delhi gathering on Thursday, the Congress took a dig at the BJP, questioning its silence on the remark. Congress leaders said it was the same BJP which raised a big uproar when one of its central ministers, Jairam Ramesh, had also spoken in favour of toilets over temples.

The question has been rightly put. How come the BJP hasn't spoken a word even when the temple issue becomes secondary according to one of its own leader?

Individuals bigger than parties now

The funny side of the Indian politics at this moment is that it is a battle of two national parties dwarfed by a couple of individuals. Just like Rahul Gandhi eclipsed his party on the issue of the controversial ordinance aimed to shield convicted politicians, Modi also stands taller than his party and the saffron camp at this moment and there is little possibility of anybody taking him on whatever he speaks at public rallies.

The toilet-before-temple remark is the 2nd big thing in BJP after Advani's fall

The Sangh Parivar has a big challenge at the moment. The RSS might not like Modi's remark of toilets before temples while the BJP will be in a fix to support the man's development agenda for it had opposed the Congress when Ramesh made a similar comment.

The BJP has been in opposition, not Modi

But this was something expected. One explanation is that the BJP, for the last nine years, has only engaged itself in a compulsive opposition against the Congress, irrespective of the subject matter. The central leadership of the party has not been effective enough to deal with the UPA on various issues, apart from just allowing ruckus in the Parliament. The lack of leadership has, in a sense, crippled the party at the central level.

But for Narendra Modi, the script is different. He is a man, a fresher in Delhi's political circles who has never played the game that his party has been playing for a long time now. Modi replaced Keshubhai Patel as the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001 and has been serving in the same post ever since.

So there is a clear distinction between the jobs of Modi and BJP even though they belong to the same camp. The man had also earned the wrath of the VHP in his own state by demolishing illegal temples but never really cared to mend relations. The three consecutive election victories in his state have bolstered Modi's confidence more.

His story so far gives Modi the confidence to avoid the saffron camp's pet issue like Hindutva and speak more on development and leadership. Modi's emergence as an individual bigger than his party and its affiliates is evident from the silence over his toilet remark.

Toilet before temple for a Hindutva leader, can the RSS digest it?

It is unbelievable that somebody from the political camp that survives on the Hindutva ideology openly bypasses the idea of temple. After Advani's fall, this is perhaps the second big thing that the BJP has witnessed in the recent past.

The BJP won't complain as long as the Modi factor continues to fill up its rally venues till the elections are here. It's real challenge will come if Modi leads it to victory in the polls for then its leadership, which has been waging an ineffective battle since 2004, will meet a tough phase of transition.

But for the RSS and VHP, there are immediate concerns. What if the Modi missile backfires on them?

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