Ram Puniyani argues that the BJP’s gameplan to be the perfect opposition party has dampened its political stand and portrayed the party as a confused political entity
THIS YEAR was very eventful as far as the political arena is concerned. Anna Hazare’s movement, the government trying to bring in FDI in retail, a Bill for rationalisation of fuel price and the deletion of Ramanujam’s essay in the University text were few of these. In many of the Bills related to FDI and the rest, which were brought up for discussion in parliament, BJP chose to oppose bills that UPA wanted to pass. It is intriguing, why a party (BJP), which stood for the FDI during its days in power, opposed it now? Logically such policies should have gladdened the hearts of BJP as it was an unfulfilled dream of the nda. The shrewdest move on BJP’s part was its fullhearted support to the Anna Hazare movement and tread cautiously in the parliament. It is taking full advantage of Anna’s anti-Congress stance while engaging with the Bill in the parliament. This forkedtongue attitude of BJP is part of its character. BJP works toward building its electorate, either with the RSS or on its behalf. It has to come to power by all means, fair or foul, to pave the way for an RSS agenda of Hindu nation. Its core agenda is totally opposed to the concept of democratic norms prevalent in the country today. Inherently, the BJP had been totally opposed to the state intervention in the economic matters, despite the fact that the public sector was the basic essentiality for India, as private capital was not substantial in quantum at that time to lay the foundation of economic growth. The BJP and its predecessor the Bhartiya Jan Sangh had been sounding clear opposition of state’ role in these matters. Now since UPA is also following many policies, which BJP wanted to implement, irks BJP around and changes its stance. It does smack of opportunism and it seems that what dictates its public stand most of the times are the electoral contingencies of the time. If it supports the government on these issues it would be sound to toe the government line and would lose the electoral advantage in the coming elections. Apart from the turnaround in the economic policies, its shrewd managers have taken a very ambivalent stand on Anna’s draft after a façade of totally upholding Anna as the person, his movement and his idea of the Bill as the desirable one. As such BJP has a long tradition in these matters of opportunism. It exploded the bomb in 1998, and tilted the foreign policy supporting the US. But when in opposition it again turned around and took contrary positions.
IF WE go back, we see the same ‘clever’ stance in the matters of the Mandal commission implementation. It did not have the courage to speak against the Mandal commission, to which it was deeply opposed, as that would have alienated it from a large section of voters. So to skirt around the issue, it went in for the Rath Yatra, bypassed the Mandal issue and tried to give confusing signals to the electorate. As a culmination of the Rath Yatra, Ram Janmabhoomi movement, it went on to undertake the criminal act of the Babri Masjid demolition. The BJP asserted that Babri Masjid is a blot on the Hindu India. Let’s note that while taking the oath, it swears by the Indian constitution, a secular India, while operating on a political chess board; it keeps Hindu India as the reference point. This demolition brought it to the seat of power in the centre. After grabbing power, being in the government it did not build the temple for which it had demolished the masjid and had unleashed the violence that followed. When in opposition it promises to build the temple, when in power it finds excuses and wriggles out of the commitment on which it came to power. So what is the real BJP? Is it for the principles of a particular type or is it a party of Hindu Rashtra, using the democratic space merely to enhance its electoral power? The dilemma of BJP is that it is a political party operating in the electoral arena, in the democratic space, but at the same time to work for abolition of democratic space when in power. So far, it could not come to power without its non-Hindutva allies. So it has used the opportunity of being in power to communalise the education and state apparatus, to give more opportunities for the RSS progeny (VHP, Bajrang Dal, ABVP, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram to infiltrate into the state apparatus). The duplicity of BJP has a deeper agenda. It is not just a party of the right wing. It is a party of ‘religious right wing’. The right wing parties aim at the status quo in the society. The religious right wing parties not only aim to maintain status quo but go further and try to reverse the process of social change which has taken place due to the liberal space. The right wing parties may be principled, however wrong those principles may be, while the religious right wing groups are totally bereft of any qualms about principles as they are out to use the democratic space for the bringing in of the fundamentalist regime over a period of time.
Ram Puniyani is a communal harmony activist based in Mumbai.