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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

India would shine brighter without the BJP

With the 13th Lok Sabha having been dissolved in an apparent bid on the powers-that-be, to cash in on the much-hyped 'feel good factor'. The weeks ahead would see, among others, the leaders of two major political parties — the Congress and the BJP — hustle on the hustings. There would be frenetic parleys and deliberations, reunions and comebacks, alliances and "seat-sharing adjustments".

Amidst the pre-poll preparedness and panic what stands out, stark and clear, is BJP's smugness and desperation taking wilder proportions with each passing day. While the former is manifested in its publicity gimmick- 'India Shining' campaign, the later in its populist measures: sops doled out to woo the electorate. The farmers, businessmen, students, government employees — you name them and the BJP-led NDA has something on offer. Not to mention, the grandiose talks of "Ek Naya Bharat Banane Ka Irada Man Men Hai", that has, of late, come to occupy much of the space in print and electronic media.

The "spin-doctors" of the party have been at the phantasmal orchestration of "India Shining" since long. And, by now , billions have been frittered away on the mindless gloating over the "achievements" of the BJP-led NDA Government. It takes little clairvoyance to perceive the real intent behind the massive ad campaign: electoral harvest. However, the exercise to create a facade of "well-being" with an eye on the elections, has nothing new to it. Such political chicanery has always been typical of BJP ever since it came to power. Rhetoric and realpolitik have been synonymous with the party ever since.

During the days preceding to its elevation to power (and till recently), hatred remained at the root of its queer and dangerous brand of politics. Desperate to taste power, it took recourse to stoking up communal embers through inflammatory speeches and slogans, rath yatras and countless other shenanigans to bring 'the faithful', 'the Rambhakts', 'the patriots' to its fold in order to unsheathe the sword of 'majoritarian tyranny'. Never before had religion been so grossly been misused by any political party in India. The demolition of Babri Mosque served as an important 'milestone' in its march to power. With the ancient structure, the very edifice of India's secularism came crumbling down.

Having whipped up the communal frenzy, it emerged to champion 'the cause' that adorned its (un)Hidden Agenda. In the years that followed, the party that hitherto hovered around the periphery, gradually took centre stage riding on the wave of intolerance, Hindu chauvinism and jingoism.

In 1999, the party, lacking an absolute majority, had to beg (or buy) support from the other 'like-minded parties' to form the Colossus Coalition of a motley group of parties (that included many a pseudo-secularist and a specious socialist, who decided to join hands with the communalists) called National Democratic Alliance (NDA), ironically, otherwise in essence. 

Once in power through misuse of religion, the BJP heading the NDA, embarked on an unprecedented abuse of power. (Once again, never before had power so grossly been abused by any political party.) The rogues and the lumpens were let loose to enforce a reign of terror. The rowdies were given a free hand to subvert justice, equality, liberty and fraternity. The goons — belonging to the terror outfits of the Sangh parivar — with 'Ram' on their lips and venom in their minds, played havoc with the country's secular and plural image. They held the entire nation to ransom. There were organised attacks on Christian missionaries, freedom of speech and expression, flagrant violations of constitutional safeguards, etc. It was not at all a shining moment for the largest democracy under the Sun.

All this while, a supine PM was busy changing masks. He did, however, occasionally blurt out for the 'national debate on conversion' and , much later, for 'Aar paar ki Ladai', and similar lines. All along, his deputy kept crying hoarse over ‘ISI', 'cross-border terrorism', 'Bangladeshi immigrants' , blah, blah, blah... Jaundiced Joshi, on the other hand, was through and through busy exploiting the resources (and the men) at his disposal to demolish ‘history' and replace it with another version that suited the BJP's divisive agenda, leaving no stone unturned to saffronise the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), University Grants Commission (UGC), Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and what have you. 

The year 2002 saw the BJP unveil its fascist face by presiding over a premeditated pogrom in one of the states under its rule. While India burned (not shined), the PM and the home minister proved that they were nothing more than Sangh Pracharaks. While India bled, the BJP felt buoyed up with bliss.

Today, the very party that had through a well-chalked out strategy, changed the very face of India — socially, politically, educationally and culturally — is trying to hoodwink the people into believing that it is the saviour of the nation. It is moving ahead with its mission to mislead the masses through endless propaganda — ranging from showing techni-colour dreams to all and sundry, to enticing and roping in the rich and the famous for an image makeover. 

In the run-up to the elections, it has come up with a new poll plank: "development". There is talk of making India a developed nation by 2020. The 'moderate mask' of the otherwise viscerally communal, fascist party is seen and heard talking of its dream to make "Ek Naya Bharat". 

Is the new India Vajpayee dreams to make really the one he has on his mind? Or, is there more to it that he keeps to himself, only to come out with it at the right moment? Would it be an India of the countrymen's dream or a ''Hindu Rashtra"?

On the eve of elections, the realisation must dawn upon the discerning electorate that the BJP is essentially an opportunistic party (and in it lies its 'identity' as a party with a difference) which can stoop to any low to remain in power. Given its track record of changing the chameleon colours every now and then, it is foolhardy to believe that it would lead the country on a path of peace, progress and prosperity. Indeed, India would shine brighter without the BJP. 

Nawaid Anjum, New Delhi

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