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Published in the 16-30 Apr 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

The BJP-NDA dossier
By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

Lucknow: When the biggest democracy in the world goes to polls this month, it perhaps becomes incumbent to drive home certain truths of everything good, and bad of the past six-years of governance. The BJP led NDA went to polls in 1999 after its 13- month previous rule.

"We have to have eagle eyes because the BJP gave us Indians an illusion that now India under BJP would get a face-lift, but, their rule has been the worst ever in the history of Independent India. We have come up with a ‘White-Paper’ on the BJP-NDA rule at the Centre to let Indians know the quagmire we all have been sucked into," said SK Singh while releasing the 14-page document on March 26 at hotel Charans, Lucknow, the state capital of UP.

The document is a joint effort of Yaseen Ali Usmani of All India Milli Council, SK Singh of Abhiyan Samajik Nyay and Kanhaya of Bahujan Vam Shakti.

It killed the myth of BJP's success in keeping its allies united. It stated as per National Agenda for Governance (NAG) that ten-political parties disgusted with the difference in its claims and deeds have left the NDA. Quoting MDMK chief Vaiko, once an uncompromising ally of BJP in Tamil Nadu, who was made to serve a 19-months jail under POTA. "I deserve the jail for voting for POTA. Allying with BJP was a mistake." Even the former law minister Ram Jethmalani (he has resigned from BJP and plans to contest against AB Vajpayee from Lucknow) made a public apology and confessed to a tribunal organised in assisting several human rights groups on March 16, 2004. "For the present act-POTA-I apologise for the error in judgement. As POTA came into place, I felt it would not be misused, but how disgracefully it has been misused. I do not support the enactment of the law." The document also brought to light, that even today, ‘POTA is said to be a major source of miscarriage of justice. According to an estimate, today 297 Muslims alone are accused and 167 are languishing in the prisons under this draconian law. Incidentally, the number is larger in the BJP ruled states like Gujrat and Jharkhand.’

Focusing on the real picture of NDA the ‘white-paper’ focussed on the growing inequality in the nation. While India has slipped from rank 124 to 127 in the Human Development Index of the UN Development Programme, worse is the fact that at a time when the hungry were forced to buy rice at Rs. 6.40/kgs in the drought hit regions of Andhra Pradesh in 2002, India exported rice at Rs. 5.45 per kg!

The ‘white-paper’ also deliberated on NDA’s regime which is marred by scams as there has been the infamous coffin-gate scam (Kargil Martyr coffins were bought at 13 times higher then the actual price), Killer MIG’s, misuse of Kargil cases, irregularities into purchases for Operation Vijay (Kargil Intrusion), Petrol Pump and Gas Agency allotment scam, Medical Procurement scam, Plot allotment to some organisations of Sangh Parivar (RSS) scam. ‘It was a shame that even the coffin scam could not shake the conscience and the BJP led-coalition which was engaged into making deals and receiving cuts on the purchases of coffins bought for carrying bodies of Shaheed Jawans.’

‘Equally shameful was the sensational Tehelka expose which showed BJP President Bangaru Laxman accepting token amount on tape and asking for further payment in American Dollars. Bangaru Laxman himself mentioned the names of Brajesh Misra, Principal Secretary to PM and Ranjan Bhattacharya, AB Vajpayee’s foster-son-in-law and said that they influence the dealings of various ministries like defense, external affairs and power. The tape also captured the then Samta Party (NDA ally) President Jaya Jaitley asking money to facilitate a defense deal, at defense Minister George Fernandes official residence. It was more shameful that instead of taking the expose as a wake-up call or warning, itself came under attack and was hounded, leading to its closure. 
Commenting on foreign policy the ‘white-paper’ questioned rightly, ‘It is astonishing that it has not been able to have very cordial relations with Nepal, the only country of the world professing Hinduism as the official religion!’ It expressed the sorrowful condition of foreign policy which became visible when NDA compromised the case of Tibet and also a clear departure from pervious policy vis-à-vis Arab-Israel conflict.

The ‘white-paper’ also highlights the saffronisation of education, ouster of heads of prestigious institutions like Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) and Indian Council for Scientific and Social Research (ICSSR), making uncalled-for interventions and forcing minority institutions like Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Hamdard, Delhi to go through common admission tests and controlling all aid from donors through Bharat Shiksha Kosh. While, at the same time Shishu Mandirs ( RSS sponsored schools) flourished and its number increased ten-fold.

"The white-paper is our last ditch effort to bring to everyone a realisation that it is this time or never as all the overwhelming secular citizens should not let their votes be split and BJP led NDA government may be asked to sign an obituary. The secularists will have to come out, as a necessity, because probably every democratic institution would be dismantled, disbanded and the fascists hidden agenda would be an open-implementation manifesto," said SK Singh.
Let these elections be the SOS call to all secularists.

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