The national BJP Conclave saw the party enveloped in a confident and optimistic mood after its recent electoral victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
The party leader, Mr L K Advani, has avowed to embark on another all India ‘Sankalp Yatra’ to rouse the party rank and file for the upcoming state assembly and Lok Sabha polls. He revived the old slogan of the BJP being the ‘party with a difference’, originally coined by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. His ‘marg darshan’ projected the need for ‘good governance, development and security’, and also involved his aspiration to see the party achieve its ambition of winning 361 Lok Sabha seats. The party also approved an amendment to give 33% reservation to women workers at all levels, except in the central offices and the decision making body of the Parliamentary Board. He also expressed the party’s disdain for corruption at all levels, and urged for a strong leadership to effectively deal with issues of terrorism and Naxalism, with ‘zero tolerance’. The party hit out at the Congress’ anti ‘aam aadmi’ policies, and the need to speed up growth and generate more employment.
The party refrained from any mention of thorny issues, such as the Ram temple, but spoke against the Congress ‘policy of appeasement’, at the same time assuring Muslims that the tactics of the Congress in the last sixty years have not helped them in any way. Advani also cited the result of the Gujarat polls as proof of the ‘secular’ credentials of Narendra Modi. Sushma Swaraj, meanwhile, urged members to settle their internal differences and be prudent in forming coalitions in all the states, where it would be possible to increase their chances of victory. She also announced that the party would be undertaking a study to determine the effects of the delimitation changes and the strategy to win the seats in the newly marked constituencies.
The party’s new diktat seems to be toeing the same line as that of the Congress, despite their own views of how ‘different’ their stand is. The party has been steadily moving away from its hardline Hindutva rhetoric for years now, the issues of Ram Janambhoomi, Article 370, and the Uniform Civil Code have been placed on the back burner, and they are voicing their concerns about the plight of the minorities and the tribes in the same fashion as that of the Congress. This is in tandem with the need to invite more allies for its future course, and more regional players for forming coalition governments, to have a stable base in national politics. The dissenters within the party are unhappy over the prospect of losing their loyal vote bank by this strategy, who believe that it was Hindutva in the 1980’s that helped attract a greater following for the party, and the above line of dilution might fritter away the loyal supporters. However, the BJP high command does not want to risk showcasing itself as the party of any one community. For this, it cannot afford to be conservative or communal on major concerns; the party has also had to change its stand on the reservations issue.
The Congress, over the years, has reneged from Nehru’s ‘consensus building’ formula to Shastri’s ‘jai jawan jai kisan’ motto, to Indira’s ‘garibi hatao’, and in recent times, to Mahmohan Singh’s dictum of free market and foreign investment policies. It has effectively used every change in the environment to drum up support for its policies. Most of these changes are purposely kept vague to mean different things to different people, as the parties try their best not to alienate one section, while attracting another. The BJP, similarly, over time, has mutated from the likes of ‘Integrated Humanism’ to the present ‘soft Hindutva’ politics. These changes have been defended time and again as an illustration of the party’s ‘evolution’ and growth. What remains to be debated is whether such turncoat attitude means actual growth of the party, or does it present their ideological crisis? Does it present the state of being so trapped in power politics, that ethics and morality are easily oscillated and bargained in the lust for more votes? The Congress plays the Hindus card as casually as the BJP runs after the Muslims, while both vie for the ‘secular’ tag on the other side. Do we really have much choice as citizens?
[Image courtesy: http://www.havelshouseofhistory.com/Advani,%20Lal%20Krishna.jpg]