A fiction writer is not someone a political party should pay attention to, I would normally say. If the fiction writer is Chetan Bhagat, I would rather stay away. However Chetan Bhagat in his recent article makes some simple points for BJP’s rejuvenation and I feel BJP must pay attention to it.
I was once into RSS. There was one strong observation I made about them is that, they generally deal in absolute. If you are not with them, you are against them. And as Obi Wan Kenobi would say, only Siths deal in absolute. I think a party acquires this trait once it gets into the hands of lawyers. People like Kapil Sibbal and Arun Jaitley always come up with nonsensical arguments on TV. That kind of argument might work in front of the Goddess of Justice but certainly it doesn’t work with our people.
Leave Chetan Bhagat aside and look for more sophisticated advice from someone who is more respectable, Tavleen Singh. Mere the title of her article points out to the biggest problem with BJP. She asks the question “Does the BJP stand for anything ?”.
When Atal Bihari Vajpeyi was at the helm of affairs, I remember my opinion of BJP was something like below. Yes argument suggesting otherwise may come from some people but then no one can deny that the impression they gave was similar to what I felt.
1. Party with right leaning economic policies. The party looked pro-business, started disinvestment and so on.
2. A party that can take tough stand on national security. This image got a blow after Kandahar hijacks but looking as Manmohan Singh I wonder if he would have decided to declare war if Pakistan had tried to occupy Kargil. Vajpeyi at least got it back.
3. Party that is faithful to it’s principles.
4. Party which promotes clean and competent people. It was BJP that got Shourie, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha into cabinet ministry despite they having a mass base.
When I heard Vajpeyi talking in parliament I could see that he is driven by principles and not opportunism. His decisions reflected that now and then.
Compare it to today’s BJP. It seems like a party with jokers. They spend a lot of time telling us that Congress is corrupt. We all know that we ask “How is BJP any different ?”. Once we ask that question the leadership blames us to be anti-BJP or pro-congress. A trait that the party shares with it’s parent organization. Dealing in absolute when it comes to criticism.
I meet very dedicated and young party workers in Goa and Maharashtra. Whenever I bring up the issue of politics they are very apologetic. The conversation starts with the sentence “I know BJP is not 100% clean..”. Now this is a clear sign that the top leaders have failed their young supporters. Your own foot soldiers don’t believe that the party is clean neither do they believe that you are committed to make it clean.
Each time I see Arun Jaitley, Sushama Swaraj , Advani on television I see that they hunger for power. They have no principles what so ever but they will take the first opportunity to grab power. They do not take a stand on any issue because they don’t know from which side the opportunity might come. The moment you take a stand on some issue some doors are closed for you. If you are driven by principle you don’t care. If you are driven by opportunism you wonder what if “the opportunity to grab the power lies behind that door?”. You try to take an unclear stand.
Tavleen Singh highlights BJP’s failures
When it comes to anti-corruption sentiment in public BJP supported the two idiotic movements headed by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. Could not BJP come up a more political movement of it’s own with a more clear agenda? Couldn’t it see that both Anna and Ramdev are essentially advocating a “statist” approach which is against BJP’s perceived right leaning economic position ? BJP saw a wave and tried to jump on it. #EPICFAIL
The BJP’s reckless support for Hazare and Baba Ramdev is of a piece with the role it has played in Opposition since 2004. It is as if the party’s senior leaders have no political ideas of their own and so are forced to pick them out of newspaper headlines and news bulletins on our 24-hour news channels.
Second, is BJP’s failure to oppose MNREGA. Yeah, it is pro-poor but one can clearly see it is like giving away money from government’s funds to buy votes. Not only it is a stupid scheme it is putting forth a wrong path. Giving our dole. another #EPICFAIL. Why would BJP do that? It feared that if it takes a stand against it, it might lose vote of poor. If the scheme screws up economy, screws up agriculture its okay. All we need is some votes, which too they are not going to get.
If it was genuinely rightist in its economic views, it should have protested vigorously when the Prime Minister agreed to pour taxpayers money into schemes like MNREGA. Even its creators now admit that it has served mostly to spread corruption down to the village level. And, it has created difficulties in the agricultural labour market by handing out dole. This has caused such a crisis that the Ministry of Agriculture itself recently asked that MNREGA be suspended in seasons of sowing and harvesting. Yet, not only has the ‘rightist’ BJP remained silent about the scheme’s flaws, it has allowed it to spread to states it rules.
Third point that Tavleen brings up is the most important one. NAC. National Advisory council is a Sith council set up by the Sith Lord Sonia Gandhi. This an unconstitutional body interferes into all government matters. NAC is powered by whos who of left-secular-liberal lobby that includes Manu Joseph to Teesta Setlwaad (two people were advisors for the recent communal violence bill). The official member list is here. NAC is completely off the media radar. They maintain a very low profile. Most of the people are not aware of it’s existence. NAC drafts laws, it tell PM what he should be doing. In short is a group of unelected people who form policies. BJP should thrown all it’s weight to oppose and dismantle NAC which sadly they havent done.
The National Advisory Council itself is something the BJP should have objected to but never has. From its dubious lawmakers, now comes a food security bill that makes no sense. If it is ever implemented, we might need to start importing shiploads of food grain as we used to do in socialist times when India was famous only as ‘a land of starving millions’.
More puzzling still is the inability of the BJP to speak up even when senior members of the Congress Party have openly declared that Hindutva terrorists are more dangerous to India than the jihadi groups Pakistan sends us. This is so outrageous that political commentators who despise Hindutva, have spoken up but the BJP’s senior leaders have remained silent. So the question that we need to ask is whether the BJP stands for anything at all? Does it have ideas on governance that are different to Congress? Does it have a vision of India that is different to Congress? Does it have a foreign policy that is different to Congress? Does it believe in free markets or a subsidised socialist economy? Does it oppose hereditary democracy?
At least in my case, if BJP wants my vote in 2014 elections they will have to answer the questions mentioned by Tavlee, and that too with absolute clarity and through their actions. Otherwise I would rather like to see Congress coming back into the power and Rahul Gandhi becoming Prime Minister. Under Rahul Gandhi’s completely nincompoop leadership country will travel to a catastrophic destruction at much after pace. After that destruction there will be a hope for a much better future than the B-grade copy of Congress aka BJP can offer us.