If all the allegations against the BJP were correct and the government’s claims of its achievements in the last seven years were nothing more than media hype, event management and fake news, why will it win election after election and extend its footprints all over India?
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Jan Sangh was founded by Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee, the first Industry & Supply Minister of independent India, in 1950 after he resigned from Nehru’s Cabinet. In 1977, it merged with other parties and metamorphosed into Janata Party. But it broke away from Janata Party three years later and was reincarnated as the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980 with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its first president. Under A.B. Vajpayee and L.K. Advani (he remains the longest serving president with three terms) the BJP raised its tally in the Lok Sabha from a minuscule two seats in 1984 to 182 in1999, riding high on the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. This right of the centre party, which was perceived by millions as the party of Brahmins and Banias for decades has attained unprecedented heights under Narendra Damodardas Modi, who spent years as a pracharak of the RSS and rose from a chaiwala to be the successful Chief Minister of Gujarat.It jumped to 282 seats in the Lok Sabha in 2014 and 303 seats in 2019, largely on account of his tireless campaigning in elections, his enviable oratory, his ability to communicate with the masses projecting an inspiring and enticing vision for India.His government has initiated hundreds of schemes from Swachh Bharat and Ayushman Bharat to Jan Dhan Yojana to Ujjwala focusing on the welfare of the common people and trying toaddress problems of their daily lives and concernsof their families and thus offering ease of living.
On the other hand, by doing away with scores of outdated rules, regulations, permits and licences and enacting insolvency and bankruptcy laws, GST, streamlining tax structure, throwing open most sectors exceptcertain sensitive defence and security areas for private investment, pushing for digital India, curtailing corruption and the middlemen, Modi has endeared himself to India Inc notwithstanding their frequent complaints that next generation economic reforms haven’t been introduced.
With Air India having returned to Tata, its original founder and Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani already well entrenched in many sectors, the jibes of “suit boot ki sarkar”and crony capitalism will persist. Evidently, in BJP’s phenomenal rise, the RSS, its philosophical and ideological guru, has played a huge role.
Notwithstanding increasing allegations of its authoritarianism, intolerance of contrarian views, muzzling of media, control of leading institutions, arbitrary arrestsof journalists critical of the government, cow vigilantism, mob lynching, manhandling of members of a minority community in the BJP ruled states and questions raised abroad about religious freedom andhuman rights,the BJP has emergedtoday as the world’slargest political party with twice the number of the Chinese Communist Party; it now rulesin 18 states in alliance with its partners.
If all the allegations against the BJP were correct and the government’s claims of its achievements in the last seven years were nothing more than media hype, event management and fake news, why will it win election after election and extend its footprints all over India including in the Northeast?
Truth may lie somewhere in between. Many schemes announced by the government might not have been 100% successful but they might have a strike rate of 60%;they have brought in positive benefits in the lives of millions of people who understandably support the BJP. Conversely, allegations of intolerance, highhandedness and attacks on freedom of expression and rights of the minorities might be grossly exaggerated. Speaking at the India Today Conclave at Taj Palace hotel on 9October, Rakesh Tikait, the most visible face of the farmers’ agitation, openly said that PM Modi tells lies in India and abroad about the farmers’ agitation and that there was no medicine for telling lies. Could he have got away with his statement if the press was really muzzled? It speaks as much for Modi’s magnetic pull at the moment as the sorry state of affairs in the 136-year-old Congress party that long-time loyal Congress leaders such as Jitin Prasada, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Tom Vadakkanand Khushboo Sundar have deserted it and joined the BJP.
Frustratedsenior Congress leaders who have spent the best part of their political career in defending the Gandhi Nehru family, formed the G-23 a year back but have achieved nothing except issuing periodic lettersto the acting president reiterating their demands for organizational elections, a full time president and inner party democracy. The BJP needs to do very little when the likes of Navjot Sidhuand Youth Congress members throwing tomatoes at Kapil Sibal’s residenceare already pulling down the Congress.
The demonetization and lockdowns during the corona pandemic caused huge stress to millions of daily wage earners in the informal sector and devastated the Indian economy, which is still struggling to recover but the Opposition parties have failedto exploit these issues fully to their advantage.
Only, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi have defeated convincingly the formidable Modi-Shah duo, the RSS and the machinery of the Central government, not once but twice. Surprisingly, the Congress and other parties can’t still figure out how to contain and counter the BJP.Sothey resort to copying BJP’s tactics without thanking her. Or what explains Rahul Gandhi’s visit to over 200 temples during the 2019 parliamentary elections reportedly advised by Kamal Nath or Digvijaya Singh or both? Alas, its tally of 52 seats in the Lok Sabha suggests that the deities didn’t bless the Congress enough for reasons best known to them. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s booksWhy I am a Hinduand The Hindu Way were a response to BJP’s Hindutva narrative.
With the foundation stone having been laid by PM Modi in the presence of the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, the construction of an impressive Ram Temple in Ayodhya is in progress. It’s the fulfilment of BJP’s manifesto, which it will publicize to the hilt in the forthcoming elections.
With 80% of voters being Hindus, no political party could afford to express any reservations about the construction of the temple. The Kejriwal government was quick to realise its significance and announced help to those who wished to visit Ayodhya.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is a smart politician; he intends to beat the BJP in its own game. While the BJP is talking of the birthplace of Ram Lala, Baghel has gone a step further and flagged his state as a 2,260 km long Ram Van Gaman PariyatanParipath and invited devotees to the temple at Chandrakhuri dedicated to Kaushalya, Lord Ram’s mother.
And taking a leaf out of BJP’s playbook, Kejriwal has introduced Desh Bhakti lessons in the curriculum of state run schools and extolled how this endeavour will inculcate patriotism.There is some truth in the old saying: if you can’t beat them, join them. Kejriwal is BJP’s political rival but has no qualms in pinching some of their emotionally effective tricks. Isn’t there a lesson for RahulGandhi?
Surendra Kumar is a former ambassador of India.