BJP’S FAILURE: An Unbiased Observation
Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari
While BJP was in Power:
Before analyzing the defeat of BJP in the present Lok Sabha election, it is necessary to have a look how the Party came to power in 1999 with 192 MPs. One may recall that in the Lok Sabha elections held in 1998 the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) obtained a simple majority. This time, the BJP had allied with the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal besides its existing allies, the Samata Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiv Sena. Outside support was provided by the Telugu Desam Party. The NDA had a slim majority, and Vajpayee returned as Prime Minister. But the coalition ruptured in May 1999 when the leader of AIADMK, Jayalalitha, withdrew her support, and fresh elections were again called in October, 1999. Within this brief period, BJP did two remarkable jobs that made it popular across the country. Firstly, it conducted the testing of the nuclear device at Pokhran and secondly, it fought the Kargil war with Pakistan in May-July, 1999.
These two achievements were hailed by the entire population who discovered a courageous fighter in BJP, capable of protecting the sovereignty and freedom of the nation and thrashing the rogue enemy state Pakistan. The people of this country gave BJP a hero’s welcome and, as a consequence, in the Lok Sabha election held on October 13, 1999, the BJP-led NDA won 303 seats. The BJP won an all-time high of 183 seats. Vajpayee became Prime Minister for the third time in his life, and Advani became the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister.
But the said image of BJP was considerably shattered when the NDA government shamefully submitted to the unjust demands of the Pakistani terrorists after the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane, Flight no. 814 on December 24, 1999, and released three dreaded terrorists, most undemocratic way, from the Kashmir jail and one cabinet minister went to Kandahar, by a special plane, with those three terrorists and rupees 900 crores and a planeload of high explosive (to be used against India),.as ransom But after the hijacking drama, it would have been proper for the NDA government to order our army to cross the border of Afghanistan and our air force to bomb Kabul and Kandahar. And thus force the terrorists to release 174 passangers and 15 crew members of the hijacked plane. In this context, one may recall how the Russian government dealt with the Chechen terrorists who seized a school in Beslan in 2004.
On December 13, 2001, five terrorists attacked the Parliament House (Sansad Bhawan) in Delhi. It was due to the prompt and brave action of our security forces, six of whom sacrificed their lives, the lives of a few hundred of our MPs were saved. After this incident many of our commentators described it as a rape of our Parliament, or rather a rape of our democracy. Our military top brass advised the government to take immediate military action against Pakistan and hence to teach a good lesson to that rogue state. Some of our top army personnel commented that we had enough of talks, and time had arrived to act. So an army mobilization was ordered and our troops, with their modern sophisticated weapons were dispatched to the Indo-Pak border and were waiting for final signal from our leaders to cross the border. Our troops were waiting for months after months, but the NDA government failed to gather sufficient courage to give that final signal. Ultimately troops were withdrawn wasting nearly three thousand crores of rupees, as the cost of mobilization and wear and tear of the sophisticated weapons. It is important to note that, had the NDA government conducted the military operation against Pakistan and taught that rogue state a good lesson, the people of this country would have given a hero’s welcome to BJP for the second time and they would have voted BJP to victory in the 2004 Lok Sabha election.
On April 21, 2001, Bangladesh Rifles abducted 15 Border Security Force (BSF) personnel into Bangladesh. They subsequently butchered all the 15 BSF men and carried their mutilated bodies like carcass of animals to return the dead bodies in an extremely humiliating manner. As a cover up of that criminal act by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the government of Bangladesh said that our BSF men illegally crossed the Bangladeshi border and hence BDR captured and killed them. It is to be noted here that, even if it is admitted that the BSF men had entered Bangladesh illegally, it was proper for BDR arrest them and produce them in the court of law. In any case, they could not have killed them.
The most justified reply of the NDA government to this heinous crime was to give order to our army to cross the border of Bangladesh and march towards Dhaka. But our leaders, for the lack sufficient courage or for the sake of its newly adopted policy of Muslim appeasement, failed to take military action against even a small and weak nation like Bangladesh. On the contrary, they supported the claim of the government of Bangladesh that our forces had done a wrong and by entering Bangladesh without any provocation. Our PM sent his personal secretary Brojesh Misra to Dhaka to beg pardon on behalf of the Indian Government for the so called offence committed by our BSF personnel.
It is needless to say that all the above mentioned cowardice acts have completely shattered the image BJP had built up by fighting the Kargil War and testing nuclear device at Pokhran. And there is no doubt that this loss of image had played a major role in its defeat in 2004 Lok Sabha election.
The Hindu Nationalist Party Turned Secular:
We should now have a look on the other activities of the NDA government during its tenure that lasted for 6 years. As a matter of fact, the BJP is a direct successor of The Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), founded in 1951 by Dr Syama Prasad Mookherjee and it was considered the political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). After the murder of Dr Mookherjee in custody in 1953, the BJS lasted for 24 more years, but never seriously challenged the power of Indian National Congress It is well known that in 1977, a group of top leaders of BJS, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, formed the new party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS duly recognized this new party as its political organ. So, it is not difficult to understand that “Hindutva” was the fundamental basis of BJP and its ultimate goal was to make India a “Hindu Rastra”.
So, before the Lok Sabha elections in 1998 and 1999, the BJP declared the followings as its professed goals. :
2. The Repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution, which prevents non-Kashmiris, including Hindus who have fled the area due to increasing terrorism, from owning property in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
3. The Promulgation of a Uniform Common Civil Code, which create only one personal and civil law code for Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
4. A Ban on Cow Slaughter, to honor the Hindu tradition of not consuming the flesh of cow, and prohibiting the consumption of beef.
5. A Complete Ban on Religious Conversions
6. The Construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya,.
7. To achieve the full territorial and political integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India. Presently over 40% of the territory is under the control of Pakistan and China.
8. Identification of Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators and send them back to Bangladesh and at the same time taking proper steps to stop infiltration of Bangladeshi Muslims to West Bengal..
9. Rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pundits, who have been evicted from their home land Kashmir and living as refugees in the refugee camps in Delhi.
But after assuming power, the NDA government did not take any initiative to implement any of the above promises. On the contrary, during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister Sri Vajpayee assured the Kashmiri Muslims that, so long he is the Prime Minister, the Article 370 would continue. During election campaign BJP promised that it would never indulge in appeasement of the Muslims. But after assuming power, NDA government increased Hajj subsidy for the Muslims and hiked the salary of the imams. Previously the Muslims pilgrims intending to go to Mecca to perform Hajj, had to travel to Mumbai and from Mumbai they used to fly to Jeddah at subsidized rate. But the NDA government arranged flights from all the major cities of India to Mecca and built rest houses, specially for the Hajj pilgrims, in all the major cities of the country.
While it was expected that the NDA government, after assuming power, would strive hard to implement the above mentioned national agenda and hence to consolidate Hindu votes, but on the contrary, it displayed a strong inclination to acquire Muslim votes by appeasement of the Muslims. They floated the idea that all Muslims are not anti-nationals and there also exists a large group of good as well as nationalist Muslims, who are to be brought under the banner of BJP. Which was as ridiculous and bogus as saying, “All cobras are not bad and there are good cobras as well.” On the basis of this newly invented ridiculous, baseless and bogus ideology, they started to appease the Muslims in a big way, especially in 2000-2001, when Bangaru Laxman became the president of the Party. It is needless to say that from this time onwards, the Hindus started not only to reject, but to hate BJP and its leaders.
As mentioned above, prior to the 1999 election, BJP promised to identify every Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrator and send them back to Bangladesh. But after assuming power, the NDA government, according to their newly adopted policy of Muslim appeasement, took no step in this direction. On the contrary, it adopted a serious anti Hindu step in this context. Previously, the Hindus who, being persecuted by the Muslims, were coming to India from Bangladesh were treated as refugees. But NDA government deprived the Hindus from this facility (which is the standing policy of the UN) and started to treat the Hindus as infiltrators, like the Muslims. In one incident, a Hindu housewife, to save her life from the Muslim goons of Bangladesh, was crossing the border by swimming a canal and the Indian security forces gunned her down. Due to this step-motherly attitude of the NDA government towards the Bangladeshi Hindus, lakhs of Bangladeshi Hindus are still not getting refugee status and hence any assistance from either the state or the Central government.
Another important promise made by BJP was implementation of the uniform civil code for all the citizens on India, irrespective of religion or other differences. In this context, it is important to note that, a verdict of the Supreme Court in mid-2003 upheld the necessity of enforcing ‘common civil code’ in India, which could liberate India’s Muslim women from the shameful gender discrimination like polygamy and oral divorce. But the NDA government, in tune with its new policy of Muslim appeasement, did not take any initiative in this direction, because such a step would have displeased the orthodox Muslim clerics.
Most importantly, the NDA government remained not only silent regarding the construction of temple at Ayodhya, but opposed any attempt or any movement for temple construction. During its tenure Vishwa Hindu Parishad gave a call for a demonstration of the activists at Ayodhya. But to frustrate the effort, NDA government promulgated an ordinance so that police can arrest anyone found to purchase a railway ticket for Ayodhya anywhere in the country. In Kolkata, many VHP workers were arrested and put into police custody, while they were found to purchase railway ticket for Ayodhya at Howrah and Sealdah railway stations. It is really surprising that the NDA government took such step against the people who voted it to power.
When the author of this article asked a BJP leader about this affair, he said that most of the allies of the NDA are secular minded and hence if the government wanted to move forward any issue concerning the Hindus, they would withdraw their support leading to a fall of the NDA government. The question naturally arises – Did the Hindus voted BJP to rule for a full term at the sacrifice of the Hindutva issues? The leaders of BJP failed to understand that, had the government fallen due to an initiative of the BJP to fulfill its pre-election promises, the Hindus would have voted BJP again, perhaps more profusely, and help form the government. But our leaders preferred to remain in power at the sacrifice of its pre-poll promises and thus earned distrust of the Hindus. Many Hindus began to call BJP as “Biswasghatak Janata Party”.
Thus, without caring for the sentiment of the electorate, who voted it to power, BJP or the NDA government dumped all its nationalist agenda into the cold storage and at the fag end of its tenure started to build roads, as if the voters had voted it to power for making roads. Prime Minister Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was, perhaps, confident that the said road building and the economic reforms he had undertaken, would return him to power again. But the poll results 2004 election reflected that he was wrong. He learned the bitter lesson that the Hindu voters did not make him the Prime Minister of India for making roads and bring economic reforms.
During the 5 year period from 2004 to 2009, BJP has left no stone unturned to expose itself a truly secular party through complete renunciation of its Hindu identity. Its leaders failed to grasp that it drew strength and status from Hindu society alone and it was the Hindus who voted it to power. They failed to learn a lesson from the debacle of 2004 election. So, in stead of Hindutva agenda, they depended on good governance and development to win the 2009 election and kept silence about the most cherished Hindu issues like temple building in Ayodhya, scrapping of Article 370, enforcement of common civil code and so on.
Projecting L K Advani as the Prime Ministerial Candidate:
In this election, the leaders of BJP, without giving much thought, projected elderly Sri L K Advani as its Prime Ministerial candidate, whom a section of the Hindus have identified as a traitor quite a long ago. Sri Advani is the man who, after the demolition of the old temple at Ayodhya on 6th December, 1992, said that it was the most tragic day in his life. Not only that, “Mr. Advani took the demolition of the contentious structure as a personal slight (he had promised the Supreme Court nothing would happen), and without any discussion with senior party colleagues present there, especially then party president Murli Manohar Joshi, resigned his post as Leader of the Opposition by faxing his resignation to the Lok Sabha Speaker and releasing the information to the press. The party was faced with an uncomfortable fait accompli”, writes Mrs Sandhya Jain in her recent article L K Advani: From History to Oblivion.
On 4th June, 2007, when Advani was visiting the mausoleum of M A Jinnah in Karachi, Pakistan, said that Jinnah was a great man and he was secular leader. When I asked a BJP leader of West Bengal, about that contentious comment of Advani, to my utmost astonishment, he supported Advani and said, “Advaniji was right. In fact, Jinnah was a staunch secular leader at the beginning of his political career.. But later on Gandhi and Nehru spoiled him.” If this was the BJP-way of looking at things, who would rescue it from its imminent downfall?
Nearly 7-8 years ago, when NDA was in power, Advani said that the day of idealism is over, now the day is of new ideas. Or indirectly, he made it clear that BJP would no longer follow the Hindutva ideology as propagated by its parent organization RSS. Or the ideology which had been identified by Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurovindo, Dr Hedgewar and Guruji Gowalkar as the sole path for the revival of this Hindu nation. All such utterances of Advani makes one to convince that Sri Advani and his coterie have dragged BJP, originally a political party of distinction with the aim for achieving a noble and lofty goal, down to an ordinary political party of petty and conspiratorial politics.
As a result, Hindus lost faith in BJP and its staunch supporters, on their poll-day, remained indoor and enjoyed a holiday. Only 25 per cent of the Hindu electorates turned up at the polling booths to exercise their democratic right and BJP suffered the obvious setback. Only God knows how many years it will take to recover this setback and get back the confidence of the Hindus again.