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Bharatiya Janata Party:
Political Agenda-Economic Policies

By Ram Puniyani

07 April, 2004
Issues In Secular Politics

BJP has emerged as the major political party during last the decade.
Though it has ruled as a part of NDA (National Democratic Alliance) its
imprint on the Government policies has been very strong. The NDA allies
have content themselves to playing a junior partners to BJP and barring
keeping out the core Hindutva agenda, Ram Temple, abolition of article 370
(Related to autonomy of (Kashmir) and Uniform civil code, they have let
the BJP agenda prevail in most of the social fields and in the political
governance of the country.

Power in the Center:

From a small north Indian-Hindu Political party, its transformation as a
major player began with its Ram Temple campaign. This campaign
crystallized itself after Mandal Commission implementation. Implementation
of Mandal Commission was a move on the part of VP Singh Govt. to implement an affirmative action for the weaker sections of society in the form of reservation in the government jobs. BJP essentially has support base
amongst the urban upper classes/castes and represents their interests in
preference to the longings and aspirations of weaker social groups. The
campaign was accompanied by a subtle anti minority slant and culminated in
the demolition of Babri Mosques, one of the biggest shames for the Nation.
This was followed by intense communal riots in different parts of the
country, this in turn led to the consolidation of its base and the rise in
its electoral power. Every communal violence leads to its strengthening.
By a gradual intensification of its electoral support it came in the
position to be the largest political party despite polling a miserly 23%
of votes in the last Lok Sabha (Parliament elections).

Political Ideology:

BJP is political wing of RSS the core organization, which controls
different political and quasi-political formations like Vishwa Hindu
Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Vanvasi Kalyan Ahsram and the like. Most of these
organizations are the ideological affiliates of BJP. It is these
organizations, which spread, hate against minorities, Muslims and
Christians, on a regular basis. These organizations also have branches in
different countries including US from where they collect funds from the
NRI Indians on the pretext of social work. Most of this fund goes in
spreading the Hindutva ideology, which bases overtly on spreading hate
against Muslims and Christians in particular. Hindutva basically stands
for a Hindu Nation, where the modern democratic decencies are done away
with and the pre-modern social relationships are imposed in the modern
garb. This ideology treats Minorities as aliens and questions their
patriotism. In effect this ideology reduces them to second-class citizens.

Masterminding Hate

The intimidation of the minorities has reached worst proportions during
last two decades. BJP along with its associates have regularly demonized
the minorities. This lays the basis of the violence against them, which in
turn ghettoizes them. The ghastly expression of this came in the form of
Post Bari demolition riots, burning of Pastor Graham Stains and later the
Gujarat carnage. This is doing incalculable harm to Indian society and
Indian Nation. The bonding between communities which came up during
freedom struggle and got sustained in first three decades of republic, are
being torn apart and atmosphere of fear and mistrust is being forged due
to the Hindutva ideology of this organization.
To buttress its divisive impact on the society its Government has changed
the earlier textbooks in schools, especially in the discipline of History
and Social Sciences. During early eighties the attempt was to rationalize
history. BJP has totally reversed this process and has communalized
history. The impact of this amongst the growing children will be immense
and is fraught with serious disaster.

The rule of this party at the center is the one, which promotes the state
units to be aggressive against the weaker sections of society. Despite its
claims the communal divides are growing and this is leading to the
weakening of the Nation as a whole. The earlier direction, which Nation
had, seems to have been hijacked in an adverse direction.

After exploding the nuclear devise it has also changed the security scene
in the worst direction and relations with Pakistan have been mercurial,
ever changing depending on the political calculations. Its aspiration to
change the democratic constitution was manifested when it appointed a
constitution review commission. Fortunately due to popular pressure the
commission also could not come to any recommendations as desired by its

Its worst was displayed during the Gujarat riots. The local BJP unit led
by Narendra Modi played a very devious role in bringing about this tragedy
and in sustaining the same. The state responsibility in the rehabilitation
work during the riots and post riot relief was conspicuous by its absence.
Even the deliverance of justice to the riot victims is totally missing and
some of them have to out from Gujarat n order to seek the semblance of
justice. The Gujarat unit of BJP is duly backed up by the central BJP led
coalition in these acts of violation of democratic and constitutional
norms of our country. It also supported the efforts of its affiliate
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in spreading the hate against Christians in
particular in remote places the effect of which came in the form of
burning of Pastor Stains, attacks on Nuns and missionaries in remote
villages and also in getting the destitute Adivasasis in their
participation in the Gujarat violence as the foot soldiers of Hindutva
politics in launching assault on the minorities.

Econimic Policies:

Lately through advertisement blitzkrieg it has put forward the slogan of
India Shining and it is being attributed to the economic policies by the
BJP. The major economic initiatives in the present direction were
undertaken by the Rajiv Gandhi earlier and in more full form by Manmohan
Singh in Narasimha Rao regime. These polices aimed to remove all the state
controls on the economy, which were earlier, posed to build Indias
economic infrastructure as it came out from the colonial rule. To provide
the heavy industry and infrastructure the state through public sector had
to intervene. It was on this base that the private industrialist could
build up the industrial network. The educational policies laid during this
phase laid the foundation for the growth of Soft ware industry and Indias
ability to produce the software professionals in large number as the
leading Nation in the world.

BJP during that phase of Industrial progress was operating h\as Bharatiya
Janshang and was totally opposed to the public sector, when it was playing
major role in countrys development. It was a party, which also opposed all
the social welfare measures undertaken by the Govt. wile calling for the
development of Nuclear weapon as far back as in early fifties. During
later phase BJS mainly concentrated on the demonisation of minorities,
Muslims in particular.

In the present phase of Industrial development, its affiliate Swadeshi
Jagran Manch came up in big way to oppose the new industrial policies. In
a way it was a superficial effort to keep a section of its support base of
small industrialist in its flock. They were not serious about this is very
clear from their conduct during last six years of the BJP rule. During
this phase BJP not only undertook those policies, it pursued them with
utter recklessness, and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch kept total quiet
forgetting its earlier noises against the new industrial polices.

The two major hallmarks of BJPs implementation of economic policies were
to do away with social welfare measures, in the area of education and
health. Indias vast number of poor is dependent on these two state
sponsored measures, these being the only source of their access to health
and education. Since this is not a section from where BJP seeks its
electoral base it has been totally unconrned about this. And this serious
flaw in the policies of the state Government is increasing the misery of
poor to no end. The other major factor has been to pursue the policies in
a way in which the urban affluent benefit at the cost of urban poor and
the rural masses in general.

Its clams about economic achievments are from the world of make believe.
The economic indices of growth have been presented to show them in a
manner where they project themselves as the achievements. The real facts
show something else. The farmers have been in acute distress and number of
farmers committed suicides, frustrated by the policies of the govt. The
per acre yield has been declining. The cheap credit has not been extended
to the farmers. The manufacturing sector has been on the decline, but the
average annual growth of manufacturing has been substantially lower in the
five years of BJP rule than in the previous three-year period. The
average growth rate of manufacturing was 9.4% in 1995-98, and only 5.2% in
1998-2003. Growth fell sharply in almost all the leading 2-digit industry
groups. Much of this growth has been both jobless and energy less, as
cost-cutting measures and efficient practices in industry have been
largely responsible. However, increased corporate earnings are not being
translated into new investments. There is an almost total absence of
investment demand in the economy. It is also due to the fact that there
is much unused capacity, as much as 20%, in industry. (Fact Sheet on
Economic policies-Jairus Banaji, Arvind, 2004 )

The biggest victims of these lopsided economic polices have been the
Dalits (Ex untouchables) and Adivasis, indigenous people. The state sector
has to ensure that all sections of population are taken care of. Since
that is not happening, these two sections are being deprived of all the
social and economic opportunities. This frustration of these sections gets
channelised in the identity politics being promoted by BJP. It is
precisely these sections of population who are also being used as foot
soldiers for anti-minority violence. Gujarat is an example, where it is
precisely these two sections who were indoctrinated to act as handmaidens
of the politics of the hate, which stalked the streets killing thousands
of innocents and destroying the property worth millions. The economic
failure is on both the fronts, the decline in the real growth of
manufacturing and depriving the weaker sections of their dues.

No where to Future

With vast resources of Central Government BJP took up the, one the biggest
wastage of state resources for the promotion of its own self. A media
campaign India Shining was launched as a prelude to the elections. It is
estimated the over 700 crores of public money has been squandered on the
image build up exercise for the ruling party. The Election Commissioner
Mr. Krishnamurthy objected to this expenditure of state resources but he
was overruled on the legal grounds as the model code was yet to be
implemented. Apart from the economic waste it is most immoral act
undertaken by this political vehicle of RSS. It will create its own
economic implications and the scarce public resources have been wasted in
a very blatant way.

It is true that on economic front the core policies may not be different
between various political parties in the electoral fray. But the
implementation of the same also determines a lot. The BJP tilt towards
affluent sections is resulting the major imbalance in the social arena.
BJP is at core a Hindutva party. It aims to bring in a Hindu Rashtra. In
this coalition it was not in majority so it could not impose its agenda in
toto. Its bias towards the affluent is clear. It is just waiting for a
chance to come to power in majority when it can usher in Hindu Rashtra
(Hindu Nation) by bringing in all the retrograde steps. The sample of such
steps is visible in another of Indian states being ruled by BJP, Madhya
Pradesh. Here a Sanyasin (Celibate religious person) is the Chief Minster
and she has brought in all the clerical elements, sadhus and other such
creed in the social and political space. A cow worship based economy is
being introduced. Many a places have been declared as religious places,
meaning thereby that non-vegetarian food and alcohol will be totally
banned in these cities. Already apart from consumers of these, those
trading in these items have been turned into unemployed, on way to

Essentially BJP is not a party of modern era, the one, which can keep all
the economic and social progress in tune with times. More so it is very
biased and partial towards a narrow social groups.