OPED | Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Sending a clear message to divisive forces, the BJP must come out with a ‘nation first’ agenda of governance and fulfil the promises it has made to the masses
The curse of Hindus has always been disunity and betraying each other to the enemy. Today we see this trend again in the BJP where sometimes the highest party office-bearers can’t even say hello to each other. As far as one can remember, the BJP had three pillars: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr LK Advani and Mr Murli Manohar Joshi.
Mr Vajpayee is no longer able to lead an active life due to health concerns and thus Mr Advani and Mr Joshi, who was president of the BJP in the early-1990s and had hoisted the Indian Tricolour in Srinagar at a time when no other leader gave a damn about Jammu & Kashmir, are two pillars of the party today. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has risen to the stature of a national-level leader, not only because he is an ironman but also because he has made his State a model of economic efficiency.
The BJP should make it known that it will really build the Ram Mandir, protect temples, stop Christian conversions, honour India’s gurus and impose some guidelines on media, which have a pre-conceived notion about Pope and Islam but always see Hindu godmen and sadhvis through the eyes of ‘secularism’.
On the external affairs side, the BJP should reaffirm its commitment to keep Arunachal Pradesh, stand-up to China’s bullying, and support Tibet to counteract Beijing, which is propping up Maoist Nepal and covertly using Burma as a military base.
The party should also make it clear that it will keep Jammu & Kashmir with India, hang terrorists (and not translate 11,000 indictment pages into Urdu for terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab), punish Pakistan by launching surgical strikes next time it attacks India through a proxy war and keep the United States at bay as long as America supports and provides arms and ammunition to Pakistan.
But you would say: What about the NDA? The BJP should not bother about its allies who are anyway jumping the ship as they think the Congress will win the election. If Mr Advani stands true to the aspirations of Hindu voters, the BJP can come to power on its own at the Centre and thus be able to implement the changes which India so urgently needs: Adopt a Uniform Civil Code, repeal Article 370, reform the judiciary, and switch over to a Parliamentary system of governance.
The BJP should reiterate that it considers all Indians equal and that it is always attentive to the demands of the Muslim community.
Unfortunately, the media always feels closer to the Congress and flaunts this proximity blatantly. It is gleeful every time the BJP is in trouble. For instance, the media and the Congress have been much more severe with Mr Varun Gandhi than Kasab (the former didn’t say anything provocative while the latter went on a shooting spree).
As for the West’s opinion, French Ambassador Jérome Bonnafont, an otherwise courteous diplomat, summed it up very well when he said: “The RSS and the BJP are dangerous fascists and Muslims in India are persecuted, not having the same opportunities as Hindus.” He also genuinely feels that the burning of Hindus in the Sabarmati Express never happened, but that “the anti-Muslims riots in Gujarat were a crime against humanity”.
As Indians worship their country as the ‘mother’, the BJP should reintroduce the notion of ‘Mother India’ in its election manifesto. If US President Barack Obama can be sworn in on the Bible, then all future Indian Prime Ministers can take the oath of office on the Bhagavad Gita. Those who are Christians can use the Bible and the Muslims the Quran. That should satisfy everybody.
— The writer is a senior French journalist who lives in India.