BJP’s New Political Strategy

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Ayodhya-issue has apparently ceased to have much political relevance for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). At its two-day national executive meeting in Guwahati (Assam), the BJP adopted a political resolution making corruption as its main theme to target the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).  Observing that the “credibility of the government was zero,” the resolution blames the Congress as “responsible for showcasing India as a poorly managed, carelessly governed” and “utterly corrupt nation.” 

The BJP blames Congress for “refusing to be accountable to the people of India for rampant corruption,” three of which- the Commonwealth Games, the 2G Spectrum and Adarsh  Society – “have caused huge loss to the exchequer.” Besides, the resolution states: “Existing checks and balances in the system have been methodically removed in a manner which facilitated the scale and magnitude of the corruption.”

Holding the Congress-led government responsible for “a weakening of institutions,” the BJP also accuses the government of aiding and abetting “communalism and separatism to divert public attention from issue of corruption in high places to that of communalism in low places.”

Claiming that BJP is “born out of a struggle,” the resolution states: “Together, we should extricate this glorious nation from the Congress culture of corruption, greed and loot. Ill- gotten wealth should be brought back from all tax havens wherever in the world. Political will and national interest is required for this unenviable task.”

Clearly, the BJP’s resolution is reflective of the agenda, the party has set before itself to gain support of its “secular” allies and voters with an aim to gain a political lead against the Congress. Interestingly, Hindutva- the communal card, which was played upon by BJP, around two decades ago, was hardly referred to by the party leaders at their meeting. This apparently suggests that they have finally accepted that communal propaganda is not likely to help BJP politically. The recent verdict in Bihar assembly elections, where BJP’s ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has returned to power, has probably made the BJP acutely conscious of this political reality. The JD-U leader, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, was extremely firm on campaigning along secular lines and not allowing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to campaign in Bihar. Allowing Modi to campaign in Bihar carried the risk of tarnishing Kumar’s secular image in his home state, losing Muslim votes and perhaps also not securing a stunning victory as he did. The BJP is now keen on political tide turning in its favour in other states as well as at the national level just as it has in Bihar. From this angle, the party has no option but to try a political strategy which may have electoral appeal for the common Indian.

Spelling out the party’s stand against Congress, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley told media in Delhi, with “massive corruption charges” against it, the “Congress has no place to hide their face.” Blaming the party for having “no solution” in states where insurgency is on the rise, Jaitley said: “They have little idea on how to deal with various problems plaguing the country.” Jaitley is Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament).

The NDA (National Democratic Alliance), according to Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha (Lower House), Sushma Swaraj is going to hold a massive “Jan Jagaran” (Awakening People) campaign to educate the people about UPA’s “misdeeds” and to “root out corruption.” It may be noted, the BJP is not planning these campaigns only on its political base but together with its allies. Also, Hindutva-issue does not figure in these campaigns. Countering UPA government’s charge on BJP stalling proceedings and not allowing the Parliament to function, Swaraj said: “It is better not to allow proceedings than allowing the session to continue because time and again our demand for a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) probe into corruption has been rejected.”

Undeniably, BJP appears to be in a politically aggressive mood, bent on targeting the Congress-led UPA, with support of its NDA allies. Their aim is “to put pressure on Sonia Gandhi for the Bofors issue and the 2G Spectrum scam on the Prime Minister,” a senior BJP leader said.

Reacting strongly against the BJP resolution, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said: “BJP’s resolution is a bundle of lies. It smacks of frustration and the only right place for it is political dustbin.”

Criticizing BJP for “personalizing politics” by dragging in charges against Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said: “Does BJP want an investigation into allegations levelled against its leaders from time to time by the very persons who were at some point of time close to them. No body knows who will stand where if fingers are raised on the top leadership of any party by linking distant relations.”

There is also a view that with some saffron brigade extremists having been charged for several terrorist-attacks, including Samjhauta Express, India-Pakistan peace train, bombing (2007), Malegaon blasts (2008) and Ajmer Dargah Sharif explosion (2007), BJP is trying to best to distance itself from these. Thus, rather than make noise over terrorism and/or its communal agenda, the BJP hopes to make some political headway by targeting the Congress and its leaders over corruption charges!


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