Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
After playing the religion card in politics for over a decade, radical Hinduist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be feeling the necessity of getting itself from the dirt of being branded as an extremist pro-Hindutva force. Although it is well perceived by everyone – BJP is a brainchild of Rashtriya Sawamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the platform of ultra-nationalist and radical Hindus. In the past, RSS had hands behind numerous religious riots in India, while the RSS-BJP nexus has been greatly responsible for tarnishing the secularist image of the largest democracy in the world.
Eyeing on the 2019-Lok Sabha (General Assembly) elections, ruling BJP has started cleaning its decade-old image of a radical Hinduist party. As part of this program, regional government in the India’s northeastern state of Tripura has recently decided to remove contents from the school and college textbooks, where the ruling party is narrated as ‘radical Hindu’ party. However, some of the analyst say, such terminology was on purpose inserted into the textbooks by the previous Communist government, with the ulterior agenda of defaming BJP’s image.
A closer look into BJP:
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is one of the two major political parties in India, along with the Indian National Congress. English meaning of BJP is Indian People’s Party.
As of 2018, it is the country’s largest political party in terms of representation in the national parliament and state assemblies, and it is the world’s largest party in terms of primary membership. BJP is a right-wing party, and its policy has historically reflected Hindu-nationalist positions. It has close ideological and organizational links to the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS). Some of the analysts also see RSS as the spiritual guiding force of BJP and in many ways, actions of Bharatiya Janata Party is greatly decided and dictated by RSS.
BJP’s origin lies in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (Indian People’s Force), formed in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mukherjee. After the State of Emergency in 1977, Jana Sangh merged with several other parties to form the Janata Party; it defeated the incumbent Indian National Congress party in the 1977 general election. After three years in power, the Janata Party dissolved in 1980 with the members of the erstwhile Jana Sangh reconvening to form the BJP.
Although initially unsuccessful, winning only two seats in the 1984 general election, it grew in strength on the back of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Following victories in several state elections and better performances in national elections, the BJP became the largest party in the parliament in 1996; however, it lacked a majority in the lower house of Parliament, and its government lasted only for 13 days.
After the 1998 general election, the BJP-led coalition known as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed a government that lasted for a year. Following fresh elections, the NDA government, again headed by Vajpayee, lasted for a full term in office; this was the first non-Congress government to do so. In the 2004 general election, the NDA suffered an unexpected defeat, and for the next ten years the BJP was the principal opposition party. Long time Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi led it to a landslide victory in the 2014 general election. Since that election, Modi has led the NDA government as Prime Minister and as of December 2018, the alliance governs 16 states.
The official ideology of the BJP is “integral humanism”, first formulated by Deendayal Upadhyaya in 1965. The party expresses a commitment to Hindutva (radical Hinduism), and its policy has historically reflected Hindu nationalist positions. It advocates social conservatism and a foreign policy centered on nationalist principles. Its key issues have included the abrogation of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, building of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya and implementation of a uniform civil code. However, the 1998–2004 NDA government did not pursue any of these controversial issues. It instead focused on a largely liberal economic policy prioritizing globalization and economic growth over social welfare.
From this brief background, what we can understand is – Bharatiya Janata Party from being a minor political force in 1984 succeeded in emerging into a major force just within the span of 12 years by playing the religion card or more precisely – radical Hinduism. Let us not forget, BJP today has become the largest political party in the world in terms of representation in the national parliament and state assemblies in India, simply by getting sympathy and support from the Hindus. India is a country with almost 90 percent of Hindus in its population of over 1.34 billion. Quite naturally, in India, Hindu vote is the major factor and knowing this, BJP and even its arch rival Indian National Congress (INC) already have adopted the policy of ignoring minority vote bank.
Ever since BJP came to power through a landslide victory, it has been actively imposed ban on cow slaughter throughout the country. Even in 2014, BJP leader and Home Minister Rajnath Singh had clearly tried to exert influence over Bangladesh in forcing the Muslims from slaughter and consumption of cows. Anyway this initiative of the Indian government has already worked as blessings to Bangladesh as the country has witness a tremendous growth in its domestic dairy industry thus attaining self-sufficiency. Earlier, almost 70 percent of cows had to be brought into Bangladesh from India, mostly through illegal channels.
Unknown number of Muslims in India has already been murdered by radical Hindus for the “crime” of consuming beef.
Notoriety named ‘Ghar Wapsi’:
Almost immediately after BJP came into power, its parent organization RSS had began the notoriety of forceful conversion of non-Hindus, mostly Christians and Muslims into Hinduism, under a program called ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (Return to Home). This particular project of RSS was never interrupted or stopped by the government. Instead, there had either been indirect patronization from the BJP bigwigs, or flat denial of any such programs implemented by RSS and or those radical Hindu supporters of RSS-BJP nexus.
Anatomy of Narendra Modi’s tenure:
In 2014, Narendra Modi and his party received numerous forms of support from a number of large corporate houses such as Adani Group, which had helped greatly helped in the landslide victory. For this reason, although Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government had always pronounced of combating corruption, it had to in reality compromise a lot because of its ‘gratitude’ to those corporate houses and as a result, the entire intention of combating corruption actually had fallen flat.
Narendra Modi has already made tremendous efforts in attracting foreign investments, which once again could not see much success. While Bangladesh, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has successfully emerged into one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the pace of India’s economic progress is not very much encouraging.
Failed diplomacy of BJP government:
During past five years, mostly because of Bharatiya Janata Party’s bankrupt foreign policy, India already has lost Nepal, a Hindu nation, which had always been its key ally in South Asia. Nepalese government is now implementing pro-China policy and had already made learning Mandarin language compulsory in its schools. Within next 5-10 years, Nepal will witness huge investments from China, thus finally connecting this Himalayan nation possibly into another ‘Hong Kong’ in near future.
Moreover, anti-India separatist groups such as United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) would conveniently build its hidden bases within the mountainous areas in Nepal. It should be mentioned here that, international terror outfits like Al Qaeda has been using Nepalese land for its training camps since past 16-17 years.
Modi government also has greatly deprived Bangladesh in multiple ways. For past five years, it has mostly given false promises to a country, which has greatly contributed in resolving India’s security threats within the northeastern states. But, Narendra Modi did not even bother in at least giving Bangladesh the due share of water from the common rivers. In this particular case, Modi and Mamata had jointly played the game of deception with Bangladesh.
Realizing such cruel selfishness of Narendra Modi’s India, Bangladesh has already shifted its foreign policy and currently it has started deepening relations with China in multiple ways. Bangladesh already has joined in program, which will connect Bangladesh with China, Asian nations, Europe and beyond, both through land and sea routes within next few years. This particular shift in Dhaka’s foreign policy clearly is the result of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lack of intellect in understanding the consequence of playing foul with a friendly neighbor.
Considering the above facts, the most vital question of the time is – whether Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party can finally succeed in winning a straight second consecutive term during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Although BJP leadership are nervously optimistic, there is actually a strong possibility of Indian National Congress returning to power possibly by winning a formidable majority. In that case, for the first time in the history of democracy in India, neither RSS nor BJP would feel inclined in accepting such unfavorable election result. They may not go for political chaos, but of course they will turn the situation chaotic by resuming the old game of Hindutva and religious extremism.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter: @salah_shoaib.