People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 14

April 12, 2009



BJP Manifesto: Rehashed Communal Agenda

AFTER a gap of eleven years, the BJP has issued its own manifesto for the 15th Lok Sabha elections. During these years, the BJP put forward the programme of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) seeking to mask its real intentions. This recourse was taken to try and overcome the fundamental contradiction that continues to plague the NDA and the BJP. On the one hand, the BJP, acting as the political arm of the RSS, seeks to enlist public support on the basis of its hardcore communal agenda. On the other hand, the more it seeks to do so, it distances its allies, thereby weakening the NDA. This, in turn, puts it away at a farther distance from coming to government at the centre.

On this occasion, however, the BJP seems to have adopted a diabolic course. The RSS had publicly declared that it would extend support only to that political party which promises to build the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. Additionally, the BJP itself has been assessing that without sharpening communal polarisation and consolidating its so-called “Hindu vote bank”, there is no possibility of its controlling the reins of the government at the centre. The sharpening of communal polarisation undertaken in those states where it is in government was chillingly visible in the `(im)moral policing' and vandalism of the Sri Ram Sene in Karnataka. More recently, the BJP's explicit support and endorsement of the hate speeches given by its candidate in Philibit, Uttar Pradesh, exposed its real intentions of sharpening communal polarisation as its prime vote catcher.

The BJP manifesto for 2009 released on `Ram Navami' reflects this ideological thrust. The manifesto begins with a chapter titled “Recall India's past”. It ends with the chapter titled “Preserving our cultural heritage”. In the ‘Executive Summary and Highlights’ released to the media on this occasion there is a section titled “Defending the civilisation”. This brings back to the centre-stage the hardcore communal agenda of constructing “a grand Ram mandir” at the disputed site in Ayodhya. It threatens “not (to) allow anybody to touch the revered Ram Setu”. It asserts to pursue relentlessly cow protection as this “is an article of faith with the BJP”. It seeks to abolish Article 370 and any special status given to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It seeks the imposition of a uniform civil code.

The beginning and the end of the manifesto are nothing but an elaboration of the RSS conception that India has always been and will continue to remain an exclusive Hindu nation. Needless to add, this openly repudiates the very foundations of the secular democratic character of modern India. All the remaining chapters sandwiched in between are a mere formal reiteration of many long standing demands that may well find mention in the manifestos of many other political parties.

Many of such promises are issues that the BJP-led NDA could well have implemented when they were in government for six years. They now talk about waiving agricultural loans when they refused to even consider such a demand, when leading the NDA government, raised by the Left when the agrarian crisis became acute under their rule with negative rates of growth leading to distress suicides by the farmers. Today they talk of introducing a farm income insurance scheme when they blatantly refused all demands for crop insurance when they were in government. Arguing all along for labour reforms including the right for the employer to hire and fire employees today they talk of providing safety net for unorganised workers; upward revision of the minimum wages; and the strict implementation of the Wages Act. Likewise, in all sections, they routinely reiterate demands that could well have been implemented by them like `one rank one pension' for ex-servicemen. Hypocritically, they promise to implement women's reservation despite having deliberately stalled it during the six years that they were in power.

Though some of their leaders pay lip service to the fact that terror knows no religion, caste or region, the BJP manifesto's entire section on terrorism smacks of their communal approach of equating terror with a single community. Not surprisingly, there is no reference to the growing evidence of terrorist attacks by Hindutva outfits. Apart from promising to restore the POTA in a more draconian form, there is absolutely nothing else of any merit in the manifesto that has not been said earlier by everybody else.

Displaying its deep commitment to the neo-liberal construct of economic reforms, the BJP manifesto has very little to offer on how India should protect itself from the current global economic recession which is bound to intensify in the days to come. The manifesto is completely bereft of any path-breaking approaches to protect the Indian people from the disastrous impact of the global recession.

Thus, shorn of all rhetoric and inanities, the BJP manifesto is a rehashed expression of its hardcore communal agenda reconfirming, if ever any reconfirmation was required, that the BJP is the political arm of the RSS.

At the same time, one need not be surprised that in its efforts to control the reins of State power through the government at the centre, the BJP may well issue a programme on behalf of the NDA where this hardcore communal agenda would not find place. Thus, it shall, once again “hunt with the hounds and run with the hares”. It seeks to consolidate the so-called `Hindu vote bank' with its manifesto and appease its allies, in complete contradiction with its own agenda, with a sterilised NDA agenda. The people of India are largely accustomed to such hoodwinking and will not fall prey to it once again.