BJP Distorting Hinduism: Says Political Analyst

A prominent Indian economist and public policy analyst, due to address an economic meet in Dubai tonight, has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using India’s long-standing “confrontation” with Pakistan to polarize the society on communal lines for its electoral success.

Jairam Ramesh said: “They did this successfully in the Western Indian state of Gujarat and are doing in the rest of the country keeping in mind the general elections in four states – Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya which are going to the polls next month. This holds dangerous portents as 82 per cent of Indians are Hindus.”

The influential socio-politico commentator said BJP, which heads the coalition federal government, has been upbeat after its record victory in Gujarat and has oiled its propaganda machine for the next month’s elections and also for the polls slated to be held in November for another five states – Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Mizoram.

Mr. Ramesh said the Chief Ministers of the Congress-ruled states have been rated as the best for their style of governance and inward inflow of investments into the states when compared with those states headed by BJP governments.

The Congress is at present in power in Nagaland, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. He said the biggest challenge to the Congress which ruled India for over three-fourth period since the Independence in 1947, was to retain its hold in these states while improving its tally in other states where it sits in opposition. The Congress, he said, would continue to fight the elections on the issues of governance and development while countering the hated being whipped up against the Muslims by the Hindutva lobby.

Mr. Ramesh remarked: “We celebrate Hinduism which respects all religions and allows peaceful coexistence of people of all beliefs, but denounce Hindutva that BJP and its like-minded parties follow. BJP accuses Congress of Pseudosecularism, but time and again it has been proved that BJP is pursuing pseudo-Hinduism.

“BJP is distorting and destroying Hinduism. Secularism is really a big challenge for the future of Hinduism.” By making Pakistan its domestic election issue and reaping good results thereof in the just-concluded elections in Gujarat, he said the BJP has succeeded in making secular Hindus Anti-Pakistan and indirectly Anti-Muslims. “Within the BJP, the mood is to replicate the (Gujarat’s controversial Chief Minister Narendra) Modi strategy across the country. Younger elements in that party wants to do elsewhere what Modi did in Gujarat,” remarked Mr. Ramesh who is Secretary of the Economic Affairs Department of the main opposition Congress party.

He said Gujarat would be another China if Mr. Modi abandons the politics of hatred and pursues reforms in the state that has a pro-business culture, inward inflow of investments, large industrial base and entrepreneurs. He, however, opined that a “Hindu Identity” has emerged in India as a result of the Hindutva propaganda over the years. He said the days of personal charisma playing a decisive role in changing the fortunes of political parties have long been over with socio-political coalitions at grass-root levels finding firm roots in the country’s political landscape.

Mr Ramesh, who is also the Deputy Chairman of the Karnataka State Planning Board, Economic Adviser to the Government of Chattisgarh and Member of the Economic Development Council of Rajasthan, has a word of praise for Congress President Sonia Gandhi in handling party matters and the chief ministers in the Congress-ruled states. Her approach and style, He said, was reminiscent of the days of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who maintained good equations with the regional chiefs of his party. He said India was becoming increasingly decentralized with states becoming politically decentralized and economically more powerful. Mr. Ramesh cited the role played by Andhra pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Mr. Ramesh had been asked to serve on the Economic Advisory Council set up by the government t in Andhra Pradesh.

By M.A Mannom
Khaleej Times, Dubia
January 12, 2003.