THE political resolution adopted at the extended national executive meeting of the BJP in New Delhi and the speeches of President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, failed to inject any enthusiasm among the party’s ranks and its supporters. In fact, the overriding impression is that the session ignored the serious problems faced by the economy and was notable for the absence of any introspection about the many shortcomings afflicting the governance of the country.
The extended meeting attended by two thousand leaders and legislators from all over the country was also a display of the dominance of Narendra Modi in the affairs of the party and the government with Amit Shah playing the role of a trusted lieutenant in the party. The political resolution has mentioned the prime minister by name 21 times and reads like a report of the government’s initiatives.
Flying against the face of all facts, the resolution hails demonetisation as one major decision that “broke the backbone of the black market as well as the black money hoarders”. There is no word about how 99 per cent of the demonetised notes have found their way into the banking system.
As far as the GST is concerned, the resolution claims it has increased the ease of doing business by resolving the problems faced by the trader community. This is making a mockery of the travails of the small businesses and traders who are unable to deal with the intricacies of registering online for filing their returns and squeezing out informal sector enterprises.
There is no explanation whatsoever as to why there is an economic slowdown with industrial production declining, exports stagnating, reduction of existing employment in the organised sector and no new jobs being created.
Keeping to its self-congratulatory tone, the resolution has made the astounding claim regarding the government’s handling of Jammu and Kashmir that “it has achieved a remarkable balancing act between showing no mercy to terrorists while displaying a marked degree of sensitivity towards the common people of the state who are being used by the terrorist forces”. This again is a gratuitous insult to the common people of the Kashmir valley. The “sensitivity” shown towards them is the use of pellet guns which have maimed and blinded so many young people. Such “sensitivity” was also seen in the way Farooq Ahmad Dar was used as a human shield by a unit of the army. Unwittingly the statement has exposed the fact that the BJP thinks that the common people of the state are being used by the terrorist forces – a thinking which does not make any distinction between the ordinary people and the extremists.
The congratulations extended to the government for its efforts for the upliftment of women and “enabling them to live a life of dignity” came at an inopportune time when the video of the girl students of Banaras Hindu University being lathi-charged by the police was being widely circulated.
On India’s external relations, there is an anodyne reference to how help is being extended to neighbouring countries – to Nepal after the earthquake, to Bangladesh after the floods and to Maldives during the water crisis. The big elephant in the room is not mentioned which is the growing strategic embrace of the United States.
The resolution maintains a studied silence about the violent activities of the gau rakshaks and the lynch mobs. Instead it talks about the violence against BJP karyakartas in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. Both the resolution and Amit Shah’s speech dwelt upon the BJP workers killed in Kerala and Amit Shah’s plan to conduct a padayatra for 14 days in Kerala. Both in Kerala and Tripura, the BJP and the RSS have embarked upon a path of confrontation and violence to target the Left-led governments there.
The prime minister in his valedictory address spoke eloquently about the uncompromising fight against corruption. But he was remarkably silent about why the Lok Pal as an institution has not been set up even though more than three years have elapsed since he took office.
In the style which has become his trade mark, Modi announced yet another new scheme – Saubhagya – to provide power connections to four crore households with no electricity by December 2018.
The Pradhan Mantri Sehaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna (Saubhagya) is just a repackaged version of the UPA government’s Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana. This scheme had been subsumed under the Deen Dayal Upadhaya Grameen Jyoti Yojana, which had the same aim to provide free connections to BPL households. The BPL households are to get electricity connections free while those above the poverty line will have to pay Rs 500 in ten instalments. With the poor households having to pay the monthly bills for electricity, it remains to be seen how far this scheme will ensure total electrification for the rural areas.
The extended meeting of the BJP national executive was just an exercise to showcase the Modi government’s claims in view of the forthcoming assembly elections in six states due within the next twelve months.
(September 27, 2017)