November 14, 2021

BJP National Executive: Sycophantic Display

THE national executive meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party was held on November 7.  As it was being held after a gap of two years, there was interest to know how the ruling party at the centre assessed the political developments and the work done during the Covid-affected period. 

But if there were any persons who expected an objective review of the government’s work in this period and the policies adopted, they would have been sorely disappointed.  The address of the president, the political resolution and Modi’s valedictory speech – all taken together show not an iota of a self-critical appraisal. 

The political resolution is a litany of praise for Prime Minister Modi’s policies and achievements in all fields – in tackling Covid, providing health care, employment, provision of free foodgrains and so on.  Every para of the resolution has a laudatory reference to Modi for his policy initiatives. All in all, it was a sycophantic exercise.

What this brings out is the cult of the supreme leader and Modi’s domination over the party was on full display.  The good work done by the Modi government in tackling Covid is cited – providing Rs 35,000 crore for vaccinations, free foodgrains to eighty crore poor for eight months and the health insurance scheme.  The hundred crore doses of vaccination is celebrated without mentioning that only 30 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated. And, that at the current rate of vaccination, the government’s target of full vaccination of adults by 2021 is a far cry. 

There is not a word of sympathy for the lakhs of people who died, not a word about the bungling in procuring vaccine stocks and the appalling lack of health care facilities and oxygen for those who were seriously ill due to Covid. 

There are no worthwhile economic problems to be tackled.  There is no mention whatsoever of the prolonged farmers’ struggle; instead, all the pro-farmer measures taken by the government are listed out.  As for employment, due to government’s promotion of digitalisation and start-ups, “youth are becoming employment givers, rather than employment seekers”. 

According to the BJP, in Jammu & Kashmir, after abrogation of Article 370, a new chapter of security, peace and development has been ushered in.  That there was the peace of the graveyard with thousands incarcerated, internet suspended and a clampdown on movement is not mentioned.

The self-congratulatory tone is carried to absurd lengths; Modi has shown the way to the world on how to tackle climate change; in foreign policy under Modi, India is striving to become a big power in the world, not just a balancing power. 

The callous attitude to people’s sufferings and the deliberate overlooking of all the shortcomings of the government in the last two years indicates only one thing – the BJP is not overly concerned about the issues of unemployment, agrarian distress, price rise and the economic hardships of the people affecting its poll prospects in the coming assembly elections in the five states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur – of which in four the BJP has state governments. 

The stance adopted in the resolution indicates that the BJP is banking upon its tried and tested formula – of creating communal polarisation and stoking “Hindu” nationalism as the main vehicle for mobilising votes.  This, of course, would be supplemented by huge money power and caste-social engineering in places like Uttar Pradesh.  The fact that Yogi Adityanath moved the political resolution in the meeting was a clear pointer to what will be the main thrust in the UP election.  Adityanath has already indulged in rank communal rhetoric such as `Abba Jaan’ being favoured for getting rations during the previous regime and the exodus of Hindu families from Kairana – an issue that was raised in 2017 also.

However, if the recent by-election results to three Lok Sabha and 29 Assembly elections are considered, though the BJP resolution has claimed “a big victory”, there is cause for concern.  It should set the BJP leadership thinking whether it can rely solely on the success of its formula of communal-caste consolidation.  With the exception of Assam and to certain extent Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has reasons to worry about its performance in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Contrary to the smug complacency displayed in the national executive, the stirrings of popular discontent have manifested in the by-polls. 

(November 10, 2021)