“What exactly is ‘Hindu nationalist’ about the BJP?” asks T V R Shenoy in an excellent piece in rediff.com news.
The English media, both Indian and foreign, delights in describing the BJP as a ‘right-wing, Hindu nationalist party.’ But when you come right down to it, what exactly is either specifically ‘right-wing’ or ‘Hindu nationalist’ about the BJP?
Shenoy rightly notes that there is nothing that distinguishes the BJP in terms of policies and positions from the Congress.
You could lay the economic policies of the Congress and the BJP side by side, and 999 out of 1,000 would struggle to say which is which. A truly right-wing, meaning fiscally conservative, party might have considered opposing schemes like loan waivers or employment guarantee programmes. Did you ever hear the BJP oppose a populist scheme?
No ‘right-wing’ party would ever countenance a Stalinist horror called a Planning Commission (foisted on India because Jawaharlal Nehru swallowed Soviet propaganda). Did the BJP ever discuss burying it for good?
Again, how much did the BJP do to dismantle the ‘licence-permit-quota Raj’ when it was in power? I am not talking about the things that irk big business, just the strangling web of forms in triplicate that plagues the ordinary citizen. The answer is that the BJP did only as much, or as little, as the Congress itself — or so goes the popular perception.
He concludes, “All you have these days are, to be frank, rather mushy imitations of the Congress. And in that case, the voters apparently feel, one may as well just opt for the original.”
My support for the BJP arises only due to my opposition to the Congress, not because I am a huge supporter of any particular policy that it has. My opposition to the Congress is because it has presided over the underdevelopment of India over the last half century. Worse, it has as its leaders people who I consider to be incompetent to formulate the type of policies that India sorely needs to get out of the cycle of poverty that Nehruvian socialism has condemned it to.
I wish that the BJP had been different. But alas it just ended up following the same old rut that the Congress carved out. As the saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you are likely to fall for anything. That’s the lesson that the BJP needs to learn most of all. It is not too late even now.