The 2004 Lok Sabha elections is no ordinary election. It is not just an election between one party and another. It is a clash of sharply competing values of diametrically opposite ideologies.
BJP: The Congress era in Indian politics is over. The era of the BJP has begun. India has now embarked on a path of rapid progress and all round development.
India is more ambitious, more self-reliant and more capable now than ever before. While the former is an excerpt from the Italy born, Sonia Gandhi-led Congress manifesto, the other is BJP’s ‘Vision-2004′. Indeed, as Congress says, the forthcoming election is a clash of diametrically opposite ideologies. It is the clash between BJP’sideologies of cultural nationalism against Congress ideology of dynasty above nation.
To begin with, the Congress’ 32-page manifesto has Smt Gandhi on its cover. The Congress has every right to have whosoever on its cover and one cannot dispute that. Question, however, remains, what exactly is the message the party tries to deliver from its glittering cover? Sonia Gandhi, as Sonia Gandhi herself says, ?is not a contender for Prime Ministerial post.? Why then is Sonia Gandhi on the cover of the Congress manifesto?
A question perhaps will remain unanswered. In the manifesto, the Congress has charged RSS with not participating in the freedom struggle. History has never been the forte of Congress being led by a leader of foreign origin. To put Congress? history in the right perspective, one has to go back to the 1920s, when the RSS founder, Keshav Baliram Hegdewar, dedicated his life to serve the motherland. ?Bapuji Kavre, a revolutionary in Maharashtra, was a friend of Hedgewar. He was deeply involved in the revolutionary activities in the Central Provinces since 1908. Hedgewar joined him wholeheartedly. He met several prominent persons in Nagpur for the purpose, delivered speeches, deploring the slavery thrust upon the country. He also collected money secretly and with it, he purchased pistols, bullets and gunpowder, for distribution among the young revolutio-naries?? This is just a glimpse of history of which the Congress apparently is ignorant.
There was a town called Kamathi near Nagpur. An army establishment was camping there. Hedgewar developed contacts with army personnel. One day, a few of the revolutionaries donned the military uniform and went to the railway station and in broad daylight, they unloaded boxes of ammunition, meant for British Army from the railway wagon and vanished with the booty.? This is something Congress historians perhaps have no clue of. This, however, is not an attempt to undermine Congress? role in the freedom movement. BJP’s?Vision Document? also acknowledges the Congress contribution.
The Congress has allowed itself to be reduced from a great party of the freedom movement to a tool in the hands of a family; it has sought to reduce the world’slargest democracy to dynastic rule.? Nobody can undermine Congress? contributions led by Mahatma Gandhi. Indeed, as the Congress manifesto says, ?A party built by the Father of the Nation.? No dispute at that. Fast forward to 21st century. A question that was asked by the RSS spokesperson, Ram Madhav, needs to be answered by the Congress: ?What is the relation between Mahatma Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi?? The articulate Congress spokesman, Kapil Sibal needs to answer that. Congress manifesto once again charges BJP with spreading communalism by misusing religion. Rewind to Rajiv era. The Shah Bano case remains a glaring example of Congress? total surrender to Muslim fundamentalists. Scared that this particular step would annoy its Hindu vote-bank, Rajiv Gandhi, opened the locks and performed shilannyas at the Ramjanma-bhoomi in Ayodhya. And the Congress manifesto describes the forthcoming elections as the ?real battleground for secularism?. Congress accused Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of indulging in doublespeak over Ayodhya, Gujarat, relations with Pakistan and negotiations with different groups in Jammu and Kashmir. Smt Gandhi has never ever given her views on Ayodhya, has toed the soft Hindutva line in Gujarat, read out written speeches on Indo-Pak relations and perhaps it took her years to get acquainted with Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP’s?Vision Document? is crystal clear on all the ideological issues. ?Ayodhya has to be resolved through negotiations.? It has appealed to Hindus and Muslims to set up the process of dialogue and hopes that these ?efforts will succeed in heralding a new chapter of amity in Hindu-Muslim relations and fortify national integration.? If Congress under Rajiv Gandhi succumbed to Muslim fundamen-talists and remained soft towards Christians for personal reasons, BJP stuck to its ideology of ?religious freedom? and ?ban on religious conversion through fraudulent and coercive means?. As for links with RSS, the Prime Minister often proudly proclaimed himself as a Swayamsevak. As for Indo-Pak relations, it needed an Atal Behari Vajpayee to beat Pakistan in Pakistan through peaceful means and that too after 15 long years. Corruption is another area the Congress manifesto stresses on. Turn the pages of history. What happened to Nagarwalla murder case? Nagarwalla, who impersonated Indira Gandhi’svoice and allegedly obtained a huge sum of money from the State Bank of India’sParliament branch, was mysteriously killed in 1971. Three years later, Union Railway Minister, L.N. Mishra was bombed while addressing a public meeting at Samastipur railway station. His alleged assassins were caught, but there remained a strong suggestion that the murder conspiracy went higher up in political authority. On the gruesome side were ?Tandoor murder case?, ?Jesicca Lal murder case?. That much for spilling blood. From Jharkhand Mukti Morcha scam to Telgi scam, Congress has travelled a long way. And one wonders whether the last word has yet been said on Bofors. The 1984 Sikh riots still haunt the nation. Congress attacks BJP’scultural nationalism as a ?device to divide the nation?. Bereft of any kind of nationalism, be it Indian or Italian, the Congress should read the BJP’sdescription of cultural nationalism. ?We believe that cultural nationalism for Indianness, Bharatiyata and Hindutva are synonymous-is the basis of our national identity.? Or else Congress should read the Supreme Court verdict, which decreed, ?Hindutva is not a religious or exclusivist concept. It is inclusive, integrative and abhors any kind of discrimination against any section of the people in India on the basis of their faith?? The Congress manifesto is full of promises, which range from youth employment to rural development. Incidentally, the Party does not explain the steps it needs to take to implement its promises.
The Congress promises ‘transparency’ in foreign direct investment. Has one ever heard of a FDI taking place under cover? One perhaps needs a Congress rule for that! Selective disinvestments of PSUs, Congress says. Will Shri Sibal please explain the modus operandi of ‘selective disinvestments’? The party envisions the ‘second Green Revolution’, as the ‘first Green Revolution’ enabled India to achieve self-sufficiency in food, yet it failed to address many critical problems in agriculture and food economy. The BJP believes that ‘a second Green Revolution’ is needed to increase farm productivity, achieve crop diversification, reduce waste and add value at every stage in the food chain, linking the kisan to the consumer.