Among the two major coalition formations, the BJP has the distinct advantage of having an confident prime ministerial candidate; political parties that may join the NDA in the post-election period will have no interest in re-opening this issue. The Congress, by contrast, has already hinted that Dr. Manmohan Singh will be shoved aside for Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi should the party'selectoral performance permit this denouement.
Despite this significant advantage, there are doubts about the BJP-NDA electoral prospects in the forthcoming general elections because of a failure to project a clear and unambiguous vision of the future.
Mumbai'sthree-day nightmare, the reverberations of which are still with us, highlight that Partition was no solution; indeed, the civilisational threat it represents is more alive today. Partition was never intended to solve India'sso-called communal problem; it had a geo-strategic objective of providing Britain (and then America ) a military base in the region, to overlook Russia, China, Central Asia and the Gulf simultaneously.
With this region becoming crucial again for drugs (Afghanistan), oil (Iran, Middle East, Central Asia), the mineral wealth of Tibet, and to contain the rising power of Russia, China, and India, the West is active in Pakistan once again. Both Russia and China are alive to the challenge posed to them, but India'selite is the world'ssole elite community that does not appreciate the political bottom-line?that one'senemy'sfriend cannot be one'sfriend.
The political fallacy that the West?which created a geo-strategic real estate called Pakistan for its own ends (which is why Pakistan is stable only under military rule)?will stand by the Indian victim of jehad is a complete misunderstanding of the civilisational threat posed to Hindu civilisation by the monotheistic world, whatever the intra-sibling problems of the sons of Abraham.
The BJP, therefore, needs to tell the electorate that it is alive to all issues and will not suffer India and the Hindu civilisation to suffer from the politics of other nations; and that the party will not put so-called friends above the national interest. It will look inwards for strength; not outwards.
There is need to emphasise that the unreal aspect of Indian foreign policy under the UPA, which over-emphasised friendship with America (also Pakistan 'sgreatest ally and patron), at the cost of regional neighbours. India not only needs friendship and meaningful engagement with land neighbours like China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, but needs to urgently revive relationships with neglected friends like Iraq and Iran, a realisation beginning to dawn even in the UPA after Mumbai 2008.
Allied to foreign policy is the issue of foreign-funded conversions, which are a foreign policy objective of the Christian West. Under the Vatican, the West is determined to push conversions in this country, especially in rural areas. There is a need to completely ban foreign aid directly to NGOs and to clearly monitor even the usage of developmental aid disbursed to NGOs, most of whom have a political or bureaucratic nexus. This was most clearly brought out in recent times in the murder of Swami Laxmanananda in Kandhamal district, Orissa, last August, when the prime suspect was reputed to be a retired civil servant connected to an international NGO with evangelical links.
Given the nature of the challenges facing the country today, it would be difficult to enumerate them in order of importance. But the demographic challenge to India from illegal Bangladeshi immigrants cannot be underestimated, and the fact that Pakistan'sISI also recruits sleeper cells amongst them only aggravates the danger to national security.
The BJP will have to declare?particularly after the recent serial bomb blasts in Assam, once last year and then on January 1, 2009?that Bangladeshi infiltration needs tackling on a war footing. This will involve the scrapping of the useless IMDT Act and the extension of the Foreigner'sAct all over the country, with necessary amendments, if needed, to weed out and expel unwanted aliens. Exemplary punishment and fines may be considered for persons giving employment and shelter to Bangladeshi immigrants.
Another issue that warrants urgent attention is Jammu & Kashmir. Many issues came to the fore in the recent Assembly elections, apart from the need to scrap Article 370 and integrate the state fully into the Indian Union. The BJP must assert that it is committed to the return of the expelled Kashmiri Hindus to the Valley, with special provisions for their safety, employment and settlement, to begin with in the capital of Srinagar, and then in the headquarters of all districts. It must demand status for the Kashmiri language (not Urdu); proper delimitation of seats to give a fair deal to Jammu and Ladakh; and control on the venom-spewing madrasas and separatist groups.
The BJP'scommitment to save the Ram Sethu is welcome, but more pressing is the need to protect the Ganga, which is in danger of being ruined despite receiving the status of a national river under pressure of the movement headed by Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev. This involves admitting that the Tehri Dam has proved to be a failure, as the reservoir is not filling up on account of seepage which will ensure that it never fills up to the levels required to generate electricity. This kind of massive seepage can have unforeseen and catastrophic consequences on the stability of the Himalayan range itself, and the survival of the Ganga as the major lifeline of the Gangetic plain and the entire northern India.
A BJP that is serious about the Ganga must agree to dismantle the Tehri Dam as a mistake, and reconsider all dams conceived along its route under pressure of a contractor'slobby. Indeed, this American-style of contractor-driven economic development needs to be shunned in totality. The party must also make the cleaning of major rivers a national priority, on the pattern of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee'shighway project.
Economics was never the BJP'sstrong point. Nothing brought this out so much as the party'swholehearted endorsement of an American-inspired myth?via then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh?that there was no real link between agricultural prosperity and industrial development. After two decades of hype and stock market scandals, the American-led global meltdown has caused world-wide shock; but there is still no fresh rethinking about where India was going wrong. Nor is there recognition that we are safe only to the extent that our economy is insulated from the global market.
The BJP needs to do its homework urgently, and inform the people that after the global meltdown, the dollar rose against the rupee because the Chidambaram-led Finance Ministry (now headed by the PM himself) allowed foreigners to remove Rs. 450,000 crores from the Indian stock market! Imagine what full exposure would have done to the country! Despite this, the UPA is rushing ahead with plans to allow more FDI in media so that foreign countries can wholly control the media and information flows to the public, and the BJP has not even reacted to this unwholesome development. A nationalist party cannot avoid having a view on such a sensitive sector as the media being invaded and controlled by foreign powers. This is not the situation anywhere in the world? not even the West-friendly Pakistan or Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
All in all, the BJP needs to seriously consider its complacent attitude towards several critical decisions and initiatives of the UPA, and take a considered and nuanced approach towards them, in the light on the national interest and the Hindu civilisational ethos. The BJP cannot renew the nation if it does not renew the foundational ethos of the nation in the public domain.
(The author is editor, www.vijayvaani.com)