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BJP attacks Congress, predicts `disintegration’ of UPA

Wednesday 6 April 2005, by VYAS*Neena

NEW DELHI, APRIL 5. The Bharatiya Janata Party today launched a no-holds-barred attack on the Congress leadership and the United Progressive Alliance Government it leads, predicting the "disintegration" of the UPA even while it laid claim to being stronger than the Congress despite the "setback’’ in the May 2004 general election.

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Photo: Sandeep Saxena
UNITED WE STAND: Senior BJP leaders Madan Lal Khurana, Sahib Singh Verma and Varun Gandhi at the inauguration of the party’s National Executive Meeting at Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Although the word `Hindutva’ was not mentioned - neither by the party president, L.K. Advani, in his inaugural speech at the party’s national executive committee meeting here today and nor in the two resolutions adopted on the eve of the party’s Silver Jubilee special session of the National Council - there were hints that the party remained committed to its ideology of "cultural nationalism" (`Hindutva’ by another name) and took pride in its emergence as a "distinct ideological pole in Indian politics."

The burden of the song sung by the BJP today was that over a period of 25 years it had replaced the Congress as the "main axis around which all the political developments and strategies ... revolved." Mr. Advani said that if in the 1980s politics revolved around the Congress and anti-Congressism, today it moved around the BJP and anti-BJPism. And then he claimed that the BJP was the "stronger of the two poles in terms of ideological distinctiveness, organisational muscle and commitment to basic values of democracy."

The attack on the Congress was along predictable lines - Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, has projected herself as the "Super Prime Minister"; she has undermined the office of the Prime Minister; the UPA was headed by the "weakest Prime Minister India has had’’; the UPA partners were already quarrelling and pulling in different directions as was the Left which was supporting the UPA from the outside; and finally, that the UPA Government was not performing and had "betrayed" every promise made in the Common Minimum Programme.

The BJP harked back to the Hindutva language of the 1990s, charging that the Congress was practising "unbridled minorityism" with a view to advancing "minority appeasement"; that the country was not safe in the hands of the party that had imposed the Emergency 30 years ago; and it had a "myopic approach" to issues of national security, unity and integrity. In fact, Mr. Advani claimed that the BJP must strengthen itself not only to perform better in its "democratic pursuit of power," but also because the BJP, which represents the "forces of nationalism", can alone counter effectively the threats to democracy, national security and India’s unity and integrity.

In short, the message was that India could be safe only in the hands of the BJP and the "forces of nationalism’’ (represented by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad).

In his address, delivered at the end of the day, former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made a similar point when he said that the threat to India’s security was now "more from inside than outside" and therefore the BJP had increased responsibilities.

Senior party leaders later said that it was "an indirect reference to Ms. Gandhi."

Modi visa issue

The denial of visa to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, by the United States figured in a resolution. The BJP described the denial as an "affront to India’s sovereignty’’ and an insult to its `swabhiman" (self-respect). "The U.S. administration cannot arrogate to itself the role of an international guardian of human rights and freedom of faith,’’ the party stated.

Goa situation

Briefing reporters, the BJP general secretary, Arun Jaitley, described political developments in Goa resulting in the imposition of President’s Rule as a "conspiracy’’. He said the Goa Assembly should be dissolved and fresh elections ordered. Separately, a party delegation led by general secretary, Pramod Mahajan, met the Chief Election Commissioner, to demand that the five vacancies in the Goa Assembly not be filled up in by-elections unless the Government were to give an assurance that the assembly would be revived.

At the national executive meeting the party virtually charged the Congress with attempting to sabotage the election process in Jharkhand and overturn an elected government in Goa (where events were triggered by internal dissensions in the party and resignation of four BJP MLAs).

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