As the 2014 general elections approach us, a section of India’s right-wing news media— who often feel orphaned in this country supposedly dominated by Nehruvians— along with the corporate sector are saying that India has been ruined by left-wing economics practiced for the better part of the six decades since the country’s independence. They also argue that virtually all research and academic institutions in this country have been monopolised by left-oriented thinkers. While populist economics may have, for a large part, damaged the Indian economy, it is all too easy to blame populism without looking at the larger picture, that is, the effect it has had on the polity. Both the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are to be blamed for this. The Congress’s obsession with the same as also the failure of the Indian right to come up with a solid roadmap to take on those from the other side of the political spectrum are both responsible for all the cacophony in Indian political circles today.
The Indian right is principally represented by the current opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP has often been accused of not being able to set itself as the definitive party of the Indian right. On the contrary, it has emerged as more of a Hindu right party than a party espousing other aspects of conservatism (granted that support for organised religion has always been an integral part of political parties with a right-wing ideology). Also, if one were to expunge ‘Hindutva’ or cultural nationalism from the BJP’s raison d'être, there would be nothing really separating the two principal political parties in the Indian political set up. Even the kind of economics the two parties today embrace are often more alike than different. Of course, there will be those who would counter this assertion and maintain that the two parties are fundamentally dissimilar and to drive home this point they may, for example, state that the six years of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule under the command of Atal Bihari Vajpayee were the best the country had had in many years. Moreover, unlike the Congress, the BJP can never be charged with brazenly promoting dynasty politics in the world’s largest democracy.
Yet, it is important to bear in mind a few facts. First, one of the major reasons for the NDA’s fairly successful tenure was Prime Minister Vajpayee’s leadership and more or less firm stand on many issues (some of which were at times at variance with the Sangh Parivar’s views). The current crop of the BJP, including their likely prime ministerial candidate and current Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, do not command the kind of popularity and admiration that Mr Vajpayee did.
Second, the BJP might claim they are a party with a centre-right ideology but when it comes to economic issues and foreign policy, there is a lack of clarity on where they precisely stand. Of course, a party’s position on such policies may at times deviate from its ideology owing to electoral considerations. In fact, on numerous issues the right has converged with the left. This was there for all to see during the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement episode as well as the introduction of FDI in retail.
Third, there is very little space for individuals who may not be comfortable with the Parivar’s ideology in the BJP. Certain exceptions like Jaswant Singh— a seasoned politician who fought an election on a Swatantra Party ticket in 1967 before the BJP in its current avatar was even conceived— do find space in the party. However, Singh’s views on Muhammad Ali Jinnah (as laid down in his book Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence published in 2009) led to his expulsion from the party. The book was banned in Modi’s Gujarat. Singh was rehabilitated a year later and he now once again finds himself in the ranks of the BJP.
Ever since its formation the BJP— formerly the Bharatiya Jana Sangh— has taken it upon itself to be representative of the political right in this country. It has however not been very successful in that India still largely remains a one-party dominant system with the Congress having been in power for most of independent India’s history. The BJP does however have the potential to challenge the Congress. For this they need to get their house in order. It is also important they declare to the Indian people that they sincerely believe that India is not just for Hindus but also for all other communities. A genuine democracy is not complete without political parties representative of both ends of the political spectrum (as also those with centre-right/ centre-left leanings although to be fair it is sometimes very hard to distinguish between centre-right and centre-left outfits) voicing their opinions and fighting it out amongst themselves for a chance to lead the country election after election.
For the sake of Indian democracy we must hope that a genuine Indian right bereft of rabble rousing and incessant whining emerges.
Tridivesh Singh Maini is a New Delhi-based columnist. Arko Dasgupta is a postgraduate student at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
[[Indian Muslims are world's biggest minority, have a thousand year history in India and have been major players in all aspects of Indian society.]]
Make up your mind already. Either Indian Muslims are being severely discriminated against or they are major players. It can't be both.
"For the sake of Indian democracy we must hope that a genuine Indian right bereft of rabble rousing and incessant whining emerges."
Respect!!! to the writers of this article.
#21/D-43 @Bonita - Incidentally Belgium is trilingual - Dutch,French and German - K Suresh
#21/D-43 @Bonita - Incidentally Belgium is trilingual - Dutch,French and German - K Suresh
I stand corrected.
>>"Indian Muslims .... have been major players in all aspects of Indian society".
But that has not prevented them from constant whining and staking first claim on national resources.
#21/D-43 @Bonita - Incidentally Belgium is trilingual - Dutch,French and German
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