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Sunday, August 29, 2010

N-Bill intervention a boost for BJP

By Swapan Dasgupta

The passage of the Nuclear Liabilities Bill through Parliament was marked by a rare display of convergence. A Bill that was greeted with horror and outrage when it was first drafted was deftly modified to accommodate the objections raised by the Opposition, particularly the BJP. The final product may not satisfy everyone, not least those inclined to accommodate potential N-suppliers at any cost. But it constitutes the broadest consensus on a subject that will be crucial to India's transition to another energy regime.

The Government should, of course, be complimented for its pragmatic approach to a law the Prime Minister considers a key item in the welcome kit for the US President when he comes calling in November. Had the Cabinet persisted with the initial Rs 500 crore liability and the surreptitious attempts to make a mockery of the all-important clause 17b of the Bill, it would have had to engage in the same skulduggery that was last witnessed during the Trust vote in 2008. That, in turn, would have made President Obama's visit contentious.

Yet, it takes two to tango. If the UPA showed a willingness to pay heed to the opposition's objections and suggestions, it was also because the BJP shifted tack from its confused opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal to a policy of constructive engagement. It was, therefore, not merely Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and Prithviraj Chauhan who chose to think of the BJP as the legitimate Opposition rather than as the 'enemy'; the BJP too undertook a much-needed course correction.

Contrary to some impressions, the tentative shift away from the cussed and disruptionist role played by the BJP in Parliament between 2004 and 2009, has not been easy. Those responsible for what I have often described as the 'Hizbollah-like' opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal succeeded in making the party look ridiculous to its large middle-class. The process was egged on by three factors.

First, there was a complete non-application of mind by the leadership. Stunned by its unexpected defeat in 2004, the top rung of the BJP seriously believed that unrelenting opposition would ensure that the fragile UPA dispensation would simply keel over. This belief owed as much to wishful thinking as to astrology but its net effect was paint the BJP as an obstructionist force.

Secondly, during the tenure of UPA-I, BJP moved away from the modernist plank that was a feature of the NDA Government. This was partly a reaction to the India Shining campaign's failure but it was also egged on the small trader impulses of those guiding the wider saffron movement. Thanks to this limited and blinkered vision, the BJP was unable to either present a coherent critique of the UPA's inept statist-welfare model or emerge as the natural party of rapid development. Consequently, Congress consolidated its traditional BPL vote and made deep inroads among the BJP's natural APL base.

Finally, following its 2004 defeat, the BJP abandoned all meaningful attempts to create a broad church party and retreated into an ideological ghetto. The growing importance of the RSS in the BJP may have been dictated by organisational imperatives but it led to serious distortions. The party leadership outsourced its strategic thinking to activists whose familiarity with a world beyond the committed was tenuous. This meant that the party didn't necessarily do what was right and necessary but tried to second-guess an RSS whose decision-making was at times guided by either flights of whimsy or based on eccentric inputs.

One major consequence of this over-reliance on a cultural body that is not naturally at ease with either politics or governance was the failure of the BJP to generate new blood. Rahul Gandhi's political impact may still be untested and based disproportionately on flattery and hype. However, the heir apparent has succeeded in creating a network on new talent. The BJP, on the other hand, has succeeded in repelling those who are committed to a non-Congress alternative but who have no connections with the RSS. The truncation of the NDA since 2004 is a reflection of the ghetto mentality that has overwhelmed a section of the BJP.

It is heartening that some of these dubious certitudes have been called into question by the leadership of the BJP parliamentary party. The party's role in the creation of the Nuclear Liabilities Bill marks the party's first worthwhile intervention in policy making at the Centre since 2004. It won't lead to an instant change in the popular perception of the party but it will give some reassurance to those Indians desperately searching for a worthwhile alternative to a blundering and complacent Congress.

Unfortunately, even this limited gain is in danger of being wiped out if the BJP now falls into a trap laid for it by the Congress. The 'saffron terror' issue is one where BJP must rebuff all attempts by extremists acting as custodians of Hindu interests to gain legitimacy. A resurrected Ayodhya dispute will be another test of its responsible nationalism. The Congress wants to paint the BJP as a party of narrow-minded fanatics out to destroy India's plural society. It wants to show that India's future isn't safe in the hands of such a force.

More than a thousand speeches, it is worthwhile policy engagements, like those on the Nuclear Liabilities Bill, which will persuade India to have another look at the BJP.

Sunday Pioneer, August 29, 2010


 


 


 


 


 

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I did not understand what you mean by "create a broad church party and retreated into an ideological ghetto".

ravinder said...

Minorities (sic) 20% of India have rejected BJP and accepted Congressies.
Communals (sic) 20% of India have accepted BJP and rejected Congressies.

60% of India, obiously all Hindus have yet to decide. What do these 60% want. Is it too difficult to understand. or is not worth it.

I do take it as a good sign that BJP has started to serve as an opposition party with the Nuke Liability Bill.

Jay Kumar said...

Minorities are secular who told and who proved it?

Media and secular brigade are running on the street like Archimedes ran nude shouting "Eureka" that he has practical solution for logical problem. Calling Sanghi's "communal".

aw said...

I think BJP should follow-up the Nuclear Liability Bill with (taking up nation-wide) discussion in Parliament where they should take up key infrastructure projects development/ issues even for states like Orissa, TN, kerala etc.. This will allow them to put a stake in the ground on many important issues apart from infrastructure (land acquisition and land use, rural development etc.). Also develop a constituency in many states they are not in power. Teaching Naveen Patnaik a lesson is bad politics - that should be left to the voters.

ravinder said...

Jay Kumar Bhaiyya,

(sic) means something. Using (sic) in the same sentence as 'Minorities' does not imply that minorities are refered to as secular. Also I did not call BJP communal.

Unless you begin to understand what (sic) means you will never understand why I called you an imbecile.

There was a time when BJP raised issues that could capture the imagination of the educated youth of this country. Today they are satisfied just playing musical chairs. And part of the reason for this state of affairs are people like you who fail to realise that India does not have all the eternity to itself. Minorities even if communal will have to be taken up as a contingent loss in our national balance sheet.

If India has to prevent itself from getting dragged down to the China Pakistan level then Hindus have to start dealing with some real issues that affect the lives of the people of this country like the roll back of govt. sector/interventionism.

There is just no time to deal with non-issues like what somebody said to Vishy at the level of national politics and even public blogs of political commentators. Why do you think Swapan da or Kanchan ji did not comment on it.

ravinder said...

Also Swapan da,

Thanks for pointing out the positive roll that BJP played in checking Congress stupidity in the Nuke Liability Bill.

I just hope they dont give up their duty of being the opposition leadership in Parliament.

Can it be revealed who inside BJP was instrumental in doing this Clause 17 business.

Gurinder Singh Ahluwalia said...

BJP & Swapan's dream of uniting a majority of India under 'Hindu' flag has no precedence in our long history & mythology. Its natural for people to back the winner so that they could benefit from the spoils. Unless Swapan's dream dispensation clearly demonstrates the booty that people desire to have the chances of a groundswell in the ranks would remain a mythology only. Last time when BJP came to power it was not due to people's preference for its agenda but general disagreement of congress party's poor performance. India Shining campaign was a powerful campaign, but you can not sell a poor product with howsoever great advertising. Lets stop denigrating everything thats not us and live in our elusive paradise, but search inwards for failure of centuries that plagued us Indians and build ourselves into strong good people.

ravinder said...

@Gurinder Singh Ahluwalia Ji

BJP & Swapan's dream is not unreasonable. You yourself are the result of one such experiment that bore fruit. An experiment carried out a few centuries back. Before the hindus of Punjab realised they needed to reinvent themselves they too were easy pickings. After that realisation they were an altogether different breed.

IMO you are merely stupefied, dumbstruck, overawed by the sheer size of the population.

"Its natural for people to back the winner so that they could benefit from the spoils"

No sir it is not natural. It is only part of the nature. There is far more to nature (human nature) then what you care to give it credit for.

"Lets stop denigrating everything thats not us and live in our elusive paradise, but search inwards for failure of centuries that plagued us Indians and build ourselves into strong good people"

I agree. And I am sure many many would.

Concerned said...

Swapanji, agree totally with you! As for BJP, I can only say `Jago, jago, jago...` , there is still time till 2014.

Jay Kumar said...

Ravinder,

You want to prove that you are smart in deed.

First you differentiate people into 2 categories (1) Those with less population calling them minorities (2)You call those people who voted for BJP as communal i.e. 115 seats BJP has in parliament so all those who voted for BJP are communal this is what you say in your first comment(May be you are right).

But in another para you say you did not call BJP as communal, so what you mean is that communal people vote for BJP (Hindu fundamentalist only vote for BJP and BJP knows this thing very well).

Again you say minorities must be given equal importance.

Agreed need to be given there share, then why such differentiation into categories of minorities,communal,& Hindus why not all people of this country are given equal importance why this 3 category you want?

In your last 2nd para you write Hindus have to start dealing with real issues, why you want Hindus (60% as per your calculation) only to deal with issues why not whole country cutting across all section of people come together and start to deal with real issues.

Now coming to Vishy's case I was aware no one will take it serious as I wrote he is Tamil-Brahmin and no one today will like to get a tag of Upper caste or Brahmin racist. After all Quota is what every one want today in India.

When countries media can debate on match fixing of Pakistani cricketers why can’t they debate on Vishy's issues? What will our Indian media are able to cleanse PCB and bring a moral revolution what Imran Khan is talking all about?

Hope we all know Swapanji is not a BJP spoke person so we can't ask him to advice BJP on what they have to do.

ravinder said...

Arre Jay Kumar Bhaiyya mere,

Pls try to understand. In my original post (sic) means that the tags are as per prevailing wisdom. (sic) implies that I am quoting prevailing wisdom not my own.

As for Tamil-Brahmin googly. Sir please try to understand Tamils whether Brahmin or SCs are my countrymen my fellow brothers.

This country is much too diverse and the great challenge is not to find the truth and get everybody to subscribe to it like say in the case of Pakistan. The challenge is to allow everybody to find truth and livelihood for himself/herself. It is in such a scenario that Vishy or as you mentioned even Paki criketers are not the priority. The priority remains the economy and the social mores of this country. Swapan da may not dictate the party line always but that is what a Hindu is supposed to do, have his own brain.

As for your point about the media. Sir media does what it can sell. That does not a country make. A country is above and beyond its media. Media cannot serve the educated populace so God created blogs for the wiser of the educated to point out the priorities and let the educated but less wiser ones to mend their ways accordingly.

Jay bhiayaa, what you said about Vishy being treated unfairly is absolutely correct. But bloody this is a crazy, poor, on the edge country. Vishy cannot take priority any which way at least not among the educated people.

Anonymous said...

Jay Kumar ji,

Let me tell you what I could be a match winner for BJP. I agree partly with what Gurinder ji says reg backing the winner - this I feel applies to the erstwhile NDA partners who would like to stay away from a losing team. Also, our media has painted BJP in such a negative manner that any minority community person would stay away from voting for it(one reason for Bihar CM to try to disassociate with them as Bihar has large minority population). Add to it politically motivated machinations of CBI and central govt. CBI has exonerated Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler who were directly involved in 1984 riots in which thousands of poor innocent Sikhs were killed brutally in Delhi. On the other hand, CBI shows great interest in following up the encounter killing of a known criminal and extortionist Sohrabuddin - main intention being to show that minorities are targeted in Gujarat. Of course, encounter killings are bad and should be investigated, but the manner in which CBI is functioning by picking up cases selectively to tarnish particular states and their governments is disgusting.

The best bet for BJP is to consolidate their base in the states they control by superlative performance and anti poverty programs to widen their base and try and get the remaining Hindu vote in other states that goes to other parties. I myself have never voted for BJP, but seeing all the rubbish, biased programs on N*T* and other channels, will definitely vote for them next time.

Regards

Jay Kumar said...

Ravinderji,

"Swapan da may not dictate the party line always but that is what a Hindu is supposed to do, have his own brain."

Why once again you single out Swapanji as Hindu?

So far I have not seen him supporting BJP's stand on any of the serious issue, what Swapanji does is he likes to speak on issues with broader prospects rather than stick to one political parties ideology and agenda.

Anonymousji,
CBI is an investigation agency and they will do what they where ask to do. Now coming to the point of Sohrabuddin's case it is purely pick and choose case by political parties and NGO's, Human Rights supporting family members of the dreaded terrorist.

Now when judiciary mechanism commits mistake who will monitor them is the big question mark. Even in the case of Sohrabuddin's case it seems that all judges are not on the same page as projected by medias and few political parties including self styled saint of our country(NGO's and Human Rights). Read this article by judge: -

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/86156/has-sc-over-stepped-its.html

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Bill-to-extend-retirement-age-of-judges-in-trouble/articleshow/6384921.cms

Now Soharabuddin's brother Robabudin sends legal notice to Modi charging him that he spoke against CBI now to this CBI themselves didn't find any issue and so far took no steps against Modi but this man is acting as a marketing manger (Ex-IAS officer Harsh Mander and his Team)for CBI that he is sending legal notice to Modi.

Along with all political parties its time that judiciary system also get cleansed from curroption for well being of people in our society.

ravinder said...

Jay Kumar Ji,

Are you trying to trick me or do you think i am stupid.

See I am not going to reply to your non-talk now.

As for the apparent points you are trying to make now. I would like to reiterate that BJP will be kept busy by Congress till the time BJP takes the initiative.

When BJP took up the Ram Janmabhumi Issue it gave voice to the opperession of centuries. When It gave us the "big bomb" it allowed us to come out of the fear of being naked against China. Now both time they had the initiative, both time they were right whether anybody agreed with them or not did not matter. But in first case they carried their message to the masses by educating them about the bastardisation of Indian History and that translated into votes. In the second case they failed to do that. Now all the organisation that Sangh has put up, basically amounts to nothing if it cannot COMMUNICATE WITH THE MASSES.

Modi is dispensable. Vishy is not the most important item on the agenda. THE LINK/COMMUNICATION WITH THE MASSES IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. This is where BJP is not doing enough.
Baki sab thik hai, thode ko bahut samajna, bachon ko pyar aur mataji ko pranam.

Jay Kumar said...

Ravinderji

"Bastardisation"

By using such word you have crossed all your limit and shows how much obsessed you are towards Sangh Parivar.