The BJP promises military stability

The party’s desire for ‘stability’ goes well with the anti-democratic sentiments of retired military personnel who have recently joined the saffron bandwagon

I n recent weeks, too many people seem to offer the banal sentiment that this time it appears inevitable that the BJP and its allies will triumph. The "there is no alternative" (TINA) hypothesis was much trumpeted in neo-liberal circles to demand liberalization; now the same political line is being taken on the elections. Both bespeak of a lack of political imagination and of moral judgement. The TINA position is erroneous on two grounds:

The first mistaken belief is that states can and should be ruled by single parties rather than by multiparty coalitions. Democracy must not be squandered for the sake of an expedient search for "stability." Multiparty coalitions allow many voices to enter governance and to place needed checks and balances on those who rule (especially in such vast countries as India).

The collapse of the Congress led to the National Front experiment, but that failed in large part because its members had an opportunistic attitude towards the coalition. The United Front, in contrast, has held together and its constituents appear to have created a modus operandi essential to political rule. The other successful coalition is the Left Front government in West Bengal that has survived for two decades through the creation of mechanisms for the management of intra-front problems. These coalitions show that the form is worthwhile and democratic.

The BJP recognized in the early 1990s that it would be unable to win sufficient support in most states to ensure its victory in Delhi. Therefore, over the years, it too has cultivated a platform for various parties who subscribe in some measure either to its ideology (Shiv Sena) or who are eager to take power in Delhi at all costs (George Fernandes’ Samata Party).

In seven states the BJP has created alliances that make little sense in terms of its own manifesto. For a party wedded to national unity, it embraced both the Akali Dal in Punjab (whose history of mild secessionism is well-known) and the Tripura Upajati Yuva Samiti (whose militancy is the stuff of legend). For a party that claims to oppose corruption, it is now in alliance with the extensively charge-sheeted Jayalalitha and the AIADMK. It embraces dissident Congress leaders (whose entry into the BJP is simply to ensure the maintenance of their fiefdoms) such as Aslam Sher Khan and Anadi Charan Sahu. And it allows considerable space to opportunistic fence-sitters like Navin Patnaik and Suresh Kalmadi both of whom have floated their own parties in alliance with the BJP rather than risk complete submission to it (the Biju Janata Dal and the Pune Vikas Aghadi).

Isn’t the vote bank culture of the Congress something that the party once vowed to abolish? In September last year, the party president L. K. Advani noted that "if the BJP is looking like the Congress, it is part of the democratic process. We are, after all, witnessing the transformation of an ideological movement into a party of governance." In other words, in order to rule, the party of Hindutva is willing to absorb corrupt elements within the Congress and use their venal thirst for power (at any cost) as a means to put its own anti-democratic, anti-cultural agenda into full motion.

The second error of judgement that appears on the internet and at gatherings of Indians is that the BJP has mellowed since its December 6,1992 days and it will now simply act as the party of "stability." The desire for "stability" is championed amongst the elite particularly since many have realized that the 1991 liberalization dynamic has made the Indian economy dependent upon foreign capital investment.

When Sakutaro Tanino, Japanese ambassador to India, told the Confederation of Indian Industry that "the political situation [in India] has made our people really apprehensive about investing," the Indian elite senses danger for itself. For this reason, perhaps, the big business houses have begun to line-up behind the BJP. On 25 December 1997, major newspapers carried a supplement in honour of Atal Behari Vajpayee’s 74th birthday, paid for by big business houses who are eager to protect their interests. The Left parties argue that the bill for the next election will exceed Rs. 8 billion ($211 million) and the party that collects the most support from big business is clearly at an advantage. The BJP, as the new beloved of big business, is slated to receive large funds.

‘Stability’ requires the promise of an end to communal violence, something that the BJP and its allies cannot guarantee. The desire for "stability" amongst the managers of the BJP led to the recent and sensational entrance of 90 retired military personnel into the party. One ex-officer noted on the occasion that "the armed forces can do anything better than others, whether administrative work in the government or running the politics of the country." This sentiment goes well with the anti-democratic statements of Thackeray and it shows us that the BJP plans to be the agent for the entry of a military "stability" to India. All those who cherish democracy must fight against this sort of political mayhem. n

Archived from Communalism Combat, February 1998, Year 5  No. 40, Comment






Related Articles

Related VIDEOS