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Do we know the real BJP?
The run up to the 2019 general elections have started with some important states going to the polls. The Hindutva brigade, the moral police and the "gau rakshaks" are having their free run with official patronage, taking charge of institutions, and dividing up society based on religion, caste and ideology.

The "Modi wave" is on the wane over unfulfilled promises and a down turn in the economy though his speeches still enthrall people. The time is coming for us to vote again. Should we not know a little more about the origin, ideology and economic policies of the BJP?

BJP is the successor of Bharatiya Jana Sangh. In 1977, when the Emergency was lifted, the Jana Sangh merged with several other parties to form the Janta Party. Janta Party defeated the incumbent Congress in the 1977 general election. The Janata Party broke up in 1980 after internal power struggle. The members of the erstwhile Jana Sangh reconvened to form the BJP. BJP won only two seats in the 1984 general election. It became the largest party in the Parliament in 1996. It was invited to form the government but lost the trust vote. Thus, the first BJP government lasted only 13 days. General elections were held again in 1998. BJP-led coalition known as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) formed a government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This time the government lasted 13 months before it was toppled. NDA returned to power in the fresh elections which followed. The NDA government, again headed by Vajpayee lasted a full term in office. The NDA suffered an unexpected defeat in the 2004 general election. The BJP swept to power in 2014 under the leadership of Narendra Modi with an overwhelming majority.

Origin of the BJP

Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS)

Dr SP Mukherjee founded the BJS on 21 October, 1951 in Delhi with the help of MS Golwalkar, the Sarsanghchalak of RSS and became its first president. BJS was meant to be a national alternative to the Congress. The party was a proponent of Hindu nationalism. After the death of Dr Mukherjee, the RSS elements in the party forced out politicians with different ideologies and made it the political arm of the RSS. The BJS was thus ideologically close to the RSS and derived most of its workers and leaders from the RSS ranks. In the 1952 elections, the BJS won three seats in the Parliament. Many BJS leaders also initiated a drive to ban cow slaughter nationwide in the early 1960s.

It is of interest to note that Dr SP Mukherjee, the founder of BJS started his political career in Congress in 1929 before switching over to Hindu Mahasabha. He was the President of Hindu Mahasabha from 1943 to 1946 and joined the Interim Cabinet formed after Independence as Minister for Industry and Supply. He resigned from Hindu Mahasabha and founded the BJS. Dr Mukherjee resigned from the Nehru Cabinet on 8 April 1950. Dr Mukherjee was firmly against the establishment of minority commissions and guarantee of minority rights. He was strongly opposed to Article 370 which gives special status to J&K and wanted it abrogated. This agenda of BJS has been espoused by the BJP.

Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha

The Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha is a political party that was formed in 1909 to protect the rights of the Hindu community in British India. It was a reaction to the formation of the All India Muslim League in 1906 and the creation of separate Muslim electorate under the Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909. Veer Savarkar was its president from 1937 to 1941. He enunciated the concept of "Hindutva" and played a role in formation of RSS in 1925. Hindu Mahasabha had profound influence on the RSS, the Sangh Parivar and the BJP's ideology and functioning.

The Hindu Mahasabha identified India as a "Hindu Nation" and believed in the primacy of Hindu culture, religion and heritage. The Mahasabha considers Sikhs, Jains and Budhists to be Hindus in terms of national and political identity. It calls Islam and Christianity to be foreign religions. They also consider that Indian Muslims and Christians are descendants of Hindus who were converted by force, coercion or economic inducements. The party called for the re-conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism and this "ghar wapsi has been organized by RSS and VHP in many parts of India. The Hindu Mahasabha opposes Westernisation, which it regards as a decadent influence on Indian youth and culture. It calls for a revival of Sanskrit and the primacy of Hindi. The Mahasabha opposed socialism and communism as foreign ideologies. It continues to support the caste system and argues against reservation which it regards as the political appeasement of lower castes. RSS supremo, Mohan Bhagwat has often spoken in favour of doing away with caste-based reservation in education and government jobs. In 2015, vice president of Hindu Mahasabha, Sadhvi Deva Thakur, stoked a controversy saying Muslims and Christians must undergo sterilisation to restrict their growing population which was posing a threat to Hindus. It will be clear that the RSS and BJP have inherited much of their ideologies and political thinking from the Hindu Mahasabha.

Rashtriya Sayamsevak Sangh (RSS)

KB Hedgewar, a political activist in Nagpur was troubled by the weaknesses of the Hindu society against foreign invasions. He was impressed with Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar's concept of Hindutva. He visited Savarkar in March, 1925 and discussed ways of organising a Hindu Nation. He started RSS in September that year with the aim of creating a Hindu Nation. Golwalkar assumed command of the RSS after Hedgewar. He said that the religion of India is Hinduism. "Those only are nationalist patriots, who with the aspiration to glorify the Hindu race and Nation next to their heart are prompted [...] to achieve that goal. The rest are 'traitors and enemies to the National Cause'."

Role in India's freedom struggle

Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS did not actively participate in the Indian freedom movement. They did not participate in Mahatma Gandhi's non-cooperation movement of 1930 and actively opposed the Quit India Movement of 1942. In 1939, when Congress ministers resigned in protest against the Viceroy announcing India's participation in the World War II without consulting the Indian people, Hindu Mahasabha seized the opportunity and joined hands with the Muslim League and other parties to form governments in Sindh, NWFP, and Bengal. It is a travesty of justice that the RSS and its political wing the BJP who did not participate in the Indian freedom struggle and formed opportunistic coalition with the Muslim League to share political power are lecturing all sections of society on "patriotism".

Political ideology of the BJP

The first is subjugation of individual freedom. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya headed BJS after the death of Dr Mukherjee. He had joined the RSS in 1937 and was sent by RSS to BJS as Dr Mukherjee's deputy. His doctrines were adopted by the BJS in 1965 as its official doctrine. Upadhyaya rejected individualism. In line with his thought, BJP has been trying to restrict individual rights like right to free speech; right to eat, dress and marry as per one's choice.

The second is Hindutva. Hindutva is a term popularised by Veer Savarkar in 1923. The BJP adopted it as its official ideology in 1989. Savarkar defined a Hindu as one who was born of Indian parents and regarded India as his motherland. It included the followers of all Indian religions including Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, but excluded the followers of "foreign religions" such as Islam, Christianity, Judaisim and Zoroastrianism.

The BJP advocates social conservatism in women's rights, dressing, and free mixing. It is against love marriages and women frequenting pubs and clubs. Unquestioned obedience to elders is also desirable.

BJP advocates the abrogation of Article 370. It favours the building of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya over the now demolished Babri Masjid. It is also for the implementation of a uniform civil code.

Economic policies of the BJP

There is considerable difference on economic issues between the BJP and RSS. According to Upadhyaya, the primary concern in India must be to develop an indigenous economic model that puts the human being at center stage. The RSS seeks to strike a balance between the Indian and Western thinking on economic development. It is against rapid industrialization, consumerism in Indian society, social disparities and regional imbalances in economic growth which have failed to alleviate poverty in the country. This had been rejected by the BJP under Vajpayeeji and Modiji. Both followed neo-liberal economic policies which favour the rich and multinationals at the expense of the ordinary Indian.

Non-state actors of the BJP

The RSS is the patron of the BJP as well as a non-state actor. The RSS established a number of non political organisations after Independence to carry its ideology to various sections of the society. We know them as the "Sangh Parivar". The most important among them is the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) which was set up in 1964 with the objective of protecting and promoting the Hindu religion. VHP cadres are used to further BJP's agenda of Hindutva, seeking votes on the basis of religious ideology like construction of Ram Mandir and starting Shiv puja at the Taj Mahal. It supports Hindu militancy in the form of moral policing, "gau raksha"; and fighting CPM cadres in Kerala, Trinamool Congress Cadres in West Bengal and militant secularists in Karnataka.

The VHP was founded in 1964 by MS Golwalkar, head of the RSS and SS Apte who became its first general secretary. Its stated objective is to 'organise and consolidate the Hindu society and to serve and protect the Hindu Dharma'. It has been involved in controversial issues such as banning of cow slaughter, prevention of religious conversion, and re-conversion of Muslim and Christian converts. The organisation has been described as "extremist"or "militant" for its activities like spearheading the Ram Janmabhoomi movement that led to the demolition of Babri Masjid. Human Rights watchers believe that the VHP and Bajrang Dal had been involved in riots against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Their members have been involved in lynching of Muslims and Dalits suspected to be involved in smuggling cattle or consuming beef. They have been involved in forcible separation of mixed religion couples and even killing them. They have vandalized churches on suspicion of converting Hindus to Christianity. In such activities they are provided assistance and protection by the administration in the BJP-ruled states. Offenders on bail are provided jobs in public sector units. The BJP leader from the VHP, Acharya Giriraj Kishore has said on record that the life of a cow was worth more than the lives of five Dalits.

Conclusion

BJP is the political wing of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar. Our President, Vice President, Prime Minister, most of the Chief Ministers of the BJP ruled states, BJP legislators and office bearers are from the Sangh Parivar. Its mission is to gain and hold political power so that the Sangh Parivar can pursue its Hindutva agenda unhindered and make India a Hindu Rashtra. Its economic policies are elitist, focussed on bullet trains, expressways and airports and eliminating social security measures like subsidies and MNREGA. Its neo-liberal policies are aimed at gaining accolades from the World Bank, IMF and foreign investors.

I am not here to tell you who you should vote for. We are adults and should be free to do our own thing. Only, we should know what we are doing and the probable consequences.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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