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BJP’s manifesto another stride

Reema Shaukat

INDIAN election 2019 first phase is going to start from 11th of April and will be completed in different phases till 19th of May. Presently governing BJP lost in four states of India in which elections were conducted. Now PM Modi’s ruling party BJP has released its agenda or so-called BJP manifesto 2019 with new promises to Indian public. BJP manifesto was released by Modi along with other party members. BJP party has titled this as Sankalp Patra meaning’ Resolution Document’ or ‘Pledge’. Sushma Swaraj while criticising other parties manifesto said that this document as its title suggests is our pledge with Indian public that we are committed towards fulfilling these pledges we have taken.
75 promises are made by BJP in the manifesto but a few are notable ones. Past few years of Modi government have shown how unkind and heartless BJP rule is towards Kashmiris. BJP now in their strategy has mentioned that if they will come again in power they will implement new laws in Jammu & Kashmir. India on political grounds is trying for demographic engineering in the IoK. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP has consistently advocated ending Kashmir’s special constitutional status, which prevents non-residents from buying property in Indian-administered Kashmir, arguing that such laws have hindered its integration with the rest of the country. Now in manifesto they have mentioned ‘we believe that Article 35-A is an obstacle in the development of the state’. In the past we have seen that the BJP, in confusion with the RSS, has fostered its agenda of IoK’s complete integration into India. Though legal experts of India and IoK High Court have clarified the permanent status of Article 370 of Indian Constitution, BJP’s agenda of division is still on the table. In this regard, BJP is in hot pursuit of Mission 44+ during elections.
However, short of that, BJP and RSS are busy in changing religious identity of the State. For example, special concessions were given to expand the horizon of Amarnath Yatra to project that Hindus have greater stakes in IoK than Muslims. Special efforts are being made for demographic engineering in the State like announcing the package for 1947 West Pakistan refugees to be recruited in Armed Forces from IoK quota, allocation of lands and donating Indian rupee worth 2 million to each Hindu Pundit family to establish separate cities in the Valley. On the other hand health, education, local infrastructure, social support and rural development sectors are also controlled by BJP legislators and major chunk of projects are announced in Hindu majority area or BJP constituencies. Hence through these tactics BJP is longing for Mission 44+ in next assembly elections. However, reacting to Article 35-A many leaders in IOK said that this will just provoke widespread unrest as it is against the law as this Article empowers the Jammu & Kashmir State Legislature to define “permanent residents” and provides them with special rights and privileges. It also bars non-state subjects from purchasing property and having government jobs in the disputed region.
Another placard which Modi is raising in upcoming election is slogan of nationalism. Keeping in mind Post-Pulwama situation that has developed between India and Pakistan, India is very much exposed on all domestic and international fronts about its blatant lies of surgical strikes and false operations. Now to present fake picture of manipulated and so called victory, India is selling anti-Pakistan vote bank among its domestic audience. Modi while releasing manifesto said that ‘Nationalism is our inspiration’ and hence trying to make his strong stance on national security a key part of the BJP’s election campaign. Another controversial promise is to create a uniform civil code. Currently under the constitution, different religions have different civil code rights, particularly for marriage and inheritance and are intending to pass the citizenship bill. It is another measure that would allow immigrants from neighbouring countries who are not Muslim to get Indian citizenship. This really shows how the followers of RSS and BJP keep grudges against Muslims in India. BJP being a fanatic Hindu Party in their agenda, has also mentioned that it is committed to building a temple for Hindu god Ram in Ayodhya in place of Babri mosque, which was demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992.
Modi before election 2014 also made rising and shining India hymns but completely failed to do something for welfare of common man. His economic policies couldn’t bring the desired results instead corruption in many projects was revealed. One of them which made headline was buying of Rafael jet controversy, on which BJP had no face saving in front of its own politicians and other political parties. Modi government in the past has faced huge criticism and protest by farmers throughout India as according to farmers, Modi’s failed policies brought agrarian crisis. Farmers claim that in 2014 they voted for BJP but anti-farmer policies of the government have hit them hard and they were not given what BJP had promised us.
Hindu fundamentalism is increasingly broadening its influence everywhere and has already established a firm base of radicalism in educational sector, bureaucracy and media. The hate campaign unchecked by the extremist forces is keeping the minority anxious in defending their basic human rights and cultural identity. The RSS and other extremist elements must be checked and controlled to reduce communal riots and human rights violations. If the societal decline in India keeps on rising and the way people are suffering from “saffronization” continues, one day it will appear as a huge jolt to its traumatised frugality. If Modi gains powers again as PM, he must review BJP’s hardline and hawkish policies. Though one cannot deny Modi’s desire for strategic plutocrat of South Asia but to have stability and peace in the region and on home ground he has to work on creating balanced and coexistent environment.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.