Millennium Post

BJP and its changing stands

One is forced to witness the verbal acrobatics and the changing stand of the political parties in run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The parties are striving hard to yield the maximum electoral harvest. This sort of change is, of course, visible in most of the political parties, though, the major opposition and the leading party in the NDA, the BJP has been striving to bring more sections and communities in its fold by expressing liberalism in respect of its core issues.

While going through the past, one would be able to draw a crystal clear conclusion on the habit of the party in question during different elections. The saffron party had been either changing stand on its key issues or diluting it appropriately in order to suit its timely need with an aim of extending its reach out strategy and seats. The party during the days of the Samyukata Vidhayak Dal governments in 1967, Janata Party regime in 1977 and, not only kept its dear issues in cold storage but also left the same in the lurch while giving final shape to the Common Minimum Programmes. The core issues of the ban on cow slaughter, Ram Temple at Ayodhya, Common Civil Code and Article 370 used to be presented with timely perspectives on different occasions. This resulted in putting a permanent question mark on the credibility of the party leading to scarcity of the allies when in need.

The issue of Kashmir had been one of the paramount issues of the party. It was the core issue when earlier incarnation of the BJP, the then Bhartiya Jansangh was launched by Shyama Prasad Mukerjee.  It is generally stated that Mukerjee sacrificed his life in Kashmir while opposing the special status of J&K to highlight the integration of Kashmir with the country. The political analysts are surprised to take note of the two supreme leaders of the party on the relevance of Article 370 in the present context. It is being debated if the statements are merely election related constraints or an effort to bring a change in the basic ideology of the party?

The recent statements of the BJP president, Raj Nath Singh, during his address in the National Council meeting and of the party’s pick for the post of the PM, Narender Modi at Lalkar rally at Jammu in December last year on Article 370, were cautiously noticed in the political circles. The BJP president tried to link the need of Article 370 of the constitution with the development in the state of J&K whereas Modi mooted an idea of convening a debate on Article 370 which provides a special status to the state in question.  Singh stressed upon the need to know whether the continuation of the article has smoothened the path of development whereas Modi was keen to ascertain up to what extent it has benefitted people of the state. Are the statements by the two leaders, who matter in the party, a part of a strategy to establish a liberal face of the party like Vajpayee during the NDA regime or a shift in the party stand? It is on record that Vajpayee was of the view that the problems in Kashmir should be addressed on the basis of insaniyat. He further stated that the basic issues are to be decided as per the principles of jamhooriyat, insaniyat and kashmiriyat.  The words of Vajpayee were not being taken lightly even by his opponents. It is now time for both Modi and Singh to express their stand clear on Article 370 and other important and contentious issues rather than divulging in a piece meal manner. This would help the party in establishing its credentials across the nation. The shift in their stand must reflect at least a reasonable change in their hearts also. The Article in question was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of the country and became operative on the 17 November 1952. It provides a special status to the state of J&K.

Initially, it was understood as a temporary arrangement as the situation was not ripe for the integration of J&K into the country as stated by former diwan of the state, the principal drafter of Article 370 and the minister without portfolio in the first Union government, Gopalswami Ayyangar while refuting charge of discrimination among the states on this issue. The 1974 accord between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah expresses commitment to keep the relationship of J&K and India within the ambit of Article 370. Hence, the article acquired the permanent feature.

It is not any child’s play to affect any change or delete it without proper adoption and concurrence of J&K Constituent Assembly. In case a party is keen to dilute or reinforce the Article in question, it is supposed to come out with a specific intentions or else it would be termed as an election stunt.

The author is a communications consultant
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