The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP redefines Hindutva and itself

Hyderabad, Jan. 11: No mention of Ayodhya or cross-border terrorism. Swadeshi had fallen into disuse even earlier. Hindutva was redefined in its “real” sense to mean “all-round progress of India”.

As the BJP’s national executive was overshadowed by the apparent confusion and debate over the timing of the Lok Sabha polls, the party signalled a change in its agenda and idiom, designed to bolster its claim to be a “centrestage” political entity, an inheritor of the Congress’ hold-all politics.

The change was dictated by the compulsions of coalition politics, the need to cater to the sensibilities of Indian business and the upwardly mobile classes uncomfortable with the mosque-breaking brigade and respond to the cross-currents of globalisation. It was reflected in the idiom BJP leaders used in their speeches and in the syntax in which its resolutions were written.

The most significant transformation was manifest in the executive’s response to the Prime Minister’s latest peace overture to Pakistan. After days of pondering over the “desirability” of moving a resolution in praise of the Saarc summit for fear that this may upset the Hindutva constituency weaned on an anti-Pak diet, the BJP played along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “harmony” agenda aimed at softening up the liberals and Muslims.

The resolution, which was adopted today, said: “The visit (to Islamabad) became path-breaking because of his statesman-like contribution to two positive developments — the landmark 12th summit of Saarc and the breakthrough achieved in the frozen bilateral relations between India and Pakistan.”

It steered clear of the BJP’s Pakistan-targeted terrorism rhetoric and applauded Vajpayee for getting the Islamabad leadership to commit itself, for the first time in a bilateral context, not to allow terrorists to use its soil for anti-India operations.

“Our policy of firmness on principles and flexibility in tactics appears to be working,” the resolution said.

BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu said in his opening remarks: “Whereas the Congress governments created and aggravated the Kashmir problem, Atalji and his government alone can resolve this problem.”

Naidu called on the minorities to “cross the mental barrier of hesitation, vote for the BJP and strengthen Shri Atalji’s leadership”.

“You have nothing to lose, except the false notions created by our opponents,” he added.

He described Hindutva as a concept that involved making every social section — Hindus, Muslims and Christians — participants and beneficiaries of development and progress.

The other manifestation was the economic resolution. While past executives had got bogged down in swadeshi-globalisation polemics, the “feel-good, feel-great” mantra reigned this time, as finance minister Jaswant Singh collected all the praise.

The resolution claimed that “thanks to the Prime Minister’s vision” and the policies pursued by the NDA government, India had emerged as a military, political and diplomatic power. It said the task before the government was to make India a “global economic power”.

Commerce and law minister Arun Jaitley, expressing the transformation in his own party, told the media: “The last six years have succeeded in changing mindsets of people and policies. The thrust and vocabulary of politics that is emerging is on economic management and how you improve the quality of life of citizens.”

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