The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP drops one holy cow, picks on ‘foreigner’

New Delhi, March 30: The BJP today came out with its Vision Document 2004, soft-pedalling its opposition to Article 370 that guarantees special status to Jammu and Kashmir but repeating its support to the Ayodhya temple and a uniform civil code.

The 48-page document is divided into two parts: the first unspooled the BJP’s “basic mission and commitments” without setting a time frame and the second spelt out its wish list to the NDA. It outlined the BJP’s “priority agenda for the next five years” which it wants incorporated in the NDA’s election manifesto, to be released on April 6.

Every BJP manifesto in the past promised that the party would repeal Article 370 if elected to power. The Vision Document has no reference to the contentious issue in the first half and barely touches on it in the second. But sources insisted there was no departure from the earlier stand.

It is likely that the “foreign origin” issue will find place in the NDA’s manifesto because the document said: “The BJP firmly holds that the high offices of the Indian state — legislative, executive and judicial — should be occupied only by those who are India’s natural citizens by their Indian origin.” The party has made Sonia Gandhi’s “foreign” origin a key campaign issue.

The please-all Vision Document has something for every BJP constituency and for every section the party is trying to win over.

If it reaffirmed its commitment to constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya through “dialogue and a negotiated settlement”, the BJP, for the first time, had a three-point assurance for the minorities: education, economic uplift and empowerment.

The party that has been accused of saffronising education also spoke of “rectifying the biases in history education, increasing the moral and cultural content in syllabi and restoring the neglected focus on character-building.”

Uniform civil code has been presented as a gender issue rather than a minority or a party-specific one. The BJP stressed it would evolve a social and political consensus before enacting a common code.

The document reinforced the BJP’s commitment to globalisation. While swadeshi did figure, it was relocated in the context of the global challenge.

“ A strong, efficient and high-growth Indian economy, in which Indian products, services and entrepreneurs dominate the domestic and global markets, is our concept of swadeshi,” it said.

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