05/22/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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The Hindu Nationalist Party (BJP) lost also due to the violent attacks in Orissa

by CT Nilesh
Fundamentalist Pressures are never rewarding. The BJP lost 4 to 5% of its metropolitan voters. Now it has to re- conquer the middle class and the youth, who are the future of India. But it must separate from the Hindutva Groups.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) -  The biggest loser in the last Indian elections was the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the reason seems to be that just as in the past, it wanted to use the intercultural and religious tensions (as in Orissa) in order to win. After the results of the elections were declared, the general secretary of BJP, Arun Jaitley admitted that “Even in comparison to our performance in 2004 elections (when they lost), the number of seats have furthermore decreased” from 138 to 116. Not only that, as compared to the last Lok Sabha (parliament) elections, there has been a dip of about 4 to 5 percentage points in the national vote share. This fact should prompt some serious reflection about the direction this party wants to take.

The Times of India,  one of the most read newspaper’s in India has come out with a  leader in which it clearly states that: “The old ploy of provoking communal riots in order to polarize the electorate, a formula that BJP appears to have stuck to as late as 2008 in case of anti-Christian riots in Orissa, is subject to diminishing returns at the ballot box”.

The other two reasons that the media have highlighted as causes for the BJP’s debacle are: the projection of Narendra Modi, infamous for the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, as a possible candidate for prime minister. And second, for not taking the responsibility nor condemning  Arun Gandhi, (member of BJP along with his mother Maneka, and who is also the  cousin of Rahul, son of Sonia), for his communal speeches where he said that he will “cut all the hands that threaten the Hindus”.

“The criticism within the BJP have brought to light that they (the members of the extremist nationalist  party) are losing popularity among the youth as well as among the urban middle class, two segments where it had been strong earlier and which represent the emerging  India of 21st century. To reconnect with these segments and devise a winning strategy, it needs to focus on the future rather than obsess with the past. This is a new century, where destroying a mosque in order to build a temple in its place hardly fits in the program of any political party. India has changed dramatically from 1992 to 2009”

In 1992 the per capita income was of Rs.6.100, whilst now it has risen to Rs.38.084 (1 Euro= 65 Rupees). The literacy rate has risen from 52% to 68%.

“How can the BJP redirect itself?” questions the leader of The Times of India.

“It could do so by identifying and filling a gaping lacuna in Indian politics, the lack of centre-right party which speaks the language of reform and harnesses globalization to expand the middle class. That would be incompatible with a Hindu Rashtra plank, but Hindu Rashtra can be substituted with a strong nationalist appeal which would have greater resonance across the country”.

The newspaper concludes saying the BJP needs “to cut its ties with the far right” i.e.with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajarang Dal and the so called Sangh Parivar (family)[an association of militant Hindus that started the attacks against the Muslims and Christians] . But till the party continues to recruit its leaders amongst  the pracharak (preachers) of the RSS it will be impossible to cut its umbilical cord.

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