The political resolution adopted by the Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive on Sunday makes a rather bold claim. The right-wing party – which once explicitly confined itself to the heartland by turning Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan into its raison d'etre – says that it is now the only truly national political entity, beating out even the Congress.
But this assertion comes with a bit of a qualification. "In a way," the sentence begins, "the BJP has emerged as the only Pan-national party today... The BJP has now spread to all parts of Bharat."
That "in a way" seems necessary because the BJP is either unable or unwilling to fully embrace its success across India. Even as party president Amit Shah travels the nation speaking of eradicating its principal opponent to create a Congress-mukt Bharat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to insist that his government is the victim of conspiracies aimed at destabilising India.
Any attempt to strongly assert that the Congress-mukt Bharat project has been successful would puncture the we-are-still-the-true-victims-here narrative. And so, two years and three Budgets into Modi's tenure, the BJP's political statements still seem somewhat obsessed with the Congress.
The resolution has a number of stinging words for the Congress. It calls the party "cynical and self-serving" for its actions on Ishrat Jahan, it berates the Congress for always neglecting to highlight BR Ambedkar's role in drafting the Constitution, it says that they have "miserably failed" to empower weaker sections while "shamelessly" stooping to the level of fomenting inter-caste violence. And it calls the Congress' opposition to the Goods and Services Bill "cynical and irrational".
Meanwhile, it is much more glowing about its own government. The words used to describe Modi and his administration are, "transparent, non corrupt and incorruptible,” “determined," "transformative" and "path-breaking."
“Bharat under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi stood up like a beacon of hope and trust," the resolution says, adding elsewhere that, "Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has brought in dynamism, courage, clear vision and direction to the government.”
Even Modi's visit to Pakistan gets a bit of praise, although the neighbour itself is not name-checked. "The BJP applauds the imaginative and out of the box outreach of the Honourable Prime Minister with all our neighbours and its people, as it would strengthen Bharat’s position in the world," the resolution says.
The party may have dropped "revered" as an adjective to describe Modi, one that it used in its resolution the previous year, but Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu more than made up for it by calling the prime minister "god's gift for India" and a "messiah".
A fresh entrant into the resolution is the Left. None of the resolutions from the past few years mentions anyone other than the Congress. This time around, the political resolution pits the Left with the Congress as jointly responsible for ruining the lives of the weaker sections. It also marvels at the Left and the Congress' ability to fight each other in one party of the country, while managing an "unholy alliance" elsewhere.
Naturally some of this is because elections this year involve the Left, both in Kerala and in West Bengal, but temporal concerns aren't always the motivation seeing as last year's resolution didn't make any mention of either the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi or the Grand Alliance in Bihar, both states that the BJP lost.
As a laundry list of accomplishments, the BJP has managed to compile a decent list, from giving more amenities to the armed forces and inducting women into the military to bringing down inflation and setting up a "hub" for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. As expected, starting with the 'antyodya' push from Modi last year, the resolution suggests a welfarist-rural shift, just as the Budget did earlier this year.
Its opening and closing assertion, however, has nothing to do with welfare, development, reforms (which get one mention) or jobs. Instead, something else is front and "Centre".
Nationalism, national unity and integrity are an article of faith with the BJP. A very microscopic minority in this country is today indulging in a kind of demagogy that goes against the very essence of our Constitution. Our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Expression to every citizen; but that freedom is enjoyable only within its framework. Talking of destruction of Bharat can’t be supported in the name of freedom of expression. Similarly refusal to hail Bharat – say Bharat Mata ki Jai – in the name of freedom is also unacceptable.