BJP's Latest Political Resolution: Is This a Game of Smoke and Mirrors?
On Tuesday, the BJP's national executive meeting passed a socio-economic resolution, lauding PM Modi's leadership for “transforming India into the fifth-largest economy from a 'Fragile Five' economy.”
In the make-believe world of the incumbent BJP government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, governance seems to have been reduced to manoeuvres to strengthen the party’s grip on power. Whatever it takes to create a larger-than-life image of the Supreme Leader, or to damn and diss opposition parties and hound their leaders, or to topple opposition governments is fair game in this enterprise. Whatever it takes to deflect attention from the government’s failures—be it the mismanagement of the economy, runaway inflation and unemployment, or India’s external relations and the utter alienation of our South Asian neighbours—is de rigueur in this project. It should come as no surprise, then, that the political resolution adopted by the BJP national executive this week reads like another page out of this play book.
The growing fissures in Centre-state relations, the controversial conduct of Governors and, most importantly, the livelihood crisis that millions of Indians face could well have been scenes from another universe.
In the parallel reality the BJP would have us inhabit, the Prime Minister has “transformed India into the fifth largest economy from a ‘Fragile Five’ economy”.
At a time when various reports have drawn attention to growing inequality, to the increasing concentration of wealth and the threat from a tendency to nurture practical monopolies, when experts who are not apologists have flagged the destruction of small and medium businesses, which also account for most of the jobs generated in the country, the BJP resolution brags about a so-called ‘governance of saturation’. By which it means, as decoded by Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan, that the government has kept its promise of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. Sure, and lies do fly.
The political resolution talks about the “negative campaign” and “personalised attacks” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Opposition, which Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman told us, have been “unmasked” and set aside by the courts. It also proudly lists these friendly judgments, but more on that later.
The previous two meetings of the BJP national executive dwelt on the same obsessive interests. When it met in November 2021, after a two-year hiatus, it once again harped on the Opposition harbouring ‘extreme hate’ and of being less than constructive. Same-old story in Hyderabad, July 2022, and ditto in the most recent iteration in New Delhi. The party’s national executive flashed the same victim card: the Opposition is apparently “running a negative campaign” and personally targeting the Prime Minister. The reference, in the political resolution, to the judicial ‘clean chits’ on the controversial Rafale deal or the infamous demonetisation of 2016 or the Pegasus spyware case or the Central Vista project are a new low in the massaging of the governance narrative. It is a worrying feature in more ways than one: for one, how people who still repose their faith—or do they?—in the judiciary might have processed the apparent whitewashing of those questionable decisions.
Meanwhile, perhaps to add some gritty detail to the narrative, the government is also apparently gunning for the judiciary. The Union law ministry has written to the Chief Justice of India suggesting that the Supreme Court collegium make space for a government representative while recommending names of judges for appointment to the high courts and the Supreme Court. While the letter is unlikely to be taken seriously, primarily because judicial appointments continue to be vetted by the government, the optics of the letter is significant.
Also significant are some apparently inane statements targeting the judiciary by the Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar. Once again, his attacks on the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution, upheld by the Supreme Court, parliamentary supremacy and the separation of powers have caused only a slight flutter of interest and perhaps mild amusement. But why attack a judiciary that will give you ‘clean chits’? Is this blowhot, blow-cold approach designed to sustain pressure when some more contentious issues, such as the electoral bonds and the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, are pending before the Supreme Court? Adverse orders, though unlikely in the present context, could be embarrassing for the government. Pre-emptive action, perhaps?