The right turn for BJP
- As a public figure, you must learn to face criticism: SC tells Jayalalithaa in defamation case
- Rajnath Singh: Those who believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat & Jamhooriyat welcome for talks
- Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit, says probe panel set up by HRD Ministry
- Scorpene Submarine: Will probe leak, says DCNS; source not from India, says Defence Ministry
- Saradha scam: ED summons Chidambaram's wife Nalini
Its electoral chances will depend on how it re-imagines its ideology
The BJP is yet again faced with an enduring question, which it has never fully answered. Would it like to be a modern centre-right party, or continue to be tethered to an anti-Muslim, Hindu majoritarian ideological platform? The former can potentially trigger the BJP's electoral revival; the latter is virtually certain to lead to stagnation, even decline. Yet the BJP is not headed in the former direction.
What does a modern right-of-centre political party look like? How does the BJP compare?
Consider the two best known centre-right parties of contemporary times: the Republican Party in the US and the Conservative Party in the UK. There are undoubtedly some differences between the two, but four common features define their ideological stance: muscular national defence, social conservatism, fiscal conservatism and a reliance on markets for economic growth.
The old saying — laaton ke bhoot baaton se nahin maante (some people only respond to a show of force, not to dialogue) — captures the essence of why modern conservatism subscribes to muscular defence. Conservatives believe in the obduracy of evil, something that cannot be forestalled by persuasion. Military strength is viewed as a guarantor of national survival and political order. Such strength must precede a dialogue with the adversary, if a dialogue must take place at all. More than the Congress, the BJP has followed this principle in politics. Its decision to go nuclear in 1998 was a case in point.
Social conservatism has typically meant an advocacy of traditional social order, a defence of family values and a belief in gradual, as opposed to radical, change. British conservatives defend the monarchy more vigorously than the leftists do, and US Republicans focus a lot on the sanctity of traditional marriage, opposing vigorously the idea of same-sex marriage.
- Tension between the executive and judiciary could play out in creative, or destructive, ways
- Mental Health Bill tries to address complex issues, but it’s a work in progress
- Modi’s recent statements could help end the troubled region’s long international isolation
- Divya Spandana: Pakistan is no hell, I stand by my remarks
- The freedom from unreason
- Cow protection, paradoxically, poses a threat to the BJP’s project of Hindu unity