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Modernising the Mindset - The Times of India

Murli Manohar Joshi ()
February 2, 1998

Title: Modernising the Mindset
Author: Murli Manohar Joshi
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 2, 1998

In recent times, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been accused of
throwing principles to the wind in order to win allies. We have
certainly not done anything of the sort, but we found ourselves
in a situation where the more we played by the rules, the more
others were violating them. During the Mahabharat war, the
Pandavas were constantly fighting a dharamyudh while the Kauravs
defeated and exiled them. When Karan was trying to lift the wheel
of his chariot and Arjun was shooting at him, he argued that the
dharamyudh prohibited attacking an unarmed man. It was then that
Krishna asked him where his principles were when Abhimanyu was
killed, when the Pandavas were defeated by fraud. All these
years, we upheld our principles only to be treated as pariahs so
we decided to teach everyone a lesson. But we will definitely go
back to principles once this political transition is over. We
hope everyone else will too.

A Clear Goal

The BJP is the only party which has a clear goal, that of
stability under the leadership of Mr AB Vajpayee. There are
several aspects to stability - a stable country, a stable
government and a stable and dynamic economy. Economic policy is
not something which should be dislocated with changes in
government. Our brand of swadeshi economics means empowering the
people. We welcome foreign investment in areas where we lack
expertise - my slogan is well known "computer chips, yes, potato
chips, no". India needs to take pride in its capabilities, Indian
brands should become sought after internationally. For this,
research and development needs to be improved and quality
controls tightened.

The liberalisation we envisage will mean freeing the economy from
the present bureaucratic stranglehold. It is not enough to say
the country is liberalising while doing nothing to dismantle the
licence permit raj. It is only when bureaucracy disappears from
the economy that we can truly modernise. Our motto is liberalise,
modernise, globalise. For this we need to take the best from
other countries. So far, various governments have considered
technology to be the brainchild of the West and philosophy to be
that of India. We certainly have our own genius when it comes to
technology but we should take what is best from other countries

India needs to develop much greater confidence in itself. We have
done wonders in areas like space, defence and nuclear technology.
Yet when it comes to boldly declaring that we are a nuclear
power, we falter. Personally, I feel we should go ahead and state
that we are a nuclear power. This wavering has created a
situation today where we have lost out on patent rights in the
WTO. If we had reconciled international commitments with national
interests, we would have been in a much better position today and
would not be lagging behind even countries like Israel.

Justice for All

The BJP's performance in the various states it rules disproves
the theory that it is biased against the so-called minorities, We
believe in the credo justice for all, appeasement of none.
Various people have been raising questions about the BJP's agenda
vis-a-vis the Muslims. I would like to state that we want the
Ayodhya dispute to be resolved either through dialogue or
legislation, not litigation and that Kashi and Mathura are
definitely not on our agenda. The Muslims appreciate our candour
and are joining our party in droves. In my own constituency of
Allahabad, 700 Muslims have joined us. They say they feel safe
with me as their representative. I personally do not consider
Muslims or Christians to be minorities. It is this philosophy of
minorityism that has resulted in a social and religious divide.
After all, the majority of Muslims and Christians are of Indian
stock. Ways of worship may be different but that does not
transform a person from majority to minority.

The religion bogey is just another stick to beat the BJP with.
India has never been a Hindu state, India can never be a
theocracy because the Hindu mind is secular. The Congress has
been and still is a communal party which has misused religion and
created divisions. The perception of the BJP as some sort of
Hindu party is the result of the sustained onslaught on us in
which the media has played a major role. Our demand for a
uniform code too has been misinterpreted by many as a ploy to
impose a Hindu code on the country. This is absolutely untrue, we
want a situation where everyone gets a fair deal before the law.
Personal laws at present discriminate in matters like inheritance
which are particularly prejudicial to women.

We are firmly behind any move that empowers women and
wholeheartedly support the reservation bill. Conditions are such
that at present no party is giving enough tickets to women, hence
the need for a law making reservations compulsory. Admittedly,
the woman has a major role to play in the family, but she has to
have economic independence as well. If she does not, she becomes
a second class citizen. Indian women are proving that they are
second to none in every field ranging from space to
mountaineering. Politics is one area where they need to
participate much more.

Having women like Mrs Sonia Gandhi in politics really does not
make any difference. These are not women of substance. How much
has Mrs Gandhi, for example, done for the country? She considered
politics a dirty game, she tried to prevent her late husband from
entering politics. All these years she has lived here and enjoyed
herself but what does she have to show for herself'? The
Congress has not done itself any credit by focusing on Mrs
Gandhi. The people have clearly made up their minds that Mr
Vajpayee is the man they can bank on.

Those who argue that a single:, strong party at the Centre is not
in 1 the interest of a country as diverse, as India are doing so
because they would like to see India suffering for lack of a
reliable government. This is borne out by the repeated failures
of the Disunited Front as it should now be called.

The RSS Factor

Much has been made of the fact that we are close to the RSS. We
certainly do listen to it and take its advice, but there is no
question of. the RSS controlling the party. All the BJP's leaders
grew up in the RSS tradition and it continues to help us whenever
we are in difficulty.

When the BJP comes to power, we are going to make a concerted
effort to tackle the real problems confronting us in the areas of
social development. Education, of course, is one and we have
promised free education for women up to graduation. Population is
another. We strongly support the two-child norm and will
implement it by legislation if necessary. People have a
responsibility to society too. The family planning programme has
to target women more because they bear the brunt of childbearing.
A woman has a natural instinct for motherhood and also to produce
a male child which is a replica of her husband. It will take a
while to correct these mindsets. We intend to make a beginning
in all these neglected areas. It is only then that India can
march, head held high, into the next millennium.

(As told to Lalita Panicker)

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