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HVK Archives: Moving from the fringe to the centre

Moving from the fringe to the centre - The Sunday Observer

B N Uniyal ()
May 31-June 6, 1998

Title: Moving from the fringe to the centre
Author: B N Uniyal
Publication: The Sunday Observer
Date: May 31-June 6, 1998

The BJP has robbed the Congress of all its inheritance: Gandhi,
Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, swadeshi, swaraj, secularism,
self-reliance, scientific temper, globalization, liberalization,
national consensus, non-alignment, disarmament, anti-Americanism,
pro-Russianism, and what not! Vajpayee's statement in Parliament
on the recent nuclear tests sounded like it was coming from a
Congress prime minister and not from someone who had all these
years sat on the opposition benches censuring the leader sitting
opposite him.

Nothing wrong with that as far as Vajpayee is concerned. He has
shown himself to be righteous and large-hearted, free from
Partisan prejudices and Personal grudges; reluctant to claim
credit for himself, yet ready to hail a deserving adversary. All
through, he was politely firm and firmly polite. He was
remarkably deft in weaving his own actions and decisions in the
mantle of nuclear policies inherited from Nehru and Indira
Gandhi. He sounded so sincere that he did not need to labour to
show that his recent nuclear tests were a continuation of and not
a departure from the nuclear policies of Nehru, Indira Gandhi,
and even Rajiv Gandhi. He almost said that he had done nothing
new but just carried out the task entrusted to him by his more
eminent predecessors whose credentials were beyond reproach.

This takes the BJP one big step closer to where it has been
trying to reach all these years - the centrestage of national
politics - after ousting the Congress. And the Congress is making
its task easier by slowly giving up its role as the leading party
of the opposition. While Vajpayee is successfully projecting
himself as the only rightful inheritor of Nehru's mantle, short-
sighted Congress leaders are distancing the once great party of
Indian nationalism from that inheritance.

Sonia Gandhi's first instincts were right. That is when, at her
instance, the Congress spokesman had first said: "This is a
national achievement of which the nation is proud. It is the
outcome of 40 years of endeavour of our scientists and engineers
under the prime ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi,
Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rajiv Gandhi, and P V Narasimha Rao." That
response was constructive and credit was rightfully claimed. Now,
by unnecessarily indulging in hair-splitting over the timing of
the tests, the Congress has weakened its own case.

Worse still, the Congress is now following the CPI-M in showing
greater concern for the security interests of China than for
those of India. The role fits the CPI-M which is seen, and which
sees itself, as the watchdog of Chinese interests in India, but
not the Congress which may have lost a couple of elections but
which is still seen as the only national alternative to both the
BJP-led coalition and the CPI-M-led disunited front. By toeing
the CPI-M line on the nuclear tests, the Congress is giving up
its leading role.

Thus, while the BJP is moving from the political fringe to the
political centre, the Congress is allowing itself to be pushed
>from the political centre to the political fringe. While the BJP
is converting itself from a party of sectarian interests to a
party of national consensus, the Congress is turning away from
national consensus to sectarianism. What a role reversal!

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