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BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY
National Council Meeting
23 & 24 December 2006
Sri Sundar Singh Bhandari Parisar
Lucknow


The National Council of the Bharatiya Janata Party records the country's growing condemnation of the Congress-led UPA Government's vote-bank politics, particularly its practice of communal appeasement. In attempting to make political gains, the Congress and its allies are pursuing policies that are turning Indian against Indian, kindling divisive identities, jeopardising the country's social cohesion and compromising national security. The BJP is concerned that the Government's short-sighted approach will have a bearing on the integrity of India. In courting popular support, the Congress has destroyed all the norms governing political mobilisation and turned a blind eye to national interests.

Competitive appeasement

The recklessness of the Congress and its allies is born of expediency. The UPA Government lacks coherence in economic and foreign policy; its approach to India's larger strategic goals, including nuclear policy, is beset with contradictions. The squabbling fractions of the UPA are joined together by a competitive commitment to narrow sectarian politics, particularly aimed at the Muslim community.

The past year has witnessed the Congress President, the Prime Minister, senior Union ministers and key political figures in the states trying to outdo each other in offering sops to Muslims—regardless of its damaging consequences.

Communalisation of development

Earlier, the wooing of the Muslim community was couched in the language of minority welfare. Today, the UPA Government has shed its camouflage and is explicitly courting the Muslim community alone. The Rajinder Sachar Committee was appointed by the Prime Minister to inquire into the conditions of the Muslim community. At the National Development Council meeting, the Prime Minister declared that the Muslim community has "first claim" on India's development resources.

The BJP condemns this communalisation of the Government's development programme and the use of religious identity to apportion taxpayers' money. The Congress has initiated an unhealthy, divisive and potentially dangerous political trend.

A shameful record

The slide towards Muslim appeasement began with the installation of the UPA Government in May 2004. The notable examples include:

  • The dismissal of four Governors appointed by the erstwhile NDA Government on the ground that they had links with the RSS.
  • The inclusion, for the first time since Independence, of a Muslim League representative in the Union Council of Ministers.
  • The attempt to shield the perpetrators of the 2002 arson attack in Godhra by the illegal appointment of the Bannerjee Committee by the Railway Ministry, despite the existence of a Commission of inquiry. Predictably, the Bannerjee committee declared that the death of the pilgrims inside a railway compartment was an accident and not the result of a pre-meditated attack.
  • The illegal immigration of Bangladeshis into eastern India has been sanctioned and condoned by successive Congress Governments on the grounds that the foreigners happen to be Muslims. Census figures were sought to be doctored when they suggested a religious demographic transformation of large parts of eastern India. The IMDT Act which was struck down by the Supreme Court was re-introduced by the backdoor. The Supreme Court has struck down the latest notification too.
  • Vande Mataram , India's national song which inspired the freedom movement, was dragged into controversy by the Congress following motivated objections by narrow-minded Muslim leaders to its singing.
  • The introduction of religion-based reservations. The Congress Government of Andhra Pradesh introduced 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in higher education; and the Centre declared that 50 per cent of all seats in Aligarh Muslim University would be reserved for Muslims.
  • Minority educational institutions have been excluded from the purview of the new reservations policy for Backward classes. As a result, the existing reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes stand removed from minority institutions which are now outside the purview of legislation. The Government has fallen back on expediency to justify this. Whereas in the matter of education it claims that caste is alien to Islam and Christianity, it is simultaneously campaigning to enlarge the Scheduled Castes category to include Muslims and Christians in employment. One of the new terms of reference of the Ranganath Mishra Commission on linguistic minorities was to find ways of incorporating Muslims and Christians into the category of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The BJP believes that such a move will encourage religious conversions. It is significant that Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi wrote to the President of India Protesting against the anti-conversion legislation passed by BJP-run state governments.
  • The Sachar Committee has recommended the use of nominations to enhance representation of Muslims in government.
  • Soft on jihadi terror
  • The policy of Muslim appeasement has been taken to such dangerous heights that the Congress-led Government has chosen to go soft on terrorism. The Government has yielded space to jihadi elements that are out to destroy India. The pattern of the Government's capitulation is evident from the following:
  • POTA was repealed by suggesting it was anti-Muslim. This has adversely affected the fight against terrorism.
  • The Congress and Left-dominated Kerala Assembly passed a unanimous resolution to release the prime accused in the Coimbatore bomb blast case.
  • The Uttar Pradesh Government headed by the Samajwadi Party has not implemented the Centre's ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Cases against prominent SIMI functionaries have been withdrawn,
  • An attempt was made by the Sachar Committee, to examine the religious composition of the armed forces. The move was dropped after a public outcry and protests by the army chief. In its report, the Sachar committee has, however, justified this attempt to view the armed forces through a religious prism.
  • The death sentence awarded to Afzal Guru for his role in the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001, has been put on hold. The punishment of a terrorist conspirator has been needlessly converted into an issue of Muslim sentiment. Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, went public with his opposition to a judicial verdict.
  • The Government has been deliberately underplaying the involvement of both Pakistan and Pakistan-aided jihadis in terrorist incidents all over the country. By agreeing to a joint Indo-Pakistan mechanism to monitor terror, the UPA Government has diluted the Islamabad declaration of January 2004 and allowed Pakistan to extricate cross-border terrorism from the so-called peace process. It was shameful for the Government to suggest that both India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism.
  • The UPA Government has rubbished the investigations of the Mumbai Police Commissioner pointing to a Pakistani-role in the Mumbai blasts of July 11. The role of Pakistan in the blasts was not even mentioned in the Foreign Secretary-level talks in October.

The BJP perspective

The BJP believes that Muslims are an inseparable part of India. They share with the rest of the people a common ancestry and a common culture. Their struggle for economic prosperity, social dignity, women's empowerment and education make them one with the rest of India. By separating Muslim issues from the rest, the Government is creating an artificial divide, breeding resentment and nurturing divisive forces. In linking the fate of terrorist conspirators with Muslim interests, the Congress and its allies are implicitly suggesting that Muslims have a stake in terrorism aimed against the ordinary people of India. This does nationalist Muslims a grave injustice.

The BJP believes that all Indian citizens, regardless of language, class and creed are equal. The party condemns the Congress Party's assertion that some citizens are more equal than others and have first claim on resources on the basis of their faith. The BJP believes that equity demands special treatment and, where necessary, affirmative action for the poor and the disadvantaged. The party, however, repudiates the suggestion that this can be done on the basis of religion.

The BJP notes that the Congress and many other parties flaunting their "secular" credentials have developed a vested interest in keeping Muslims poor, ghettoised and in a state of permanent nervousness. They have perceived Muslims as voting fodder and not worked for their betterment. The social disabilities of Muslim women have, for example, never been addressed. Shah Bano and Imrana stand testimony to this injustice to Muslim women.

The Congress, which has ruled India for 47 of the 59 years since Independence, cannot escape responsibility for the dismal plight of many Muslims in large parts of India. It is revealing that Muslims are most backward in states such as Bihar and West Bengal where the most vocal of the "secular" parties were and are in power for long.

By attempting to re-inject religion-based quotas and reservations into India, the Congress is re-opening old wounds. The BJP would like to remind the Indian people that it the creation of separate electorates and the categorisation of society along religious lines which produced a separatist mindset and led to the Partition of India in 1947. It is precisely for this reason that the founding fathers of the Republic kept religion out of decision-making by the state.

The Congress has been practising vote-bank politics and minorityism for long. What began as an instrument of electoral mobilisation has now been taken a step forward. A competitive statement war has been unleashed among Congress ministers and their supporters to prove that each can outdo the other in accommodating so-called Muslim interests. If unchecked the attempt to create a special citizenship for Muslims will pave the way for a second Partition. The BJP will resist this dangerous drift with all the might at its command.

The Congress is playing havoc with Indian identity and nationalism. The UPA has made Muslim appeasement and vote bank politics the hallmark of its governance. The BJP National Council resolves to mobilise all nationalist Indians and defeat this assault on our nationhood.