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BJP pours water over Hindutva

With the Ram temple or Hindutva no longer attracting votes, the BJP is going back to basics.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2009 14:31 IST
Shekhar Iyer

With the Ram temple or Hindutva no longer attracting votes, the BJP is going back to basics.

The party — which wants to show it cares as much about people as it does about religious issues — is promising to make clean drinking water a fundamental right. On Tuesday, its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani spent over two hours with water experts at his home. After hearing what they had to say, he declared that if voted to power, the BJP-led NDA would make the right to clean drinking water a fundamental right under the Constitution. He also said he wasn’t averse to the idea of a constitutional guarantee of at least 20-25 litres of water per person per day, as is the practice in South Africa.

Advani was told that in Delhi, while Lutyens zone gets 34 buckets (550 litres) of water per capita daily, people in outlying areas don’t even get 25 litres.

Seconding Advani, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj add-ed: “If we come to power, we will redress that situation and focus on quality, quantity and delivery of drinking water on a priority basis.”

Advani agreed with the experts’ view that governments wouldn’t normally act in a determined manner unless clean water is made a fundamental right. Also, he wanted water conservation to be made a fundamental duty of all citizens under the statute.

Swaraj said Advani had pledged to create a Water and Sanitation Mission under the prime minister, which would deal with issues like arsenic poisoning, salinity, high fluoride content and recycling of sewage water. He would soon be talking to experts from other areas like urban renewal, health and welfare to decide on the BJP’s agenda, she said.

Last Saturday, acting on another issue close to people, Advani held discussions with security experts to arrive at measures to make Indians feel secure at home and on the streets.

Critique on highways
In a related move to make development a poll agenda, the BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad released a critique on the state of national highways under the UPA. He called Transport Minister T.R. Baalu a “whimsical minister who has demoralised the National Highway Authority of India” by frequent transfer of its chairmen, chronic delays, adhocism and by allowing “extraneous forces” to undo what the NDA had achieved.

The BJP intends to run at least one critique at regular intervals on the state of infrastructure under the UPA till the elections.