‘BJP has worked towards ending vote bank politics’

A Union minister and an economist have co-authored a book tracing the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party
Union minister for environment, forest & climate change, labour & employment Bhupender Yadav. (PTI)
Union minister for environment, forest & climate change, labour & employment Bhupender Yadav. (PTI)
Updated on Jan 17, 2022 04:53 AM IST
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A Union minister and an economist have co-authored a book tracing the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party. In The Rise of the BJP, The Making of the Largest Political Party, Bhupender Yadav, Union minister for environment, forests and climate change and labour and employment along with Ila Patnaik, professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy document the origins of party, its journey from having two members in Parliament to becoming the single largest party that won back-to-back general elections.

In an interview, the authors speak about the growth of the political party that boasts of the largest membership base and its governance model.

Edited excerpts:

Q The first question that comes to mind is what brought the two of you together to author a book about the BJP.

BY: A In 2019, the two of us had a chat about the curiosity among people regarding the BJP and the need to document the party’s journey. We also discussed how it would be interesting to look at it both from the political and economic philosophy points of view. When a party is in power its governance model also reflects its economic policy. So we decided to write the book together.

IP: After the 2019 polls I had many questions about the role that the party and the government policies had played and what was the interaction. He was quite open in discussing how the party and the government had worked together to win the elections. I suggested he write a book and he agreed.

Q Your book gives details about the BJP’s social engineering in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. The recent exit of OBC leaders on the cusp of elections has created a perception that the BJP might have to work harder to retain the support of the castes that form the basis of this social engineering.

BY: A few incidents of people exiting the party fold during a larger political exercise do not indicate that the whole movement is under a cloud. If you look at the ticket distribution for the first few phases, the party has given preference to candidates who come from SC and OBC communities. BJP’s social justice formula does not pit one community against the other. It is genuinely the most inclusive system. We believe in empowering each individual to empower India. We work hard for all sections so that we do not have to indulge in tokenism and appeasement of any section.

Q Will the Dalits, traditionally considered a vote bank of the BSP, vote for the BJP?

BY: We will cross our tally of 2017. CM Yogi Adityanath has served all sections of society during the last five years. The way Yogiji has worked to give shape to PM Narendra Modi’s vision for UP’s growth by ensuring efficient delivery of people-centric schemes, especially the non-discriminatory way in which money reached the targeted beneficiaries through direct benefit transfer schemes and a corruption-free administration, will make sure people repose their faith in the party. I feel the BJP will greatly benefit from giving transparent governance, fair distribution and equal treatment. The BJP government has worked towards ending vote bank politics by ensuring development for all.

Q There has been criticism of some of the statements of the UP CM and there is a feeling that the party is increasingly opting for a narrative based on religious polarisation. Is the party unsure of how it will be measured on issues of governance?

BY: There is a tendency in some sections to brand the BJP as communal. We have been accused of it since the Jana Sangh days. The same sections don’t tell you that both Jana Sangh and BJP ran governments that worked for all sections. We continue to work for cultural nationalism. If you read the book many of these biases built around the BJP will be broken.

Q What about the delay in taking action against those who spoke at the Dharam Sansad and the allegation that the party is fostering Hindutva?

BY:I don’t respond to allegations. India is a functional democracy. The government works in a lawful manner for the benefit of all. Our institutions offer enough checks and balances to ensure nobody can take the law into their hands. Also, we ensure that people are not discriminated against based on their religious beliefs and practices. If someone breaks the law, he will be punished.

Q You have mentioned how the Congress was opposed to OBC reservation. There is a specific reference to what Rajiv Gandhi said in Parliament while opposing it. These days there is a demand for a caste-based census to further streamline the reservation policy, but the BJP is the only party that seems to be dithering on the issue. Why is the BJP non-committal?

BY: The BJP has always favoured samajik nyay (social justice) and samajik samarasta (social harmony). We believe that we should have a model of social governance where all sections of society find an equal space. And BJP has always worked for the upliftment and empowerment of the socially backwards and the most backward. Not only has the party helped mainstream them politically and socially but has also made them stakeholders in policy and governance.

Q This question is for Ms Patnaik. In a polity entrenched in caste, do you think schemes such as Jan Dhan and Free LPG have helped changed the political narrative?

IP: These schemes have reached out to everybody and instead of being based on region, class or caste. In the regions we saw many schemes, but this is the first time it was done at the national level in the spirit of reaching out to everybody in the country and bringing them and their standard of living to a common minimum level.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022