A LONG TERM PLAN

While visiting the famine stricken Bengal, Jawaharlal Nehru declared in Calcutta that in free India those who profit from black markets would be hung from a light post. It was not a rhetoric. It was the genuine expression of his feelings. But as Prime Minister of India Nehru presided over a government that among many other things not only thrived but spread black market throughout the country. Therefore, saying something great and grand may create high hopes and great impressions at a given moment but making it happen is another matter. When it comes to a country like India making a move in any direction it requires millions of hands and hearts working in a synchronized manner.

Right now, Narendra Modi and his Party are trying to give a new direction to India. They want to saffronize the country. In schools from Elementary to High they want the curriculum to reflect Hindutva. Secularism and equal treatment of all religions become a thing of the past. Educational institutions breed dissent. Through Vidyarty Mandals in colleges it is trying to prevent spreading ideas and actions that do not follow the BJP guide. Artists and writers who do not agree with the Hindutva mindset are harassed. More often than not the harassment gets out of hand and takes an ugly turn.

Because of its electoral victory in the recent elections BJP has gained new confidence. In a deliberate way it is trying to mold India in its own image. It is emboldened to do so. A new breed of activists seem to be more aggressive and determined to put forward the agenda of the Party. They are also ardent followers of Narendra Modi. On his part, Modi has earned his brownies by giving the Party its repeated success. The Party is in Power in 13 of India's 29 states. Not long ago, in its earlier incarnation as Jana Sangh it used to have only one member in the Parliament. Today, it is the majority there.

From the beginning BJP has remained a Party of the Upper casts. Its Hindutva slogan reinforces the anachronism of caste and communal feelings. However, it is the Party that wields power now. Therefore, it has to represent all of the people in the country. It is natural that BJP must start the process to do so. It is inconveniently making an effort to reach out to Muslims and lower castes not because it wants to but because as voters they deserve its attention. At the same time it is putting forward programs at state levels which could be consequential.

For example, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has declared that all liquor shops around 5 kilometers on either side of the Narmada River would be closed. Eventually, such a program also will be applied to both sides of the Tapti River. Needless to say, both Tapti and Narmada pass through many tribal areas where alcohol use is rampant. The alcohol used by the tribal folks is mostly locally made and locally used. Should government close the shops, the people would find illicit ways to manufacture drinks. Those who live in the basins of Narmada and Tapti need economic improvement and social uplift- education, employment, health care. If those who live in cities can order drinks, then why not those by the rivers? Is it a subtle way of drawing the tribal folks into a pious "Arya" life?

In the same way, Adityanath, the new Chief Minister of UP has ordered all of the illegal slaughter houses to close. As it is, killing of a cow has remained a crime. Under the new government the punishment could be more severe. Similarly, some time ago when Uma Bharati became the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh she banned the cow slaughter throughout the state. Now that BJP rules the Center, its state governments can capitalize on the Party's reach. They can designate areas as dry or as free from consumption of meat. This way the Party can place its foot print on India's culture and life style that will last for a long time.


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