Today is Kargil Vijay Diwas, a day that the nation can never forget. It is worthwhile to remind people of this incident, which happened only a few days ago.
A chapter on the Kargil war, which disappeared from college textbook in Madhya Pradesh. Bear in mind that the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh is barely 6 months old. And the way the numbers are in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the government might not last another 6 months.
The government of Madhya Pradesh may not have fulfilled any of its big promises : much of the farm loan waiver turned out to be a farce, the promise of Rs 10,000 per month to unemployed youth for 3 years was turned into a mockery where a few people were given Rs 4000 for about 3 months. And the state is facing Communist grade power cuts for the first time in almost a decade. But the Congress government, though struggling to stay afloat, though devastated in Lok Sabha elections, has not forgotten its core and its core agenda.
The Congress never saw the Kargil War nor the Kargil victory as something that belongs to all of us. And they never forgot that.
The Congress government in Rajasthan next door is none too comfortable either. Like in Madhya Pradesh, they were devastated in Lok Sabha elections, bogged down by bitter factional fights. But among all this, the Congress has found time to rewrite textbooks and remembered to pull Veer Savarkar down a peg.
And who does not remember the ruthlessness of the Sonia Gandhi led UPA the moment it took power in 2004? Within a month or two, Veer Savarkar’s plaque was removed from the Cellular Jail in the Andamans.
This is starkly different from the approach of the BJP government at the center, despite its two successive muscular majorities. Most infamously, then HRD Minister “boasted” in 2018 about not rewriting a single history chapter in four years!
True, there have been some small changes. Such as restructuring the Nehru Memorial Museum to include the history of all of India’s former Prime Ministers. But these have been few and far between.
This is not a contest to see which party can be more petty in tearing down the icons on the other side. This is to point out a gap in the rate of delivery between the two sides when it comes to core agendas. The Modi government has missed (and is still missing) numerous opportunities to bring in a law for the construction of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.
Why does this happen?
One simple explanation is that the BJP is just not used to being in power. When in power, it acts way too apologetic and tries way too hard to walk a middle path. Now this is not bad in itself. Three to four generations of Congress Prime Ministers could not give India 100% rural electrification, but just look at the way Modi delivered on toilets, on gas, on electricity.
The Congress on the other hand knows much more about being in power. They know the value of every single minute spent at the helm of things and how to utilize it to strengthen their grip.
However, there is no argument that delivering on core agendas could possibly get in the way of supplying clean water or building homes for the poor. Especially when so much can be done simply by picking the low hanging fruit. The Supreme Court judgement that Aligarh Muslim University cannot be a minority institution came decades ago. It would be a relatively simple matter to just enforce that, for instance.
The other difference is with the core voter of the respective parties. The BJP’s core voter is the average Hindu. They are slowly beginning to get restless, but they are definitely more patient and more accommodating that that of other parties. But the real gap comes from the fact the BJP’s core voter, even if restless, is essentially trapped with nowhere to go.
An all new party, further to the Hindu right than the BJP, is for the most part, a pipe dream in the short term.
The only hope for the BJP’s core voter comes from the clear shift towards the right in Indian politics as a whole and the pressure this would create on the BJP. Only those who remember how hard Vajpayee had to fight to get POTA passed would recognize how much easier things have become now. The UPA scrapped POTA the moment it came to power. Compare this to the NIA Amendment Bill, which passed the Rajya Sabha unanimously the other day.
Like the Kargil War, the problem of terrorism should never be seen through a partisan lens. But the reality of India’s hypocritical secular establishment is that it has always been seen as such. Remember when it was reported that India’s supreme leader had burst into tears on hearing of the Batla House encounter? That’s how bad things used to be. At least those days are behind us.
Remember the days of changing affidavits in Ishrat Jahan case? At least that’s not happening any more.
So what do we have for the BJP’s core voter? An assurance that things are at least not as bad as they used to be. And a hope that things will get better. Very very slowly.