New Delhi: The withdrawal of the contentious farm laws last year was the right decision in the present context, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government will keep working to double farmers’ incomes, Union Minister of Labour and Employment, and of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav has said.
Yadav also asserted that the party’s anti-minority image is a myth that has been created, and that the BJP has always focussed on sabka saath sabka vikas (everyone’s support, everyone’s development) in its governance model.
Yadav and economist Ila Patnaik, professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, were discussing their new book, The Rise of the BJP: The Making of the World’s Largest Political Party, with ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on Off The Cuff. The book focusses on tracing the crests and troughs in the BJP’s journey, from its inception to becoming the most powerful political party in India.
Speaking about the book, Yadav said he and Patnaik had held discussions for more than 700 hours and included 250 references, not just from Right-wing intellectuals, but also from critics of the BJP.
“People wanted to know after 2019 how the BJP came to power for a second time. They wanted to know its decision-making mechanism, participatory mechanism, who were its leaders, what were its values. We wanted even an outsider to be intrigued to know about the BJP’s journey,” Yadav said, discussing the authors’ reasons for working on the book.
“The BJP was known to be a north Indian, urban people’s political party. It has become a mainstream party now. This is a journey about which people were curious to know, so we tried to write the book to do that,” he added.
On being asked whether finding acceptability had been the BJP’s biggest challenge in national politics, Yadav responded affirmatively, saying, “The BJP has fought against the conspiracy of being declared politically untouchable. We were painted as communal since Nehru ji’s time. We have tried to fill the gaps through our governance.”
On economic reforms
Comparing the economic reforms undertaken during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) governments, Patnaik said the NDA has been taking risks and moving forward, while the UPA would spend many hours on discussions.
“Economics is about both growth and redistribution. Any political party tries to balance between both growth and redistribution. If you tilt too much to one side, people think you are anti-poor and pro-rich, but if there is no growth, what are you going to redistribute?” she said.
“That’s the story that we have seen from the first NDA government till now, and how maintaining the balance needed to be learnt after ‘India Shining’, and the loss in elections,” she added, referring to the slogan deployed by the BJP emphasising economic optimism in the run-up to the 2004 general elections, in which it was defeated.
On farm laws, anti-minority image
On the BJP’s anti-minority image, Yadav said, “Goa is a largely minority-dominated state, Manipur and Arunachal too, but these have had BJP governments. Even in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, the BJP has been in coalition.”
“This myth has been created that the BJP is anti-minority. Having pride in our values and cultural nationalism is not against anyone, it is positive,” the minister said.
“I think the confusion among Muslims towards the BJP will end in the future, but it is clear that the BJP never differentiates against anyone in its governance model,” he added.
He also said the government’s agricultural reforms had been brought in after long, ongoing discussions, and some of the recommendations had also been given during earlier governments, “but sometimes a topic is seen in a different perspective. It is the right decision looking at the present context”.
“Many schemes in agricultural practices have been brought in, MSP (Minimum Support Price) has also been fixed. There has been a lot of work to fulfil the PM’s vision for farmers. The farm laws have been withdrawn, but the government will continue working in order to double the farmers’ income,” he said. The three contentious farm laws, introduced in 2020, had led to a year-long protest by farmers until they were withdrawn last year.
When asked about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s remark earlier this month that the upcoming state assembly polls would be an ‘80 per cent vs 20 per cent’ election — which opposition leaders have slammed as a reference to the ratio of Hindus to Muslims in the state — Yadav said that only he (Adityanath) could explain the context better.
“The use of language is very important in politics. The official version of the party is only what the prime minister or national president says,” he added.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)