Differences between the INC & the BJP
Functional democracy was set alive in India in the year of 1947 when India got freedom from The British rule and was added to the list of sovereign democratic countries of the world. With passage of time democracy in India blossomed into a multiparty federal structure. Today India is considered the most successful and largest functional democracy in the world, with spontaneous participation by largest number of political parties in the world. The Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are the biggest of all the parties in terms of support base and vote share. It would be well to remember that during the long rule of Mughal emperors, and for the better part of British rule, India was a concept of aggregate of a number of princely states, divided linguistically, and often many of them at loggerheads with one another, but sharing a common religious and cultural heritage. Hindu cultural chauvinism was blatantly dominant, and the feeling of being oppressed by Muslim and Christian rulers worked as the back-of-the-mind sentiment for generations of Indians. Thirdly the partition of the nation on purely religious line inflicted a deep wound into the social psyche of Indian populace. These three factors played very significant roles in shaping the ideological, social, and political manifesto of the two major parties. It goes without saying that both INC and BJP draw their political nutrients from the undisputed hegemony of Hindu ethos.
Major differences between the two
The major differences between INC and BJP can be discussed under the following contexts;
1. History & evolution: Indian National Congress was formed by a British civil servant named Alan Octavian Hume in 1885 primarily as a conglomeration of elitist people and organisations. Womesh Chandra Bonerjee , a wealthy native of Bengal was the first elected president of the party. In the initial years after its foundation, the party functioned as a platform for the upper-middle class society to forge a better understanding with the British government and grow up as English educated class supportive to the system under British rule. Bonhomie between Congress leaders and British officers was a common place. At the same time their pro-nation activities included some political demands like participation in provincial elections, abolishing some taxes, and implementation of ‘home rule’.
The relatively radical faces of the INC led by B.G. Tilak a highly educated native of Maharashtra, disillusioned with the functioning of the party raised the demand for complete independence from the British rule. Gradually the demand became louder with Congress rank and file following the Tilak doctrine, and party membership swelled. In the coming years, a new branch of young nationalists led by M. K. Gandhi took to non-cooperative and non-violent movement to oust the British conquerors. Eventually the INC under premiership of Gandhi became synonymous with India’s independence movement driven by the dual concept of nationalism and non-violence. This very idea of non-violence as political weapon was later used by Nelson Mandela of South Africa in his fight against apartheid.
The BJP on the other hand was founded by an illustrious Bengali, named Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in the 40s when it was BJS (Bharatiya Jana Sangh), as an affiliate member of the Sangh Paribar, an umbrella organisation of pro-Hindu groups led by RSS. Hegemony of Hindu nationalism is the core value RSS ideology, and being a regimented organisation as RSS is no affiliate member can dare to dispute this ideology. As such BJP is more regimented party in comparison to Congress and committed to Hindu causes and aspirations.
2. Political view: INC believes in applied socialism and secularism that satisfy all sections and subsections of the society. The party favours a fusion of capitalism and socialism, and secularism is at the nucleus of the party’s political ideology. The party does not promote or encourage any state sponsored religious activity and favouritism.
BJP believes in a sovereign Hindu state as the ultimate political identity of the nation. Politically the party is more nationalistic than socialistic. The party hugely depends upon Hindu vote bank to carry on its pro-Hindu agenda. The party promotes state sponsorship of Hindu religious practices.
3. Economic view: The greatest stalwart of INC, and icon of India’s independence movement, M. K. Gandhi envisaged a village centric, agriculture based economic system with little space for industrialisation & international trade. But the party under the premiership of J. L. Nehru opted for a Soviet Union type industrial model with co-habitation of state and private ownership. In more recent times, with emergence of globalisation and market based economy, the party reformed itself and started to take more pro-market stance, subject to electoral constraints.
BJP on the other hand favours a capitalistic system of economy. The party never aligned itself with Soviet Union rather it favours a western capitalistic model.
4. Social view: The INC, right from its inception harbours more liberal views as regards caste, religion, and important issues like women’s liberation. The party has shown great degree of flexibility when it comes to accepting globally acknowledged liberal social views.
BJP on the other hand, holds more conservative social views as regards women’s emancipation vis-a-vis role of women in the society. Ironically the party does not differentiate between Hindus and non-Hindus in deciding upon limits to women’s freedom. Also the party falls short in reforming itself to catch-up with some globally accepted liberal social norms. On this count the INC seems much ahead of the BJP.
(i) INC was formed and evolved as a counter force to British rule, and was the driving force behind India’s independence movement. BJP was formed to upheld Hindu nationalist sentiment, and evolved in the line of non-tolerance to non-Hindu thoughts and ideas.
(ii) INC nurtures a socialistic ideology, where as BJP emphasises on religion based nationalism.
(iii) INC is more liberal as regards social and cultural issues, where as BJP is more conservative and regimented.
(iv) INC favours socialism as economic system, where as BJP encourages a capitalistic system.
1. Bharatiya Janata Party, a party with difference, available at www.bjp.org
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