Why Vajpayee failed in 2004 – Part 2

The middle class taught the BJP a lesson; the party lost heavily in urban areas.

Why Vajpayee failed in 2004?
Why Vajpayee failed in 2004?

Part 1 of this series can be ‘accessed ‘ here. This is Part 2.

The defeat of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in 2004 was the most shocking election result of this century. It did well on the economic front (as we saw in the ‘Vajpayee 1’ previous part). So, what happened?

Let’s begin with what didn’t happen. First, the first non-Congress to complete its terms was not defeated because the Muslims were angry and turned their back on the saffron party. This is the narrative peddled by Left-liberals. The facts were otherwise: Muslims didn’t vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party to power and didn’t vote against it to depose it.

Of all the barbaric acts, the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu at the fag-end of 1999 still haunts the BJP; its leaders are taunted even today on the subject

Second, the Vajpayee government didn’t lose because it embraced free-market economy. This is another Left-liberal lie. Sixty million jobs were created during 1999-2004. Such economic policies can’t be held responsible for any electoral setback.

There were two main reasons that cost the BJP dear in the 2004 polls. First, it had almost completely disregarded the interests of its core constituency—the middle class, especially the salaried people. While there was impressive employment generation, the millions of people already employed didn’t get much relief by way of changes in income-tax slabs. Yashwant Sinha, as finance minister, didn’t leave a lot of money in the pockets of employed persons. Worse, he did little to alleviate the sufferings of middle-class persons who were the main victims of the UTI scam.

The middle class taught the BJP a lesson; the party lost heavily in urban areas.

The BJP government under Vajpayee also failed to deliver on matters related to national defence and internal security. We will solve the Kashmir problem in a matter of days, if not hours, claimed Vajpayee, L. K. Advani, and other BJP luminaries before coming to power. The enemies of the nation will tremble when we come to power, they thundered.

But when they were in office, there was the hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft, which nonplussed the authorities and then goaded them to an abject surrender. Then there was an increasingly belligerent and stubborn Pakistan that was unrelenting in its support to Islamic terror in Kashmir and other parts of India. There was a massacre of 16 men of the Border Security Force by the border guards of piddling Bangladesh. There was an attack on Parliament. Outrage after outrage.

And what, pray, did the Vajpayee government do? It kept saying that ‘whosoever is behind the attack will not go unpunished’; and, of course, it ‘strongly condemned’ the ‘barbaric acts of violence’ regularly carried out by anti-national elements.

Of all the barbaric acts, the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu at the fag-end of 1999 still haunts the BJP; its leaders are taunted even today on the subject. It revealed a complete lack of concern for security. The plane was hijacked soon after it took off. The pilot somehow convinced the hijackers to let him land the craft at the Amritsar airport, where it remained for half an hour. No action was taken; nobody even thought it prudent to ground the plane there only. The hijackers then forced the pilot to take it to Dubai, from where it was flown to Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban.

Despite its failings, the Vajpayee government deserved another term. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen

Why was nothing done in Amritsar? Because there was the danger of the passengers and the crew coming in harm’s way, this was the official explanation. But, as K.P.S. Gill said in a television interview, the danger started as soon as the hijackers took over the plane. Besides, as expert after expert informed us, the danger increased as time passed; their frustration level, and therefore the chances of a massacre, went up. In fact, they did mortally wound a young honeymooner.

The real reason why no action was taken at Amritsar airport was the fear of casualties. What if the casualties mount, the powers-that-be wondered. What would be the “repercussions”? What would the media say? What would the high and mighty editors of English press, most of whom are of Left-libber persuasion anyway, say? Won’t this be called mindless adventurism? In the best traditions of appeasement, the government succumbed to the logic of caution and restraint, which was, in fact, the logic of pusillanimity.

Finally, the Vajpayee government agreed to an abject surrender. It decided to set free three hardcore terrorists, including Maulana Azhar Masood and Omar Sheikh; they were not only freed, external affairs minister Jaswant Singh accompanied them in a plane to Kandahar. It was Masood’s men who attacked the legislative building in Srinagar. Omar Sheikh, a British-born terrorist, later kidnapped and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

It may be argued that Vajpayee was courageous enough to okay Pokhran II. That may be true but was he wise too? I have my doubts, for nuclearization of India and, soon after Pakistan, proved to be a leveller: the edge that India, being a bigger country with a bigger army, had over Pakistan in conventional warfare was lost. This might have actually further emboldened Islamabad to become even bolder and brazen in its export of terror.

Despite its failings, the Vajpayee government deserved another term. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen

1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Ravi Shanker Kapoor
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  1. The success of the Vajpayee govt was many despite coalition hurdles. But one factor which cost them heavily was the Bangaru Laxman issue which took away the votes of urban voters. Plus the negative campaign launched vide Graham stanes issue fake rape cases of nuns etc!!

  2. Only one reason:
    Treasury was empty when Vajpayeeji became PM.
    Vajpayeeji filled up treasury by selling off profit making PSUs like Airports
    MMS used this filled treasury to enjoy 10 years

  3. It is time to puncture this manufactured halo around Vajpayee.

    Vajpayee was CERtainly no Chatrapathi Ssivaji. Period.

    Read what Subramanian Swamy has to say about Vajpayee.

    NDA had to hand over the terrorists . Let us not forget what happened during congress regime.
    In that FAKE abduction of mufti md’s daughter JKLF militants in prison got released.
    NDA initially was willing to sacrifice all the passengers as they were all aam janata. Be it any party in power politicians always follow quid pro quo.

    It is a cruel joke bjp supporters always like to compare themselves with ISRAEL. They were talking along those lines ” How about a Commando operation as Israel …Entebbe…”

    Veerappan the notorious deadly Elephants killer & slayer of many Forest Officials had the support of many politicians in high places. Including sm.krishna , dmk’s karunanidi & many more. This was an open secret. YET , many were fond of chipping in with ” How about enlisting Israeli Commandos….& do one Entebbe….”.

    Brahma Chellaneys were telling on tv ” Those tyres should have been shot at in Amritsar…”
    Rajiv Shukla ( who subsequently joined congress) was a zee tv reporter then. He said ” why did the government keep the terrorists ALIVE in the prison…feeding them regularly sumptuous biryani etc etc..”

    I read maulana Azad masoor was even conducting ” healing” charades within the prison thus winning over many inmates. The Sleuths who capyured him said :-

    ” He was so tough & strong we had great difficulty in wrestling & pinning him down”.

    Our Sleuths must be mightly demoralized. They risk their own lives & apprehend criminals , Gorement of India has the notorious laid back ” let the law take its own course” attitude. We know the rest.

    The motive of the leftists – brinda karats etc was to find fault with vajpayee & Advani. However by default it is they who ensured the passengers did not die. It is brinda karats who brought the instance of JKLF militants & muftys being pampered. vajpayee like all the politicians did not want to lose his vote bank. Hence they were released.

    In a tv discussion sushma swaraj had the temerity to blame the relatives of the passengers. As they are mostly Hindus. It is only Hindus who have to ”sacrifice adjust compromise ” according to the secular politicians.

    If so why is she giving top priority to parting with huge amount of ransom money & rescuing Indian christian padres from various Islamic countries ? Christian padres have no business to ”convert” evangelize Muslims in their own countries.

    Please watch Hollywood movie ” The Quiet Man” ( Brendon Fraser & Michael Caine). Often it is the ”doctors” ” aid agencies” ( all christians) who engineer bomb blasts conveniently blaming the non christian Natives.

    Vajpayee the alcoholic cum glutton got so inebriaated with his own useless shayree went around hugging Mullah after Mullah. Same sab ka saath sab ka vikas syndrome. Goan christians fell in love with him as he was one hell of a christian appeaser too.

    Svami Dayananda said without mincing words:- ” vajpayee & advani lack even the basic vertebrae needed ” . As christian americans as is their wont were screaming ” lack of religious freedom for christians….christians are being persecuted…”.

    EVIL prannoy roys , barkha dutts ( slurdesais , barkha dutts etc all worked under prannoy roy ) slurdesais , shekar guptas , jayanti natarajans , brinda karats , yechurys etc were permanent fixtures on tv then including bbc. javed akthars , shekar guptas & bollykolly SLUT kushboo included were the ”judges”.

    YET , despite winning by a clear majority BJP of Modi has once again decided to betray Hindus.
    His invitees included javed akthars shabana azmis …..

    ”hajkasaath churchkavikas” is bjp’s motto .

  4. The Pokhran II was indeed a revealing decision of Atal ji, that Pakistan was exposed without its knowledge that, it too was preparing a nuclear bomb and was being helped by the Americans clandestinely. Though, the World powers be imposed sanctions on India, they were forced to impose the same sanctions on Pakistan too. Because of Atal ji, we were able to overcome the sanctions and progress well. But Pakistan is still not able to get out of that mess and are now got into a quagmire, by undertaking CPEC. It’s anybody’s guess, that China will swallow Pakistan sooner than later. India should be ready to keep that rogue China in an engaged situation in the eastern front as long as possible.


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