April 14, 2004

Indian political parties on the Net

Welcome to the official site of… Advani

Bharatiya Janata Party
The introductory line on the party’s web site says, ‘Welcome to the Official Web Site of the Bharatiya Janata Party.’ It should have read, ‘Welcome to the official web site of Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.’
Placed prominently on the site are very boring mug shots of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and Bharatiya Janata Party President M Venkaiah Naidu. Not good enough to inspire the nation’s youth to vote for the party, one would think.
The link to Advani’s Bharat Uday Yatra is well updated.
On the 24th day of the Yatra in Kanpur April 5, the web site informs us, Advani stated, ‘Judging from the response to the Yatra in UP, I am convinced that the BJP tally in the general election will rise significantly.’
The ‘News Flash’ section, when checked out, had six out of 10 headlines dedicated to Advani and the Yatra.
The party ‘Philosophy’ link takes you to two sub-sections: Integral humanism and Hindutva.
The ‘Leadership’ link has profiles of seven leaders, including former party president Bangaru Laxman, who had faced bribery charges.
In ‘BJP on major issues,’ I thought it would be interesting to check out foreign policy. I was left disappointed. It mentioned nothing about the latest moves for peace with Pakistan or the blow hot, blow cold relations with the United States. The article, by Dr Saradindu Mukherji, a Reader with Delhi University, was obviously written long before the party started reciting it’s A, B, C, D and reached the letter P(eace).
For some strange reason, the ‘History’ link was dead.
The party’s ‘Manifesto’ is, it seems, remains unchanged from the one released in 1998 and the National Democratic Alliance’s manifesto released in 1999. Or probably, the ‘Vision Document’ overwrites it.
The ‘Press Archive’ section has press releases dominated by news about Advani again.
The web site has five screensavers of Vajpayee, conceptualized by party spokesman Prakash Javadekar. As they did not have a preview, I did not risk downloading them.
‘How to join BJP’ informs us that the primary membership fee is Rs 5.
Rating: Six stars out of 10.

Largest democratic party in the world!
Indian National Congress

The Indian National Congress party web site claims it is the largest democratic party in the world. ‘The party that brought India to the 21st century; the party that built modern India; the party of the freedom movement,’ it screams.
Among the buttons on top after you pass the first page, is one dedicated to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Strangely, there is no button for Indira Gandhi.
Prominent on the website sections are photographs of party President Sonia Gandhi.
Also prominent on the web site is a link to Sam Pitroda, who had worked with Rajiv Gandhi 20 years ago. ‘Two decades later, it is time for me to repay a personal debt to a friend who was so generous with his time, goodwill and support, a friend who gave new meaning to my life,’ Pitroda states.
The ‘Documents’ link has a charge sheet against the Vajpayee government: A saga of sins, scams and shame.
Dominating the ‘Posters’ section is, of course, Sonia, in Namaste, Mona Lisa and Leader of the People poses.
The Congress too has a membership form button, which for some strange reason, it calls ‘Congress Network of Friends.’
The website has a link, in the Press Comments section, to The Asian Age editorial on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘colourful’ political vocabulary.
Surprisingly, the web site has not (yet) plugged the younger Gandhis: Rahul and Priyanka. The only mention of Rahul we noticed was in the Press Comments section.
The homepage has a prominent link to a transcript of Gandhi’s Walk The Talk with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta.
Read it if you missed it on NDTV.
Six stars out of 10.

Naidu is Jesus Christ?

Telugu Desam Party

Not a very interesting homepage to look at, probably due to the use of English and Telugu fonts.
The site starts off with a link to its founder N T Rama Rao. The ‘Birth’ and ‘Education’ sub links are ‘Coming Soon,’ but the ‘Life of Silver Screen’ has some interesting insights on NTR, like: ‘Because he could not afford the bus fare, Rama Rao used to walk long distances to meet prospective directors in search of roles. A proud man, he never liked to borrow, even from his best friends.’
Another gem: ‘He did not seem to know what ‘star tantrums’ were either. In an industry notorious for complex man-woman relationships, he was rarely linked with any of his heroines; well, almost.’
The ‘Born’ section, in a profile on party President N Chandrababu Naidu, starts off very pompously, stating: ‘Lady, behold, the boy born to you is on commoner. He is the prince among men, come to change our World.’
-- The Three Magi, on the birth of Jesus Christ.
Is the web site saying Naidu is a modern day Jesus Christ?!
The ‘IT-Revolutionary’ subsection in the profile has two photographs of Naidu with former United States President Bill Clinton and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates!
This party certainly has vision. In a ‘Developments link, there is a Vision 2020 subsection. It has a Naidu quote: ‘Our vision of Andhra Pradesh is a state where poverty is totally eradicated; where every man, woman and child has access to not just the basic minimum needs, but to all the opportunities to lead a happy and fulfilling life; a knowledge and learning society built on the values of hard work, honesty, discipline and a collective sense of purpose.’
The ‘Events’ section was last updated in 2000. Does not reflect well on the TDP.
The party web site has a detailed ‘Information’ section, with all the state’s chief ministers, governors and Speakers listed, besides the Lok Sabha Speakers, Supreme Court judges, chief election commissioners and the states’ assembly seats. However, the chief election commissioners’ list had J M Lyngdoh listed as ‘continuing,’ with no takeover date.
On top, the web site has links to donation forms, separate for non-resident Indians (I am NRI) and ‘I am an Indian (Living in India).’
And, finally, the web site does have the party’s latest 2004 manifesto. A 33-slide manifesto!
Five stars out of 10.

Closed letter to Sonia!

Nationalist Congress Party
The party better update its site quickly, or at least pull out its ‘Letter to Sonia Gandhi,’ which was obviously uploaded when all was not well between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. With the proximity it has to the Congress now, post-P A Sangma, it could prove to be an embarrassment.
The homepage has a map of India with photographs of party leader Sharad Pawar, general secretary Tariq Anwar and treasurer and spokesperson Praful Patel displayed with equal importance.
But, when you click on any link, a clock bounces around the page. Pretty irritating.

Jai Maharashtra!

Shiv Sena

Holding center stage is a photograph of party leader Balasaheb Thackeray. Just below it are the words, Jai Maharashtra (in Marathi, of course)!
Most links are in Marathi, very much in keeping with the party’s ideology. But they take you to pages in English.
The only English on the homepage are the links to Breaking News and Archives sections.
The first has an item on Thackeray saying he is proud to be on Pakistan’s hit list! It says, ‘Shiv Sena chief Hindu Hriday Samrat Shri Balasaheb Thackeray… prefers combating Pakistan to watching the Indo-Pak cricket matches.’
Dismissing the euphoria over improved (or improving) ties with Pakistan, Thackeray says, ‘Love can change the world. But love cannot change an enemy like Pakistan.’
The archives section’s latest news item, dated February 27, quotes Thackeray as appealing to all Hindus to keep linguistic differences aside and unite to fight the growing threat of Islam.

Ticker tock!

Asom Gana Parishad

Very unimpressive web site. The only impressive part about it is the news ticker at the top, though the news it displayed was not earth shattering.
The Election Manifesto is in a point size so small one will need two magnifying glasses to read it.
If you have at any time wondered what the party flag is all about, the web site explains: The red colour stands for struggle and change, the white colour for responsibility towards creating and practicing a clean public life, apart from depicting peace, and the blue colour stands for a ground for struggle, apart from depicting unity among different ethnic communities of the state. The elephant on the other hand is a symbol of people’s unity and strength, devotion towards duty, stability, foresight and an indomitable spirit.
For some inexplicable reason, most links have information in English, except for the party president’s message. If you want to know what Brindanban Goswami has to say, you will have to know Assamese.
Two stars out of 10.

(The sites were checked out on April 5)