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The Rediff Special / Anthony D'Costa/Dhiraj Shetty

April 16, 2004

At first sight, the Bharatiya Janata Party's web site looks rather amateurish.

Placed prominently are very boring mug shots of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and party president M Venkaiah Naidu. Certainly does not strike as a good way to attract young voters.

Clicking on the pictures will lead you to pages, which tell you more about these leaders.

The party's flag, address of its headquarters and election symbol are prominently displayed.

A little below, to the left, is a link to Advani's Bharat Uday Yatra, which is regularly updated. If you chose to check it out, do have a look at the photo gallery. The pictures are large and clear, though they might take some time to download.

Still below is a link to the list of BJP candidates for the polls followed by a mini site on the forthcoming election to the Lok Sabha and some state assemblies. The Bharat Uday Yatra presentation in the latter is cool. It also lists the party's candidates in each state and, interestingly, also Congress candidates!

To access some of the sections in the mini site, however, you have to register, which does not take much time. But we don't know if it is worth it because all it enables you is to give feedback.

The web site, unlike the brick-and-mortar party, gives prominence to only two leaders: Vajpayee and Advani. However, Naidu and party general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi seem to have got around this problem by hijacking the Party Programmes: Photo Gallery section.

Lower down, a News Flash spews out party press releases and the utterances of the BJP's top leaders.

A vertical menu bar on the left hand has links to pages that tell you about the party's history, its philosophy, leaders, its performance in Parliament and its views on major issues.

If any party has added colour to the Indian polity in recent times, it is the BJP. But click on the Party History link and you are told: The page cannot be found.

Either the party does not want visitors to be aware of its history, or the website administrator is not aware about it. Both ways, it reflects poorly on the party.

The Leadership link leads to a page, which lists the BJP's past and present president. Till some days back, it did not feature one rather infamous former president, Bangaru Laxman, but the page seems to have been updated recently with his rather stern looking photograph and bio-data. Though the caption on the picture says he is an MP, his name is not mentioned in the party's list of members of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha.

Checking the BJP's views on major issues was a revelation. The link to women's issues leads to an article by Union Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, written in 1995!!! Someone should tell the BJP that women have come a long way since then.

Also, couldn't help wonder what makes Joshi such an expert on women's issues that a nearly decade-old article is deemed untouchable by the web site's administrators.

Next we checked out Foreign Policy but was 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 its A, B, C, D and reached the letter P(eace).

Coming back to the main page, the party's 'Vision Document' shares the spotlight with the National Democratic Alliance's 'Agenda for Development, Good Governance and Peace' at the right hand side.

The site offers five screensavers of Vajpayee, conceptualised by party spokesman Prakash Javadekar. As they did not have a preview, we did not risk downloading them.

But those who like what they see can check out the link on How to join BJP.

External Link: Bharatiya Janata Party web site

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