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Previous Manifestos

Chapter 19

Accessibility

Towards a New Culture of National Consensus

and Responsible Citizenry

CONSENSUS-building is an essential part of nation-building. Cooperation for the larger good of the nation has been a cornerstone of our civilization. Yet, one of the many baneful contributions of the Congress party to India's post-Independence polity has been the politics of confrontation and negativism. The BJP believes that, in a multi-party democracy likes ours, constructive dialogue, consultation and cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties is, not only desirable, but essential. It has become all the more necessary since several major national issues confronting India today cannot be effectively addressed without evolving a broad platform of national consensus.

Some of the issues where such a national consensus is most urgently called for are: electoral reforms; Centre-State relations; population policy; empowerment of women by legislating 33 per cent reservation for them in all elected bodies; inter-state water disputes; environmental protection; and effective institutional guarantees for the welfare of the weaker sections of society in the course of economic reforms.

Specifically, our Party and Government shall do the following:

1. We shall not practice "political untouchability" vis-a-vis any party;

2. In all issues of national importance where a national consensus is needed, we shall adopt a policy of dialogue and consultation with other political parties;

3. The consultative mechanisms and procedures in Parliament, towards which the Congress party always had a casual or contemptuous attitude, will be revived; and,

4. We shall actively seek the views, suggestions and, wherever feasible, participation of citizens and organizations outside the sphere of politics.

An equally important dimension of democracy and nation-building, which the Congress party totally neglected in the past five decades, is the need to build a responsible citizenry. Democracy is not only about rights, but also about responsibilities and duties. However, since the rulers themselves threw their responsibilities to the winds and turned Statecraft into crass commerce and politics into an unscrupulous power game, the average Indian naturally became cynical about politics. His awareness about his responsibilities as a citizen weakened and, to that extent, his conscious contribution to nation-building also diminished.

As the adage "Raja kaalasya kaaranam" (The ruler is responsible for the times) reminds us, the blame for this sad of State of affairs rests with the Raja and not the Praja. The BJP pledges that, when it is in power, the people will see a qualitative change in the culture of governance. There will be a marked change in the mindset and behavior of those in Government. Their duties and responsibilities will take precedence over their perquisites.

Though such a change in the culture and content of governance is the first pre-requisite for building a New India, it alone is not enough. A change in the mindset and behavior of citizens in their daily lives is also equally necessary for building a strong, prosperous and proud nation. On the occasion of the Swarna Jayanti of our Independence, therefore, the BJP makes the following appeal to every Indian to inculcate the spirit of the Freedom Movement:

1. "We, the people of India, shall not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, class, gender, language, or region in any of our actions and decisions in life. Instead, we shall behave with all our compatriots in the belief that we all are equal children of Bharat Mata."

2. "We, the people of India, in whichever profession or vocation we are in, shall work with honesty, dedication and discipline in the spirit of a New Work Culture."

3. "We, the people of India, shall always give priority to our patriotic duties and responsibilities over narrow self-interest, even as we zealously strive for the realization of our rights enshrined in the Constitution."

Some of the issues where a national consensus is most urgently called for are: electoral reforms; Centre-State relations; population policy; empowerment of women by legislating 33 per cent reservation for them in all elected bodies; inter-state water disputes; environmental protection; and effective institutional guarantees for the welfare of the weaker sections of society in the course of economic reforms.