Strengthening Democracy's Pillars
THE strength of a democracy is directly proportionate to the strength of the three pillars on which it rests--the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Five decades of misrule and misuse of these institutions has eroded their strength. Corruption at the highest levels of the Executive has corroded people's faith in Government. The Congress and UF Governments' inability to take firm decisions and make tough choices, apart from their failure to confront disruptive forces, has weakened the authority of the Indian State. Over-centralization of power at the Centre and unbalanced models of development have led to Centre-State friction. Abuse of constitutional provisions like Article 356 and the misuse of Raj Bhavans as extension counters of the ruling party at the Centre have defiled the sanctity of the country's Constitution.
The BJP will earnestly set itself to the task of strengthening these institutions of the Republic through an agenda of reform and rejuvenation. The primary task is to restore to the State-and thus to Government-its honour and prestige. The BJP will thus restore to Government its moral authority to rule. We propose to undertake the following agenda for rejuvenation:
1. The BJP will appoint a Commission to comprehensively review the Constitution of India, in the light of the experience of the past 50 years and make suitable recommendations. The Commission will comprise constitutional experts and eminent parliamentarians.
2. The BJP is committed to take necessary steps to prevent misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution.
3. The BJP will carve out Uttaranchal, Vananchal, Vidarbha and Chhattisgarh as separate States. Delhi will be given full Statehood.
4. The BJP will provide all three regions of Jammu and Kashmir--Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh-with regional development councils.
5. The BJP will abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution.
THE BJP, which has been singularly championing the cause of electoral reforms since the days of the Jana Sangh, believes that one of the principal causes of corruption and corrosion of our polity is our faulty election process. The BJP will, immediately on assuming office, introduce a comprehensive Electoral Reforms Bill, much of the groundwork for which has already been done but not acted upon. To ensure free, fair and fearless elections and to prevent the use of money power and muscle power, the BJP will:
1. Update and adopt the Goswami Committee Report;
2. Consider introducing a scheme for State-funding of election expenses incurred by all recognized parties;
3. Undertake immediate delimitation of Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies;
4. Make it mandatory for parties to submit audited accounts for public scrutiny;
5. Examine the feasibility of introducing the list system or a mixed system of elections;
6. Undertake the process of issuing multi-purpose identity cards to all citizens and make it a mandatory requirement for voting.
THE Judiciary is one of the watchdogs in a democracy and in recent times has played an important role in pursuing cases of corruption and abuse of public office. But the Judiciary faces problems that need to be addressed and solved in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. For speedy, fair and inexpensive justice, the BJP will:
1. Fill vacancies in high courts and the Supreme Court without any delay;
2. Appoint special judges to clear the huge arrears at all levels of the judiciary;
3. Legislate to the effect that cases are heard on a day-to-day basis and not held up by inordinate adjournments;
4. Expand and strengthen the existing legal aid facilities for weaker sections of society; and,
5. Set up a National Judicial Commission which will recommend judicial appointments in the High Courts and the Supreme Court and draw up a code of ethics for judges.
Reforms in the Law and Order Machinery
THE security of each citizen is of utmost concern for the BJP, which is committed to a riot-free and terrorism-free India. Whether on the streets or at home, every Indian must feel safe and protected from violence in any form. The BJP will squarely and purposefully address the deteriorating law and order scenario in various parts of the country. The BJP will:
1. Forthrightly meet all challenges to the State and its citizens by terrorists and extremists. Our approach will be firm but always fair;
2. Enact a suitable law to tackle terrorism while ensuring that there are no loopholes for its misuse;
3. Provide timely assistance to State Governments to maintain law and order by supplementing local police forces with adequate central forces;
4. Equip police with modern arms and communication facilities;
5. Seek immediate reports from State Governments on incidents of police firing and monitor follow-up action, especially in fixing of responsibility if the firing was unprovoked or uncalled for;
6. Hold district officers squarely accountable for mismanagement of public order and take prompt action in light of findings of time-bound inquiries;
7. Ensure that complaints by citizens do not go unattended;
8. Improve the intelligence-gathering mechanism at all levels to tackle mischief-makers before they can act and keep State Governments posted about all intelligence gathered on a day-to-day basis;
9. Launch a nationwide drive to identify the influx of illicit arms and their possession. Proliferation of small arms directly affects law and order and the nation's security;
10. Crack down on narcotics smuggling which is linked to narco-terrorism and drug-usage. Existing law in this regard will be made more effective and implemented;
11. Rationalize the number, structure, composition and role of paramilitary and special forces like the National Security, the Special Protection Group and the Rapid Action Force; and,
12. Review VIP security arrangements so that they are neither exaggerated nor intrusive. We will ensure that VIP security arrangements do not affect the collective convenience of the citizens.
THE BJP believes that despite reduction in the traditional regulatory role of the bureaucracy, it will remain vital to the provision of a just and progressive administration; efficient delivery of services to the people; and, implementation of socio-economic development programmes. We will strive to re-inculcate in the public service the spirit of service to the common people. Public servants at all levels will be given due support and trust. In turn, they will be held fully accountable for efficiency, probity and integrity. To usher in a responsive and responsible administration, the BJP will:
1. Ensure objectivity and fairness in recruitment, promotions and transfers.
2. Introduce suitable minimum tenures for officers manning such posts as secretaries to the Government, chief secretaries, DGPs and district officers;
3. Deny extension to officers after superannuation or upon completing their fixed tenures;
4. Give protection to public servants in the discharge of their duties and disallow interference from extraneous quarters;
5. Undertake reforms in district administration, police and other organizations interfacing with the people, with emphasis on responsiveness and accountability;
6. Avoid proliferation of bureaucracy by meeting new requirements, to the extent possible, through redeployment and training of existing staff;
7. Give wide publicity to rights of citizens and the services and facilities to which they are entitled;
8. Provide speedy redressal of individual and community grievances;
9. Withdraw Government from areas of unnecessary intervention;
10. Enhance skills and efficiency of public servants through special training programmes;
11. Infuse talent through lateral entry of personnel;
12. Ensure speedy resolution of anomalies in implementing the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission and strengthen arrangements for employees' welfare and housing;
13. Raise the retirement age of Government employees from 58 to 60 as per the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission;
14. Increase skills and efficiency of public servants by training programmes; infusion of talent will also be secured by lateral entry of people from the private sector, NGOs and educational and research institutions.
Restructuring of Centre-State Relations
THE present iniquitous Centre-State relations not only tend to erode the autonomy of the States and jeopardize their rightful and legitimate role in our federal polity, but also impinge on their financial capabilities and operational flexibility. To make Centre-State relations more harmonious and in keeping with the spirit of a federal polity, the BJP will:
1. Immediately implement the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission;
2. Consult State Governments before appointing Governors and consider ways and means of preventing misuse of Raj Bhavans for political purposes;
3. Increase allocation of resources to the States in real terms. This, coupled with greater functional autonomy, can go a long way in making States stable, strong and prosperous. To achieve this end, we will: a) Increase the States' share of gross proceeds of Central Tax revenues to 33 per cent;
4. Give adequate assistance to the States to lessen the burden imposed by the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission;
5. Allow States the freedom to raise funds by issuing tax-free bonds;
6. Transfer external assistance to States on the same terms and conditions on which it is received from external donors;
7. Treat loans against small savings as loans in perpetuity;
8. Increase Plan assistance to States in real terms;
9. Swiftly clear infrastructure projects in power, water and mineral sector. The Central Electricity Authority and Central Water Commission will function as consultancy organizations and not have any regulatory role in project clearance. The present policy of environmental clearance will be reviewed.
FOR better local self-governance at the village level, the BJP will:
1. Introduce suitable changes in the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution with a view to further strengthening Panchayati Raj institutions and giving them greater autonomy;
2. Endeavor to make the Panchayati Raj institutions financially self-reliant.
Systemic Cure for Corruption
THE BJP believes that morality and ethics together form the underpinning of good governance. In the past 50 years, the Congress has systematically dismantled all norms of honesty and integrity in Government, indulging in corruption at all levels and resisting all attempts to bring the guilty to book. The UF had declared its intention to expose the corrupt, but ended up protecting them from the arms of justice. The BJP will seek to undo this grievous wrong committed against the nation by the Congress and later by the UF and set an example of unimpeachable accountability and impeccable probity in public life. For a clean public life, the BJP will:
1. Make it obligatory for every elected representative to make public within 90 days his income and assets, as well as those of his/her spouse and dependent children and parents. These declarations will be open to public scrutiny and have to be made every year;
2. Appoint a Lok Pal to inquire into allegations of corruption against anybody holding public office, including the Prime Minister;
3. Introduce extensive regulations to ensure that conflict of interest does not influence decisions taken by those holding public office;
4. Modify and reform the methodology of Government approval of contracts, schemes and large value agreements to make them more transparent;
5. The powers of patronage, the discretion to say "Yes" or "No" to simple daily requirements of the citizens will be done away with;
6. Expeditiously deal with unresolved cases of corruption and in which no action has been taken in the last 12 years; and,
7. Give greater autonomy to the CBI, in keeping with the recent Supreme Court order, so as to prevent investigating agencies from being used to subserve the political designs of the ruling party.
Right to Information
THE BJP believes in taking concrete steps to promote transparency in the functioning of Government as a confidence-building measure. The working of a Government should not only be transparent but should be perceived to be so. We, therefore, subscribe to the principle of sharing information about the Government's work. The BJP will:
1. Enhance public access to information to the maximum extent feasible;
2. Review laws and regulations concerning confidentiality;
3. Introduce social audit of development programmes, especially in rural areas.Cultural Nationalism
THE BJP is committed to the concept of "One Nation, One People and One Culture". The unique cultural and social diversity in India is woven into a larger civilizational fabric by thousands of years of common living and common and shared values, beliefs, customs, struggles, joy and sorrow, as well as symbols of high degree of unity without uniformity. Our nationalist vision is not merely bound by the geographical or political identity of Bharat but it is referred by our timeless cultural heritage. This cultural heritage which is central to all regions, religions and languages, is a civilizational identity and constitutes the cultural nationalism of India which is the core of Hindutva. This we believe is the identity of our ancient nation "Bharatvarsha".
Every effort to characterize Hindutva as a sectarian or exclusive idea has failed as the people of India have repeatedly rejected such a view and the Supreme Court, too, finally endorsed the true meaning and content of Hindutva as being consistent with the true meaning and definition of secularism. In fact, Hindutva accepts as sacred all forms of belief and worship. The evolution of Hindutva in politics is the antidote to the creation of vote banks and appeasement of sectional interests. Hindutva means justice for all.
The BJP is convinced that Hindutva has immense potentiality to re-energize this nation and strengthen and discipline it to undertake the arduous task of nation-building. This can and does trigger a higher level of patriotism that can transform the country to greater levels of efficiency and performance. It is with such integrative ideas in mind, the BJP joined the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. This greatest mass movement in post-Independence history reoriented the disoriented polity in India and strengthened the foundation of cultural nationalism.
The BJP is committed to facilitate the construction of a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir at Ram Janmasthan in Ayodhya where a makeshift temple already exists. Shri Ram lies at the core of Indian consciousness. The BJP will explore all consensual, legal and constitutional means to facilitate the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.