M. Venkaiah Naidu
After the National Council session of the Bharatiya Janata Party at Parivartan Nagar in Gandhingar, Gujarat on May 3 and 4, 1998, when Shri Kushabhau Thakre took over as the President of the Party from Shri Lal Krishna Advani, there have been many notable and historic events.
Just one week after that National Council session, nuclear tests were conducted in Pokhran on May 11 and 13, 1998. It revealed to the world that Indian scientists are second to none. They made India proud.
The BJP, which had been actively involved in agitations for the creation of Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh States is happy that both Houses of the Parliament have approved the creation of these States. They will come into being shortly.
Orissa faced an unprecedented Super Cyclone in October 1999. The Bharatiya Janata Party rose to the occasion valiantly. Beside all BJP MLAs, MLCs and MPs contributing one months' salary to the Cyclone Relief Fund, the Party collected donations and other useful articles for rendering relief and rehabilitation to the affected persons.
On the Political Front
The party had to weather another kind of storm, a political one, when Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who headed a coalition government when the National Council met in Gandhinagar, was forced to demit office after being in office for 13 months, on April 17, 1999. This step had to be taken after the AIADMK, prompted by the Congress, withdrew its support on April 9, 1999. The Congress, which boasted that it would form an alternate government within a few hours, failed to muster enough support, even though that party was given more than sufficient time to prove that it could form a government. Consequently, the 12th Lok Sabha had to be dissolved and fresh elections ordered.
That Shri Vajpayee is back as Prime Minister - he was sworn in as Prime Minister for the third time on October 13, 1999 -- and continues to head the Union government is part of history now. He leads a more stable National Democratic Alliance Government now.
The Indian voters have decided that the BJP-led NDA is the most suited for providing a stable government and good governance. They have realised that the Congress and some other parties, in order to gain the support of the people, make promises which they cannot and would not keep.
The BJP led government has restored the relaxation in qualifying marks and standards of evaluation in matters of reservation in promotions for SCs and STs which the Congress-backed United Front Government had taken away through five Office Memoranda in 1997.
It is noteworthy that as many as 21 Scheduled Tribe and 25 Scheduled Caste candidates have been returned to the Lok Sabha on the BJP ticket. We are happy that the BJP has the largest number of MPs from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Thanks to the selfless service, hard work, dedication and sacrifices of all our members and sympathisers, the Bharatiya Janata Party is today the largest political party in the country. From being a responsible opposition party in the past, the Bharatiya Janata Party has come to be regarded as a responsive party.
At a time when we are heading the Union government and are the ruling party in some other states, it would be appropriate to remember what Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee, the Founder- President of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, said on October 21, 1951: "Elections have, no doubt, an importance of their own. ….. (but) whatever may be the result of the elections, our party must continue to function thereafter, carrying the message of hope and goodwill to all classes in rebuilding a happier and more prosperous India." We should never forget this sane advice.
With Selvi J. Jayalalitha's AIADMK aligning with the Congress and bringing down the BJP-led Government by a single vote, the Indian electorate was forced to go to the polls for the third time in four years.
Despite the Congress making a strong plea for a single party rule, the people reposed confidence in the NDA -- a coalition of political parties committed to common interests. The parties were prepared to put the country's requirements ahead of their organisations' interests. The alliance partners decided to promote all significant interests and to set aside differences, for the sake of achieving common goals.
The BJP has, thus, ushered a new political culture, i.e. politics of consensus, replacing the politics of confrontation. As we have been telling repeatedly, development is our mantra and consensus our approach.
Faced with another General Elections, the third in four years, there was a fresh regrouping of parties and a new alliance was formed - the National Democratic Alliance. The people reposed faith in the BJP-led NDA and approved its agenda by giving the BJP alone 182 seats in the 13th Lok Sabha.
This time, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, led by Thiru M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, joined the NDA and the Telugu Desam Party, led by Shri Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, supported the alliance. While there were thirteen partners in the alliance in 1998, more political parties came together under the NDA umbrella in 1999. While the BJP had its own manifesto in the earlier elections, it fought the 1999 General Elections under an agenda prepared by the NDA.
Lok Sabha elections
The BJP which had only 2 seats in 1984, emerged as the single largest party in 1996. Contesting from 471 constituencies it won 161 seats that year beating the Congress (140 seats) to the second place. The party increased its tally to 180 seats in 1998 though it contested from only 384 constituences. In 1999, the BJP further increased its total to 182, contesting for much lesser seats (339). This shows that the people have great confidence in the party.
Elections to eleven State Assemblies - Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Bihar, Haryana, Manipur and Orissa - were held after the BJP's National Convention in 1998.
In Andhra Pradesh, the BJP secured 12 seats (as against 3 held earlier). In Goa, the BJP bagged 10 seats (4 earlier). In Karnataka, the BJP won 44 seats as against 40 it had held earlier. In Bihar, our party obtained 67 seats as against 41 it had won earlier.
In Haryana, the BJP had a slight set back. We secured 6 seats as against the 10 earlier.
In Delhi also we had a set back but we recovered during the Lok Sabha elections, winning all the seven seats.
In Maharashtra, the BJP in alliance with the Shiv Sena was running the government. In that State also the party did not perform up to expectations. We could secure only 55 seats as against 64 in 1995. However, our performance in the elections to the Lok Sabha was much better than in 1998. As against 4 seats in 1998, we won 13 seats in 1999.
In Manipur, the BJP made a good start, winning six seats. In Orissa, the BJP contested 63 seats and won 38 of them. Its alliance with the BJD, which won 68 seats, helped to trounce the Congress (26) which ruled the State during the earlier five years.
The BJP is in power in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh on its own strength. In Uttar Pradesh the BJP is leading a coalition government. It is a partner in the governments in Orissa, Meghalaya, Goa and Punjab.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate was elected as Mayor in one Corporation in Andhra Pradesh. In addition, the Party was successful in ten Municipalities in the State. Thirteen Vice-Chairmen, 264 Municipal Councillors and 21 Corporators in five Municipal Corporations are also from the BJP.
In Madhya Pradesh
The BJP won 65 per cent of Municipalities for which elections were held in Madhya Pradesh this year. The party won in nine of the eighteen Corporation. The BJP had only three Corporations with it earlier.
Of the 93 Municipalities for which elections were held, the BJP claimed 41. The Party was successful in 108 of the 262 Nagar Panchayats.
While the BJP held only two Zilla Parishads last time, it was successful in 18 of the 61 Zilla Parishads for which direct elections were held. BJP supported candidates won in three other Zilla Parishads.
The BJP was successful in 210 of the 467 Janpath Panchayats and in 115 of the 298 Krishi Upaj Mandis.
The BJP won in 978 of the 2729 wards in the Municipal Elections in Rajasthan. The Congress could secure only 967 wards. BJP candidates have been returned as Municipal Chairmen in 58 Municipalities as against 59 from the Congress. Considering the fact that the Congress is the ruling party in Rajasthan, BJP's performance is very heartening.
The BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal alliance won the posts of Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the elections to the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation in December 1999.
Last month, he BJP-sponsored candidate won the election to the post of Chairman of the Chandigarh Zilla Parishad.
The BJP had 1.81 crores of Primary members in 1998. Today there are nearly 3 crores of Primary members. As against 98,000 Active members in 1998, we have 2.43 lakh Active members now.
More than 1-1/2 lakh elected Local Committees were constituted in addition to thousands of Mandal Committees. Organisational elections were completed in all the States except Orissa, before the election of the National President. Most of these elections were held on consensus basis, without any friction.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Chief Electoral Officer, all State, District and Mandal Level Election Officers for the excellent work they have accomplished.
Aajiwan Sahayog Nidhi
With a view to make the party financially self-sufficient, the Aaajivan Sahayog Nidhi was launched in 1997. Under this scheme, workers and sympathisers of the party make an annual contribution of Rs. 1000 or Rs. 5000 or Rs. 10,000, depending on their capacity.
The idea is to have sufficient number of supporters so that the party is not dependent on commercial and business interests for its funds and is free of pressures from them. This open funding of the Party will have a healthy influence in making political parties dependent on themselves for their financial needs. The Nidhi will be a permanent source of funding for the party. The funds are audited and submitted to the Income Tax authorities.
It is heartening to note that because of the efforts of all of us, the number of contributors are increasing year after year. The names of Aajiwan Sahyogis are published from time to time in the party's journals, BJP Today (English) and Bhajapa Samachar (Hindi).
We must renew our endeavour to increase the number of such contributors. We must resolve that all our organisational needs for funds are met by the Aaajiwan Sahayogi Nidhi.
April 6 is observed every year as Sthapana Diwas (Foundation Day). This year's Sthapana Divas was celebrated with added enthusiasm throughout the country and with a difference. At the national capital, there was a huge gathering of our members from Delhi which was addressed by the Party President, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. Their inspiring speeches and messages to our members were printed in Hindi and English and sent to all our Units.
In the rest of the country, the Sthapana Divas was observed from 1st April to 10th April in as many Sthaneeya samithis as possible. This is the first time when such a national programme was observed at the local committee levels. More such programmes at the sthaneeya level should be planned by the State Units as that will involve our ground level members in party activities.
The President of the Party, Shri Kushabhau Thakre met elected Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament on October 25, 26, 27, 28 in 1999 at the Party Headquarters to inter-act with them.
The National Executive Committee which met in Chennai on December 27, 1999 considered the Party's Constitution as amended by a Committee under the Chairmanship of Shri K. Jana Krishnamurthy and the National Council meeting on the next two days adopted the amendments after extensive discussions. According to the new constitution, the term of the President will be for one term of three years as against the earlier tenure of two terms of two years each.
It is under the new rules that organisational elections have been held in the States and for the post of the National President. Shri Bangaru Laxman, who has been elected unanimously the National President, will hold office for three years.
There were contests only in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal States for the election of the State President. In all the other State Units, including Pondichery where a BJP State Unit was formed for the first time recently, the Presidents were elected unanimously. Elections are an integral part of democracy in a political party. While one cannot be against contests, the contestants should remember that there can be only one winner in a contest. The loser should be sportive enough to offer full co-operation to the victor. It is only then that a political party can survive.
As the need to assess the changing political scenario, to reiterate our basic committments and to refix our priorities was felt, the National Council of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which met in Chennai on December 28 and 29, 1999 adopted a historic document called the "Chennai Declaration."
The Declaration acts as a guide for all the members of the party to rededicate themselves to the BJP's commitment to value-based politics, to broaden the Party's mass base and to make it an effective instrument to deliver good governance. It also calls on the members to faithfully implement the National Democratic Alliance's Common Manifesto without any dilution or deviation.
The Declaration also contains a clarion call to all the members and supporters of the Party, indeed to all our countrymen, to participate in the new resolve to make the 21st Century India's century -- "Nayi Shatabdi, Naya Sankalp" and "Ikkeesvin Shatabdi Bharat ki Shatabdi."
The Party will have to deeply study this and all the Party Units must follow the guidelines.
BJP is a party with a difference, a fact well-recognised by one and all. It is cadre based and mass oriented. For those in the party, the inculcation of ideology and idealism is important. For this purpose, the workers need orientation training, on regular and scientific basis.
In September and October 1998, District level sammelans were held to educate participants on social combinations, political scenerio and organisational matters. Central and State leaders and Union Ministers participated in these sammelans. The idea was to propagate the real image of the party and highlight the achievements of the government and to counter the vicious propaganda launched by the Congress and other parties.
A National Media training camp for those in the BJP looking after the Media was held in Delhi from May 1999. A similar camp was held in July 1999 in Calcutta for the benefit of those from Assam, Bengal, Orissa and North Eastern States.
The Kendriya Prashikshan Sansthan of the BJP organised a meeting of Prashikshan Prabharis and Sah-prabharis in Jhinjouli in Haryana on December 18 and 19, 1999.
A training camp for Members of Parliament was organised in Jhinjouli on April 29, 2000. Shri L.K.Advani, Union Home Minister, inaugurating the camp said that members who underwent training definitely did better on the floor of both the Houses of Parliament. Because of the training given to its cadre, the BJP stood tall among the political parties.
As part of the training programme, a number of publications, educative and informative, were brought out.
The BJP Today, in English, and Bhajapa Samachar, in Hindi, the official organs of the party have been well received. We must strive to increase their circulation by enrolling more subscribers.
A nation-wide campaign to highlight the performance of the BJP-led government was held from February 11 to March 19, 1999.
Anti-betrayal Day was observed on April 23, 1999 to demonstrate against the betrayal of the people's mandate by the AIADMK and Congress.
A booklet on "Bihar Situation" was released before the State Assembly elections in Bihar to draw the attention of the people to the "Jungle Raj" prevailing in that State.
A document - Constitutional Study & Review: Let Facts Speak for Themselves - was released by the BJP on April 14, 2000. It shows that the Congress has no moral right to talk about keeping Dr. Ambedkar's Constitution "intact". Successive Congress Governments had amended the Constitution so many times in the past that its slogan "Save Constitution" rang hollow. The Congress went far beyond amending the Constitution. It altered its basic structure itself during the dreaded Emergency Rule.
The booklet was brought out by the BJP with a view to educate the people about "what" and "why" of the National Democratic Alliance Government's decision to set up a Constitution Review Commission. It sought to counter the deceitful and diabolical propaganda by the Congress and its allies. It exposed the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the Congress and Communist Parties, by shedding light on their own brazen attempt in the past to mar the basic structure and principles of the Indian Constitution.
The Party has also brought out this year, in Hindi and English, a compilation of all the resolutions passed by it in various fora and the Presidential Addresses by its Presidents during the past 20 years. We have been bringing out periodically booklets and folders on the Party's political programme. All these are of educative value to our cadre. We must make necessary sales arrangements in all District Centres so that the workers benefit by these publications. For this purpose, special drive is a must.
The Bharatiya Janata party brought out two booklets -- "Remember The Emergency and Strengthen Democracy" and "Darkness At Noon" -- on June 25, 2000 to mark the 25th anniversary of the imposition of emergency by the Congress Government, led by Smt. Indira Gandhi, in 1975. The booklets point out that for nineteen months, India - the world's largest democracy, reeled under a draconian regime which ran roughshod over the Constitution and every institution of our Parliamentary system of governance. The Congress has not yet apologised to the nation for imposing emergency and inflicting untold sufferings on the people.
The imposition of Emergency was recalled so that the people could learn the right lessons from the dark phase in the history of free India and strengthen democratic systems.
Largely-attended meetings were held throughout the country. MISA and DIR detenues were felicitated at public functions. Almost all the newspapers published special stories on June 25 and continued to carry articles on the dark period of India history for several days.
Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee's Centenary
Glowing tributes were paid to late Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee by the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on the occasion of the start of his birth centenary on July 5, 2000 at a function at the Party Headquarters. Similar programmes were held in different parts of the country.
The Party has decided to observe the next one year as Shri Syama Prasad Mookerjee year, this being his centenary year. At Delhi, our efforts are to put up a suitable memorial building to perpetuate and propagate his ideals.
The Bharatiya Janata Party observed "Kargil Day" at the Party office here on July 26, 2000. Lt. Gen. Candeth was the Guest of Honour.
Our Morchas' Activities
The Bharatiya Janata Party's Minority Morcha organised a nation-wide campaign\agitation to create awareness among the people about the terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. Seminars were also organised. On January 20 this year, thousands of people marched to the Pakistan High Commissioner's office in New Delhi and staged a demonstration.
The Morcha co-ordinated with the Mahila Morcha in organising a Muslim Youth and Muslim Women's Convention in Delhi.
Minorities Conferences were also conducted in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Patna, Delhi and other places in the country. Large numbers of minorities participated in these conferences.
The BJP's Scheduled Castes Morcha organised a massive Dalit rally on December 11 and 12, 1999 in Delhi. It was addressed by the Prime Minister. Meetings and rallies were also held by the State Units on April 14 to celebrate Dr. Babasaheb's birthday and to congratulate the Union Government for serving the interests of Scheduled Castes.
The Scheduled Tribes' Morcha of the BJP took steps to create awareness among tribals, even in far flung areas, about the various government schemes meant to benefit the Scheduled Tribes. A rally was organised in Dhahanu in Maharashtra. The death Anniversary of the tribal leader, Birsa Munda, was observed.
The Yuva Morhca organised a Yuva Sankalpa Sammelan throughout the country on February 26, 1999 with the inaugural programme being held in the Cellular Jail in Andaman, The "Atal Sandesh" Yatra, to inform the people about the achievements of the Shri Vajpayee-led government, was organised over a period of one month from June 15, 1999.
A Village Reconstruction Army was constituted by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in October-November 1999 to provide relief and rehabilitation to the victims of the Super Cyclone in Orissa. Rice, blankets and clothes collected throughout the country were made available to the sufferers.
A Seema Suraksha Jagran Yatra, which started in Dwarika in Gujarat and ended in Guwahati in Assam, and which covered 7500 kms. in 48 districts of eight states, was organised by the Yuva Morcha to warn the people about the increased ISI activities in states adjoining the International border and threats to internal security. The President of the Yuva Morcha, Shri Ramashish Rai and Shri G. Kishen Reddy, Secretary, led the Yatra which received good response throughout.
A Yuva Jagran Padayatra in connection with Yuva Chetna Varsh and covering 616 kms from Calcutta to Cuttack was conducted from January 12 to February 9, 2000. Not only were the achievements of the BJP-led government explained but the work done by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Swami Vivekananda were brought to the notice of the people.
The Yuva Morcha launched in July a Jana Jagriti Abhiyan throughout the country to highlight the need to review the Constitution as also the threats from Pakistan's ISI . A large number of seminars and symposia were held.
The Mahila Morcha organised training camps in all the States. It conducted a number of seminars to seek 33 per cent reservation for women in legislatures. An All India Convention of Muslim women was held. Over 4000 Muslim women attended the convention which was addressed by the Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Women's conventions were also organised in Hyderabad with over 30,000 participating in it. In Shimoga of Karnataka, nearly 50,000 attended the convention and in Himachal Pradesh 10,000 women took part in the deliberations.
The Kisan Morcha is very active, too. The President and Secretary of the Morcha visited the Districts in all States urging the kisans to strengthen the party. The Morcha has been educating the kisans on the various schemes that would benefit them.
Teams of the Morcha visited Andhra Pradesh and Punjab and submitted reports about the suicides committed by farmers It held "Gram Gaurav" sammelan in Bihar and dharnas in Punjab which motivated the kisans to join the Morcha.
The State Units
It is gratifying to note that all the State Units of the Bharatiya Janata Party have been active and have been making steady progress. Besides carrying out the programmes chalked out by the Party at the national level, they all organised agitational programmes, whenever necessary, and undertook programmes to highlight the achievements of the BJP-led government.
All the State Units rose to the occasion when the Super Cyclone struck Orissa. They collected not only funds but also useful articles for distribution to the affected persons.
We must spare no effort and leave no stone unturned not merely to maintain and retain our hold but to consolidate and increase the peoples support. We have been gaining footholds in states where we had held a blank before. We must strive to increase our base.
In the end, I thank all our cadre, the active members, the Office-bearers of all the State Units, the President of the Party, Shri Kushabhau Thakre and other Office Members for the co-operation extended all these years.