A major landmark in the Party's confident onward journey
Our agenda for the next three years:
Dear journalist friends, I am happy to have you today at my maiden press conference after taking over the reins of presidentship of the Bharatiya Janata Party at the two-day National Council session, which concluded in Nagpur on August 28.
The session, which was preceded by a one-day meeting of the Party's National Executive, will go down as a major landmark in the BJP's confident onward journey. From the Party's founding conference in Mumbai in December 1980, we have come a long way. The BJP was born out of the debris of the Janata Party, which was the first, albeit unsuccessful, experiment in coalition governance in independent India. Today, our Party is heading the first stable and successful ruling coalition, in the form of the government of the National Democratic Alliance under the able and visionary leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Nagpur session was significant for our own Party, for the NDA Government and for the broader democratic process in the country for the following reasons:
Party of karyakartas: My becoming the fifth President of the BJP coincides with the Party's evolution to a qualitatively higher stage in its two decades-old existence. We have demonstrated that ours a democratic party, which manages transition with unity and confidence. The transition has taken place in a smooth, natural and dignified manner, unlike the way it happens in some other parties.
As I noted in my presidential address, it has further strengthened the BJP's proud reputation as a party of karyakartas (workers); indeed, all the five presidents so far began their political life as ordinary workers. Ours is not a Party where the highest office is reserved forever for members of a family.
Growth is a Way of Life in the BJP : The Nagpur session has shown that Growth is a Way of Life in the BJP. We have marched ahead constantly and continuously in the past two decades, converting every setback into an opportunity for faster and broader growth. India has seen no other national party which has, like the BJP, grown from strength to strength by remaining faithful to its core principles and ideals while, at the same time, creatively adapting itself to the needs of time.
Our growth manifests itself not only in electoral terms, but also in the manner in which we have gained the confidence of more and more sections of our diverse society, and won support in more and more areas of our vast country.
Preferred Party of Good Governance: The BJP has expanded its base into newer areas of India's "Social Space" and "Geographical Space". We have also achieved dominance in the "Alliance Space". Now the challenge before the BJP is to expand further, and consolidate our gains in what can be called the "Governance Space".
As Home Minister Shri L.K. Advani said in his valedictory remarks, we want to make the BJP not only a natural party of governance -- the distinction which the Congress party enjoyed for long years --, but also a party of Su-raj or Good Governance. Hence, my agenda for the next three years is to make the BJP the Preferred Party of Good Governance..
Unanimity on vital issues: The two resolutions on the political and the economical situation, which were adopted by the National Council, as also my own presidential address, cover a comprehensive range of issues. Not long ago our opponents used to smugly dismiss the BJP as a single-point party. The sheer breadth and depth of the issues, which were voiced at the Nagpur meeting, demonstrated that ours is a ruling party with a vision and a purpose.
The discussion and debate at both the Executive and Council meetings were lively and spirited, as is only to be expected in a party with full internal democracy. They too confirmed our reputation as a mature, serious, and purposive party. Above all, the Nagpur session once again proved our ability to evolve a unanimous view on all the vital issues facing the nation - be it the situation in Kashmir, internal security, economic reforms, or social sector development.
Wherever it was thought necessary, the Party has also given clear directions to the Government in matters of policy and implementation. This unanimity will no doubt further enable our Government to effectively deliver the promises made in the common manifesto of the NDA.
There has been much interest both in the media and among the people on two issues I have raised in my presidential address. I am happy that both have been very well received.
"Reservation Plus": While fully backing the continuation of the policy of reservations, and indeed demanding their loophole-free implementation, I have stated that the time has come to think of "Reservation Plus". Towards this end, I have presented a 10-Point Programme for further promoting Samajik Nyay (Social Justice) for the all-round development of Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and other disadvantaged sessions of our society.
I invite socio-political organisations, business associations, the intelligentsia, and the people at large to debate this programme, with a view to further enrich it and operationlise it.
Call to reach out to our Muslim brethren: Similarly, there has been widespread interest in my impassioned call to the Party to reach out to Indian Muslims. By so doing, I believe that we can truly develop the Bharatiya Janata Party as "Bharat in microcosm".
Some cynical critics have commented that the BJP's effort in this direction is motivated purely by electoral considerations. Anyone who reads what I have stated in my presidential address will see that such allegations are baseless. We believe that the distance that has existed between India's largest party and India's largest religious minority, apart from not helping the BJP, has not helped either the country or even the Muslims themselves.
The cynical politics of minorityism, practised by the adversaries of the BJP, has helped them use Indian Muslims merely as vote banks. Neither has it helped our Muslim brethren join the developmental mainstream, nor has it given adequate opportunities for them to play their due role in nation-building.
The BJP is determined to change this unhappy reality. We will prove - indeed, we are already doing so in some measure --, how our motto of "Justice for All, Appeasement of None" can be practised faithfully both in letter and spirit. A significant number of Muslims are already attracted towards our Party, because of our sincerity, idealism, and the stature of our leadership. They have begun to see through the self-serving propaganda of our opponents to keep Muslims away from the BJP by raising the bogey of communalism. I have no doubt that we shall succeed in our objective of making the BJP a preferred party even for Indian Muslims.
Struggle against organisational weaknesses: The National Council has taken due note of the organisational weaknesses in the Party. These are mainly on account of our rapid growth and also due to the negative influence of the socio-political system in which we as a ruling party have had to operate.
Here, too, the Nagpur session has seen the Party emerge with a stronger resolve to counter the weaknesses and further consolidate our strengths and achievements. Both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister in their addresses have given a clear direction to Party workers. Both have stressed their responsibility to function as the workers of a ruling party with a historic mission.
The Party will further expand and strengthen itself by reaching out to every section of our society. The BJP will not rest on its oars. A dynamic approach with regard to policies and programmes, eliminating organisational drawbacks and deficiencies, mapping out a suitable strategy for the upcoming State assembly elections, strengthening our ties with our partners in the NDA, and further improving the performance of our Government - these will be the guiding objectives for the Party in the coming months and years.
The BJP's National Council took place at a time, which is the arunodaya (sunrise) of the 21st century for India. This is the period when India, in spite of all the problems she is facing in the economic and social spheres, is poised for a big leap forward. In this challenging endeavour, our Party is ready to make its fullest contribution.
The message of Nagpur is clear: It is to make the BJP a mighty political force in service of the cause of building a strong, prosperous, self-confident and egalitarian India in the 21st century.