NATIONAL EXECUTIVE November 02, 2001 Amritsar, Punjab
Shri K. Jana Krishnamuthi Bharatiya Janata Party National Executive Meeting
2-3 November, 2001 President's introductory speech
I welcome you all in this holy city of Amritsar for our National Executive Meeting. This meeting ought to have been held in this city last time itself; but as you know we had to meet in Delhi due to unavoidable circumstances. The Punjab Unit insisted that it should be given an opportunity to host this meeting. I thank the Punjab Unit for the excellent arrangements they have made for this 2-day meet.
Amritsar City is not only a historic city but also it is one of the most important spiritual and cultural centers of India. It has a long and cherished history shared by us all. It is because of this reason also the importance of this meeting has assumed significance.
Bharatiya Janata Party and Akali Dal shares power in Punjab. Akali Dal itself could have formed the Ministry on its own strength. But, as we have a long-standing alliance and contested elections together, Akali Dal insisted that we should share power with them. Our relationship with Akali Dal is quite good and with due understanding and accommodation, I am sure, our alliance will accept and meet the electoral challenge successfully.
There is a war in our region. There has been a dramatic change in the international scene and in our neighborhood. All of us know that the attack on America by terrorists group on September 11 proved to be a Black Day for America as on that day, terrorist-hijackers dashed their planes on the twin trade centers of New York and Pentagon in Washington. A few thousand lives were lost. More than the loss of lives and properties, American people and government felt that the terrorists have challenged their invincibility and inviolability. Till then America did not pay much attention to recognise terrorism that was taking place in different parts of the world and much more so in India in general and Jammu & Kashmir in particular. As the strike of international terrorism against America provoked America to launch war against international terrorism, President Bush declared war on terrorism and most of the democratic countries in the world have extended their support to US efforts to combat international terrorism. Military action against Taliban and efforts to hound out Bin Laden are in full swing in Afghanistan.
We have to accept the challenge of terrorists and there is no other way but to fight it out. What is happening in Kashmir; what has happened in Mumbai and other places in India; what happened in New York and Washington can happen anywhere in the world. No civilized country will be left out. If civilization has to be saved from the perils of terrorism, mankind will have to come together and face it boldly. Our NDA Government under the Prime Ministership of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee recognised this clearly and hence extended its full cooperation in this fight against terrorism.
Terrorism cannot be compartmentalised in life. It is total and it has to be totally eliminated. The situation has now come - not to separate terrorist attack on America from the terrorist attack in Jammu & Kashmir or anywhere in India or anywhere in the world - the terrorism should be eliminated from the world. Bharatiya Janata Party would like every country to realise this and formulate its cooperation to the total elimination of terrorism from the soil of the earth. We do understand the anxiety of America to punish Bin Laden who is enjoying the protection and patronage of Taliban by its military action. But America should remember that elimination of terrorism merely of Taliban in Afghanistan will not provide the desired result if it does not come forward to cooperate with India and other countries in rooting out the menace of terrorism from other parts of the world also. The international terrorism has spread its tentacles to many countries and it will try to wreck its vengeance against America and other countries from some other operational base. Bharatiya Janata Party appeals to all countries who have come forward to cooperate in this great task of fighting out the ruthless terrorism that the efforts towards this task should be total and not to spare any terrorist outfit anywhere in the world.
India has been facing terrorist attacks in different parts of the country as well as in Jammu & Kashmir. We have been fighting this evil over a decade and will continue till we eliminate every trace of terrorism. On September 11 the world has joined in condemnation of terrorism. We leave it to the world whether it is going to join our efforts in eliminating terrorism through out and we hope they will realise the gravity of the situation and would not withhold their cooperation. But for any reason the cooperation extended by other countries to America's efforts to root out terrorism in the form of Taliban in Afghanistan, is not extended to our efforts, I am sure, it will not in any manner deter us from successfully pursuing our efforts to eliminate terrorism.
Elimination of terrorism is not the job of the Government alone. Our NDA Government under the prime ministership of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee is determined to carry on its efforts to eliminate terrorism. Our Security forces are playing a great role in this direction. Government and Security forces alone, unless they have the full backing of the nation, cannot succeed in their efforts. The terrorist challenge is a challenge to the entire country and as such, the entire nation accepts this challenge and shall fully back the efforts of the Government in its fight against terrorism. I make a special appeal to the opposition parties not to allow party or partisan interests to come in the way of fighting out the challenge posed by the terrorists. In a democracy we can afford to have different views. But when time comes when the national security is under threat, all should close our ranks and extend unstinted support to all the efforts of the Government of the day and no difference should be allowed to come in the way of securing and safeguarding the security of the nation.
In this context, the role of Pakistan and more so of President Musharaff is not as is expected of them. September 11 developments and compulsion of circumstances, made Pakistan to extend cooperation to America in its war-efforts against Taliban in Afghanistan. Naturally it appears to be a balancing act in Pakistan's efforts to scrape through the situation, as the world knows that Pakistan has been helping and abetting Taliban and its terrorists. It is strange that President Musharaff is trying to doublespeak as when he brands cross border terrorism as freedom struggle and on the other admits terrorism in Afghanistan. His efforts to take public opinion in the world for a ride may not succeed. Terrorism is terrorism pure and simple. If Pakistan is sincere and serious in its cooperation to the world community, in its efforts to eliminate terrorism Pakistan would do well to stop cross border terrorism from its soil. India had made it clear that it is prepared to have talks with Pakistan on all issues including Kashmir provided necessary peaceful climate is created. How can Pakistan expect or for that matter any country in the world, expect India to respond to the request that dialogue should continue between India and Pakistan when Pakistan actively promotes cross border terrorism in the territory of India. If President Musharaff and Pakistan shed their claws of terrorism first and then they will find India extending its hand of friendship to Pakistan.
We have repeatedly stated that India is for building up friendly relationship with our neighboring countries. In a similar manner, we expect our neighboring countries also to reciprocate in a positive manner. Our Central Government has been building up very good relationship with our neighboring country of Bangladesh. Bangladesh went to polls recently and there is a change of Government there. BJP extends its greetings to the new Prime Minister of that country and hopes that under her leadership the relation between India and Bangladesh will further improve. But the recent developments in that country after the new Government assumed office causes great concern in view of the news that Hindus have been harassed and once again the flow of refugees from Bangladesh has started. India is facing already great problem of infiltrators from Bangladesh and that more than a crore of Bangladeshis' as illegal entrants have created an imbalance in social, economic and demographic life of our Eastern and Northeastern states. It is natural that our Government also has expressed its deep concern over this. Inflow of refugees from Bangladesh should stop. BJP sincerely hopes that the new Government in Bangladesh would take necessary steps in that direction.
Our preparations for Uttar Pradesh Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir assembly elections are on. We are to ensure that the respective state units have geared up their organisational machinery to take up the challenge. Each one of the State assembly elections is important in its own way for us. Alongwith these assembly elections Delhi Municipal Corporation elections are also to be held round about this time; and also urban local body elections in Maharashtra. I appeal to the karyakarthas of all these states that they should leave no stone unturned in securing success for our party.
Tamilnadu had local body elections. I congratulate the Tamilnadu unit for the success it has secured.
In our last Executive meeting, in the course of my inaugural address I had made a suggestion to the Government that many of its well-thought-out schemes to benefit the poor are not getting actually implemented at ground level for want of a monitoring mechanism. In our economic resolution also we had brought out this point. I am greatly heartened that the Government took this suggestion of ours into consideration and our beloved Prime Minister, in his Independence Day address made at Red Fort, had announced that the coming year will be an 'year of implementation'. This clearly shows that our Government at the Centre is a responsive one, responsive to suggestions. Again we requested the ministries to bring out publications so that the people can be informed about the various welfare schemes of the Government. I am glad to acknowledge that some of the Ministries have come out with such publications. This will help people to understand the concern of the Government about their problems and also various steps the Government is taking to alleviate the conditions of various sections of people. It is the responsibility of the workers of our party to make people aware, with the help of these publications, various beneficial schemes of the Government, so that people at large will be able to know how to get things done.
In this connection, I would like to make a specific reference to the various Governments running the states in the present constitutionally federal set up. The states will have to fully cooperate in the implementation of all the poverty removal and employment generating welfare schemes of the Central Government. No doubt, state governments are extending their cooperation. Situation demands that there should be dynamic cooperation and coordination so that the central schemes can be totally implemented as quickly and as effectively as possible. For this the interaction between various ministries in the central government especially economic ministries of the central government and concerned ministries in the states, is to be tuned up, so that an effective monitoring system can get evolved by the centre and state governments together.
I desire to bring to the attention of the government the state of mind and the state of plight of the labour in general. BJP has no trade union of its own; because it believes that the trade unions should be independent and not politically oriented. But BJP has the interest of the labour at its heart. When the country is moving away from a state controlled economy to liberalised economy, there is bound to be some problems. As a result of the economic reforms that are being pursued by this government labour reforms also have become very necessary. It is in this conection that amendment is sought to be made in the Industrial Disputes Act and Contract Laws. The amendment should be made in such a manner that would help in accelerating economic activities through enhanced investment flow. We should also increase employment opportunities. I do not think anyone would dispute that these steps are very much in need in the interest of millions of youth who are anxiously waiting for an opportunity to earn their livelihood. This attempt of government to amend the above acts should not be viewed as something against the interests of labour. I earnestly appeal to all political parties and trade unions to cooperate with the Government in this effort so that political difference does not interfere with the interests of unemployed youth.
But, at the same time, I would like to suggest to the government that along with this amendment, the government also should expedite implementation of social safety net measures to protect the interest of workers. The labour also must get assured when they are expecting to play a role of a protecting and preserving national interest; their interest also gets protected. The labour plays a very important role in the economic activities of our country in promoting its economic interest. Keeping this in mind I appeal to the government to sincerely consider the enhancement in compensation from 15 days to 45 days salary against each year's service and National Renewal fund to rehabilitate the affected workers. I would like to make one other suggestion in this context. I appeal to the government to extend the benefits of insurance coverage to the private sector workers in the same way as the PSU workers. Dialogue and communication with labour and a part of the government is no doubt being carried on but there is scope for further improvement, so that the communication gap can get minimised.
The government deserves congrats for its decision to initiate housing schemes namely Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojna worth Rs.2000 crores essentially for the benefit of urban poor with 50% Central Government. This will naturally help to revive industries such as steel and cement and also help in enhancing employment opportunities. I wish to venture to suggest to the Government that an integrated approach needs to be taken so that policy intentions could be translated into reality at the earliest. In this context, therefore, I request the Government to serious consider the need for:
1. Setting up specialised courts to handle all land title disputes.
2. Simplifying and improvising ground registration system for land titles.
3. Lower the stamp duty thus minimising tax evasion and reducing cost assured possession of dwelling units.
4. Remove all hurdles in conversion of the so called agricultural land where there is no cultivation taking place in those lands, which is seen in places like Delhi.
The recent step by Reserve Bank of India to reduce bank rate would no doubt help in meeting investment flow through cheaper borrowing and thereby reviving the economy. Lower rates of interest on lending would also mean lower interest rates for savings. We understand the hardships of those persons who depend upon the interest they derive from their savings; but to speed up economic growth, this trend becomes inevitable.
One other suggestion I recommend for the consideration of the government:
When interest rates are lower, it has automatically become applicable even for the savings accounts already in operation. But, with regard to already committed borrowings the old rates of interest continue even after lowering of lending rates of interest. I request the government to bring these anomalies to the notice of RBI so that the question of parity in approach for both lending and savings could sincerely be examined.
The next meeting of the World Trade Organisations is taking place at Doha. I am sure, the government will stick to its decision of not allowing any new issues for discussion without resolving first the implementation programmes. I earnestly appeal to the government that for the anomalies in the present set up specially the ones that adversely affect our farmers and small sector should be rectified at Doha.
We observe commencement of Swarna Jayanthi of our Raj Niti Yatra on 21st Oct this year by calling a special session of our national council. It was a very successful session. We have formed a Celebration Committee under the leadership of our Prime Minister. It will decide the nature of programmes that can be carried out. The manner and the objective of our Swarna Jayanthi Celebrations should be to reach out every nook and corner of the country, every small and tiny section of our society not only to carry the message of our party but also to carry the achievements and plans and schemes of our NDA Government. This year should enable us to broad base our organisational, social and electoral support. This occasion should also be used to bring all those veterans who have done their best in life to help and enable us to reach the present position in our political journey. This Committee I hope will give necessary guidelines in this regard.
I have been moving about and meeting our workers everywhere. We have gone in for a programme for Central-sent leaders meeting the mandal level workers in a day. We have nearly covered 250 districts in the country and we will complete the rest before end of November. A feedback is quite interesting and educative. These programmes have been welcome by all concerned and this has helped to renew a direct contact of central leaders with mandal level workers. My desire is that the state leaders and district leaders should in similar manner, hold mandal baitaks, sthania samiti baitaks in the coming few months. This will greatly enable to build up the necessary closeness and communication that has been the hallmark of our organisation all through.
The efforts of our leaders and our karyakarthas all through have enabled us to reach a position that we occupy today in Indian politics. We will have to strive hard further not only to retain this position but also to reach peak and the peak is providing leadership to the entire nation in the overall national interests. It is our responsibility to build up such a well organised political strength on the basis of our hard service devotion, dedication and discipline and it is only through this we will be able to achieve the goal we have set for ourselves in our Chennai Declaration that 21st century shall be Bharat's Century.