National Executive Meeting 27, 28 & 29 July, 2001
President's introductory speech
Parliamentary House Annexe, New Delhi
I am extremely happy to welcome you all for the meeting of our national executive. We had decided to have it early next month in Amritsar-Punjab and our Karyakartas there had enthusiastically started to make necessary preparations for it. As very important social and religious festivals fell on the first fortnight of August and as we could not postpone our executive till the end of August, we decided to have this meeting of ours in Delhi itself once again now. I have assured our Punjab unit that our national executive will definitely consider having our next meeting in Amritsar in Punjab.
Friends, the monsoon session of the Parliament has commenced. Many of the pending bills are to come up for consideration. Many other important matters are sure to be raised for discussion and debate. It is as it should be. In a parliamentary democracy Parliament is the vital forum wherein the people's interests as well as people's concerns are freely and fully discussed. Government is called upon to justify every action and decision of it and opposition is entrusted with the responsibility of making the government to realise this. People's expectation of parliament is only this. But unfortunately this type of functioning of Parliament is totally disregarded of late. I do not want to recount what all happened during the last budget session. But it pained every lover of democracy, it caused agony to every thinking mind which wished well for Parliamentary democratic system and it created a type of disenchantment for all towards the very political system itself when it was found that the people's representatives themselves threw away the only instrument through which they could bring government's ommissions and commissions under sharp focus for the benefit of the people. It will ever remain a sad chapter in the pages of Parliamentary democracy that anger and accusation dominated over accountability of government's handling of public funds. We are even prepared to reluctantly acquiece in the decision of opposition in stalling the proceedings of the House day after day if the government of the day had refused to oblige the opposition with a demanded debate. But the reverse was the case. The government was fully prepared for a full and elaborate debate and the opposition spurned it.
I would not have resorted to recall what happened during last session, but for the fact that we are in the midst of another session of parliament. I fervently hope that the opposition as well as the government will agree to an orderly and purposeful session so that all important matters that are slated to come up before parliament this time will be calmly and coolly discussed. Therein lies the success of parliamentary democracy and we owe it to our succeeding generations that we pass on this parliamentary democratic system in its best of health.
After our last executive meeting assembly elections in the five states of Kerala, Tamilnadu, Pandichery, West Bengal and Assam had taken place. The Left Front was the major looser and it lost its power in Kerala. In West Bengal too it could have been cut to size but for the division in anti-establishment votes. More than left front winning the election the opposition lost it. The surprise was in Tamilnadu but people's verdict must be respected. As the matter of assumption of power as Chief Minister by leader of AIADMK is before the Supreme court, I do not want to comment upon it. But I am sure that a very clear cut decision will be delivered by the highest court of our land so that no body whether a governor or a returning officer shall err in future in such matters. In Assam the ruling Party lost the election and the then main opposition has come to power. Time will prove whether the people of Assam have made the right choice. In all these five states wherever the BJP elected representatives are there, they will have to play the role of constructive opposition with proper floor coordination with our friendly parties.
I will be failing in my responsibility if I do not draw the attention of the executive on a matter which is very important not only to BJP but also to other allies in NDA. I must say and I do say with pride that NDA is becoming more and more cohesive with better and friendly understanding in running the government. I desire to take this opportunity to congratulate every one of our allied parties in NDA for their cooperation and constructive role.
But one or two developments in NDA especially when the five state assembly elections were on us need to be taken notice of. Two of our allies in NDA left us before the above state elections for reasons of their own. Their leaving did create an impression-however insignificant it may be-that by the desertion of the two, the stability of NDA came up for some discussion. Secondly NDA as such did not provide any provocation whatsoever for these parties to leave. Thirdly after achieving the purpose for which they left, they now appear to be desirous of returning to NDA. I feel none of the parties in NDA can enjoy a right to hurt NDA and then ask for benefits of NDA. Well, BJP is only a part of NDA although it provides the major part. I think it will be in the best interests of NDA both from short term and long term point of view if certain norms are formulated for entry or reentry of any party in NDA. I hope NDA as a whole will give due consideration to this suggestion of mine.
It will not be out of context if I refer to post election developments in Tamilnadu. Nobody questions the right of a state government to take legal action against any citizen irrespective of their status and stature, if there be basis for it. But living in civilized society and in a practising parliamentary democracy, the government is expected to go in for healthy standards so that even individuals are influenced to follow the same. Constitution may provide various freedoms to individual citizens but if the government of the day disregards the same with impunity where lies the remedy for the affected individuals? The paper on which the word sugar is written will not taste sweet. So also constitutional rights do not confer the rights unless the citizens are allowed to enjoy them. What happened in Tamilnadu? The manner in which the former Chief-minister of Tamilnadu M. Karunanidhi was arrested and handled is something that has shocked the entire nation. Any amount of explanation cannot assuage the wounded feelings of persons concerned. We would like to tell the AIADMK leadership that power should not blind them to throw all norms of expected decent behaviour to carry out their personal vendetta. Power should never be used as a cloak to humiliate a political opponant. None including the state or elected government has the right to challenge the human dignity of a citizen of the country as the human dignity is be very basis on which the collective dignity of the society itself is built.
I strongly condemn the entire handling of the matter by Tamilnadu government. The fact that the police officers had crossed all limits only goes to prove how subordinates will be tempted to behave to please the power that be knowing its mind. There can be no excuse for any state government to arrest central ministers. If such things take place - Lalloo in Bihar threatened to emulate Jayalalitha-there can be no orderly government in the country as none including chief ministers and Prime Minister can be safe in the country. Anarchy should never be allowed to creep in under any garb as it will be the very negation of civilized government. BJP should accept this type of challenge and we shall never allow the country to be plunged in this type of anarchy.
I am sure the Central Government also must be comteplating steps to see that such things do not recur anywhere in the country. Any centre of power violating the golden rule of humiliating human dignity should be made to face the consequences as at alone will be the requisite deterrent.
There have been unfortunate developments in Manipur. The situation arising there on the agreement to extend cease-fire is more due to misunderstanding and communication gap. The misunderstanding arose that the extension of cease-fire to other north eastern states would result in disturbing the territorial integrity of Manipur and a few other states. The government's clarification that the agreement does not in any manner affect the territorial integrity either now or in any future date came after mischief was done in Manipur where people's apprehensions were exploited to perpetrate violence. It would have been better if the agreement itself had provided the necessary clarification. Once the mass mind takes over it is extremely difficult, for reasoning and explanations to become effective. This is what one sees in Manipur. The Prime Minister as well as Home Minister have assured the people of Manipur and other states that there is no basis for their apprehension. I am sure the central government will be able to convince the people of Manipur and other states that their territorial integrity will remain intact not only for the present but in future also.
The recurring phenomenon of draught and floods is seen this year too. While certain parts of our country like Rajasthan, Gujarat all have borne the brunt of draught conditions. Orissa is again reeling under heavy rains and floods. I am sure the respective state governments will do their best in providing relief measures. I am equally sure that the central government also will ensure that relief measures will not suffer for want of central help. I also appeal to all the social and religious organisations which have always been in the forefront in providing relief to the affected people when any natural calamity afflicts the people to come forward in ample measure in undertaking the relief activities supplementing the efforts of governmental agencies. It is needless for me to stress that our party units all over the country to extend their best to the Orissa unit in their relief activities.
Drought, floods and cyclone visit us almost every year. There is therefore an imperative need to take such preventive steps that are necessary to lessen the rigorous of these and to keep the relief machinery alert. The natural calamities prone area should be identified and necessary schemes drawn up and implemented so that colossal national loss of lives and properties are minimised and resultant human misery avoided. The central and state governments should speed up the setting up commissioners for natural calamities to attend to the task.
The Centre has been striving hard to improve the economy of the country. Very many steps have been taken by the central government to keep the economy moving on the right track. Thanks to benevolent measures and management in agricultural sector we have been having good foodgrains production which has resulted in ever growing food stocks. A good number of schemes to meet requirements of poorer sections of people, kisans, women etc. have been undertaken by the Government which have come in for great appreciation. When all these schemes get fully implemented there is bound to be great improvement in the economic field and vulnerable sections of people are sure to secure better levels of living.
But there is a feeling that the change over from a deficit condition in foodgrains to a surplus one has brought about its own problems which one may call as problems of plenty. One such problem is huge stock on hand in government godowns and sufficient quantity in market. In these circumstances the kisans with stock available with him does not find a market to sell his produce. Our kisans do not have capacity to keep his stock under storage and wait for favourable time to dispose off. The government stocks in hand also is overflowing and has no storage facilities if they go in for further procurement. Under these circumstances the brunt falls on kisans and he needs immediate relief. There will have to be free movement of foodgrains from one corner of the country to another and Essential Commodity Act will have to be suitably amended so that there can be free flow of foodgrains from one part of the country to another. The Kisans need to be advised with regard to agricultural produce they should grow. To meet the deficit the country, went in for quantitative production of food grains but now that the country has reached a surplus stage the agriculturists should receive guidance encouragement and incentives to go for quality produce so that we will be able to improve our exports to compete with others successfully and to secure a brand name for our country.
Many of the schemes and assurances are to yet to be fully implemented. There seems to be procedural delay in flow of allotted funds for centrally sponsored schemes. In the implementation of projects like rural connectivity and mini power projects especially in tribal and hilly areas age old acts like Forest Act and environmental clearance come in the way. Reports also are that there is inadequate resource flow to the agricultural sector from banks specially NABARD due to procedural bottlenecks.
I am given to understand that special steps are needed to be undertaken to see that all central schemes get duly and properly implemented. Whether in rural development sector, small scale sector or any other sector, there seems to be no mechanism available at present to monitor the implementation of these schemes. I feel this is a matter which needs to be given due attention and importance by the government. I have a suggestion to make. The central government in consultation and cooperation with state governments should evolve a monitoring mechanism at the central and state levels to see that all schemes are duly implemented and targeted sections of people do receive the benefit of these schemes. Whenever the next Chief Ministers meeting takes place the Prime Minister can appeal and persuade the states to cooperate in this matter. This will be a great step forward to make the people of the country to feel that schemes are not intended to remain so but do get implemented to benefit them.
The government also should come forward to educate the people about various steps being taken by it to improve the lot of people. Ministries should bring out publications with regard to the programmes taken up by them for the improvement of economic standards of the people. These should be published in all languages and widely distributed. This will enable party men and public to better understand the steps that are being undertaken by the government. It is also necessary that the concerned ministers should extensively tour and periodically assess and monitor the implementation of various programmes and keep the people informed.
Our Prime Minister has been saying on number of occasions that party cadre should play an important role in this matter. Keeping that in view the party has started arranging periodical meetings with concerned ministers so that the party can get briefed about government activities.
We have categorically declared in our Chennai declaration that the government should be a facilitator and not a regulator. It is in keeping with this stand of ours that our government has deliberately decided to move away from a regulated economy to that of liberalisation which means a facilitated economy. It is a decade sine the country has gone in for liberalisation. We are to further move ahead in the path of liberalisation. But then it will be prudent to take stock of the effect and impact of liberalisation on the Indian economy during the past decade, identify weak points if any, apply correctives if needed and then formulate further steps to be taken towards the onward journey along the path of liberalisation. I feel that this type of objective assessment will enable to keep to the right track.
The recent developments in our very friendly neighbouring country Nepal caused us all shock, agony and grief. What ought not to have happened and what people of Nepal never dreamt happened. The people of India naturally felt very much concerned with what happened in the Royal House of Nepal as both Nepal and India are bound by unbroken bond of culture, religion, history and social relationship. India wishes well and will always be ready to render whatever help it can so as to enable Nepal to emerge from the present trying times.
The focus of the world was on India nay Agra last week. Indo-Pak summit took place in Agra. Our Prime Minister while taking steps to strengthen our security requirements in a much better and effective manner than his predecessors has also been taking bold initiatives to bring peace to the region by taking steps to strengthen relationship with all our neighbouring countries including China. It is because of this effort of his government that we see improved relationship with our neighbours. Pakistan too is our neighbour and naturally Prime Minister's peace offensive was towards Pakistan too. His Lahore journey, his unilateral cease-fire in J& K, his invitation to Pak Chief to come to India for talks are all part of this initiative and naturally India has proved its bonafides in its efforts on arriving at peaceful settlement of all bilateral matters between India and Pakistan.
The Agra summit did not produce results as expected or as desired. None need feel sorry for it. Agra summit is not an end in itself and it is one of such attempts. Why should India fear to talk to Pakistan or talk to Pakistan with fear. India has proved time and again that none can browbeat or pressurise it either through armed strength or through economic measures. Bharat under NDA government under the able Prime Ministership of Shri Ataji is confident enough and capable enough to meet any kind of challenge from any quarter.
Agra brought out the statesman in Atal Bihari Vajpayee while it brought out the soldier in Musaraf. If only Musaraf had realised that he had come to India as President of Pakistan and as such he has come to resolve all outstanding matters between his country and our country things could have taken a different turn in Agra. The manner in which he disregarded the host country's view and invited the Hurriat leaders for talks and had talks, the way in which he disregarded the diplomatic niceties and courtesies extended to him in Agra by converting an informal breakfast talk into a regular televised press conference only brings out the utter disregard and contempt he had for the role he was expected to play. Even as one can't succeed in hiding a pumpkin in a grain of cooked rice so also Pak cannot succeed in hiding the fact that it is the source and base of all cross-border terrorism. Parrot like repetition of Kashmir as the core issue does not impress anyone much more so the people of India.
Pak President must understand one thing clearly that India is a democratic country and Sri Vajpayee is the duly elected and acknowledged leader of India. There is an absolute national consensus on Kashmir in India and Musharaf must bear that in mind. Hence Vajpayee's rejection of Musharaf's unifocal agenda is the rejection of the entire Cabinet and entire country.
Pakistan will do well to remember that the Indian Parliament as true representative of people of India had unanimously passed a resolution of indivisibility of J & K and India and that the entire area of J&K is inalienable part of India.
India has spoken through that resolution. It is India that decided and that will continue to decide the present and future of every part of India including J& K and none others can claim any right on the basis of religion or otherwise to demand any separate status for the portion they live. If Pakistan understands this it will be better for its future relationship with India.
Diplomatic courtesies and diplomatic niceties are essential parts of foreign relationship and India has always upheld it. But when the other side deliberately flouts it to secure some momentary self interests it becomes necessary for us also to take counter steps to take care of our interests even while observing such courtesies and niceties. This is the lesson of Agra which we should remember.
We all greatly appreciate the peace initiatives taken by our PM by arranging the Agra summit. The PM has also taken the right step in accepting an invitation for return visit to Pakistan for talks. Our congratulations to Sri Vajpayeeji for the firm stand taken during the one to one talks and for making the President of Pakistan understand that not only J& K but the entire Indo-Pak relationship should be looked at from altogether different perspective.
I have been touring with the object of meeting our workers. I could visit a few states. I find great enthusiasm in our workers. Wherever I went I could see the enthusiastic public participation in our public programmes. We need to step up our efforts. We have enormous number of primary members. Unless we go in for proper motivation and training and unless they move towards their objective it cannot convert itself into strength. We must bring in more and more of our primary members to actively participate in our organisational activities. This can not be done unless there is constant interaction between leadership and our members. I appeal to all our office-bearers from central level to lowest level to constantly tour respective areas, interact with our workers, convey the message of our party, educate the workers and through them the people about the performance of our government and seek their cooperation to make India strong and peaceful.
This is the task before us and let everyone of us realise these responsibilities and put our shoulders to the wheel.
I would like to conclude with a quotable quote from world renowned scholar historian Arnold Toynbee. In his address to Edinburg University in 1952 he predicted that in the twenty first century it is possible that India, the conquered will conquer its conquerors. We have in our Chennai declaration resolved to make 21st century Bharat's century. Keeping these in mind it is up to us to realise this resolve of ours at the earliest possible date.