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National Executive 2000 to 2015

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Bharatiya Janata Party
DELHI PLEDGE

With
Dedication, Discipline, Determination and Dynamism we shall fulfil the commitment:

"Yes, We are a Party with a Difference; and
Ours is a Government with a Difference"

Adopted at the National Council meeting of the BJP
at New Delhi
on August 3, 2002

The Bharatiya Janata Party today stands at a proud moment of transition in its history. It is a moment of change, with a new President and a new team of office-bearers at the helm. But it is also a moment of continuity, since the Party remains steadfastly committed to its basic ideology of nationalism and its founding goal of making India a strong, prosperous and integrally developed nation.

With this transition, we have demonstrated that the BJP is capable of smoothly restructuring itself to face the emerging new challenges. Although it represents a generational change in some ways, it conforms to India's age-old tradition of creative co-existence of the young and the old, of promoting youthfulness and dynamism while respectfully preserving the guiding influence of experience and wisdom.

Our Party, which was born with the mantra of Charaiveti, Charaiveti - march forward, march forward against all odds and in all circumstances --, is on the move again. Times change. Men, too, change. But the Party continues to advance tirelessly on the path of duty - to serve this great nation and its great people.

Firm foundation of ideology and idealism

That path was lit up over five decades ago, with the founding of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, under the inspiring leadership of late Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee and, later, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. Its journey during the first two and a half decades was most arduous. Political power was nowhere in sight, but the Party never lost sight of its founding goal. Resources were limited, but unlimited was the idealism in the hearts and minds of the small band of its dedicated and disciplined activists. Hardships were far too many and far too heavy, but each one was made light of by the supreme self-confidence, coupled with the readiness for sacrifice, by the Party's selfless leaders and karyakartas alike. Today we pay tributes to all those early morning stars who lit up the Party's trail during its initial trek through darkness.

We had to begin a new journey in 1980 with the founding of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The circumstances that brought the period of the Jana Sangh to a close and inaugurated the era of the BJP, with the tumultuous interregnum of the Janata Party, form one of the most educative chapters in independent India's political history. As subsequent developments have clearly shown, the BJP alone, of all the parties, learnt the right lessons from that experience. True, many democratic forces worked together to end the tyranny of the Emergency and defeat the authoritarianism of the Congress. But the BJP alone, braving a calumnious campaign to isolate us, succeeded in evolving the right strategy to create a stable and effective alternative to the Congress for taking the country forward.

The onward march of a Party with a Difference

The period between 1980 and 1998 also presented many challenges before our Party. But we overcame every adversity, and rose to the occasion on every trial. We went to the people again and again with programmes and campaigns, focusing on both national and local issues. We demonstrated that the BJP is a steadfast champion of democracy and people's aspirations for development and welfare. We proved, too, that the BJP was the most spirited voice of nationalism when it came to defending India's identity, unity and integrity. Our fight against pseudo-secularism, and for the re-affirmation of the integrative role of Cultural Nationalism, fundamentally changed the course of politics in India. It will continue to impart strength to the BJP in the years to come.

No less importantly, in Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee our Party presented a leader whom the people of India accepted as a natural national leader, unsurpassed in popularity and respectability, long before they gave him the mandate to be the Prime Minister.

It is this combination of solid and sustained work on the ground; uncompromising espousal of nationalism; dedicated and disciplined organizational network; and inspiring and incorruptible leadership that helped the BJP win people's support, goodwill and credibility, and thereby grow from strength to strength almost all over the country in record time. These factors made the people believe that here is a Party with a Difference - different in terms of ideology, idealism, leadership and behavior.

It is the same faith of the people in our Party and its leadership, more than any other attendant cause, which brought the BJP, along with our allies in the National Democratic Alliance, to power in March 1998 and also helped us win their renewed mandate in 1999.

Therefore, we pledge never to forget that our triumph of today is built on the tapasya of yesterday. We shall remind ourselves daily that that, by the same inexorable principle, our success tomorrow will be guaranteed only by our hard work today. There is simply no other time-tested formula for sustainable success.

NDA Government's proud record of achievements

After being voted to be the leading constituent of the ruling coalition at the Centre, the BJP entered the third and a crucial phase in its history. We are proud of our performance in governance in the past four-and-a-half years. The NDA Government under the far-sighted leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is ably assisted by Deputy Prime Minister Shri Lal Krishna Advani, has many achievements to its credit which history will record and recall with pride. It has taken many historic steps to strengthen India's national security, the most important of them being the fulfillment of our longstanding commitment to make India a nuclear power. While not in the least weakening our age-old and time-tested commitment to world peace, this bold step has made major powers of the world accord respect to India that is her due.

Our Government's firm but self-restrained conduct of the Kargil War secured for India a proud victory. Its concurrent diplomatic initiatives raised India's stature in the international community, while simultaneously ensuring Pakistan's isolation. This beneficial effect has been further reinforced by the Government's subsequent handling of the campaign against Pak-sponsored cross-border terrorism. Indeed, never since Independence has there been such widespread international appreciation of, and support for, India's position on the Kashmir issue as now.

In the sphere of national development, too, our Government has many proud accomplishments. It has unveiled some of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the history of independent India. Its policies have brought about a telecom revolution in the country and helped India emerge as an IT superpower on the world scene. Through a broad sweep of economic reforms, it has been continually removing the shackles that successive Congress governments in the past had put on India's immense economic potential.

The Vajpayee Government's achievements also lie in other important areas such as Centre-State relations, which have been smoother than at any time in the recent past; evolution of a new coalition culture, based on the harmonization of legitimate regional and social aspirations with a national perspective; and the Prime Minister's consistent approach of consensus-building on issues of national importance.

The BJP compliments its representatives in the Government and its allies in the NDA for their contribution to these achievements, which have further strengthened India's democratic and federal traditions. This augurs well for the future since it puts effective curbs on the authoritarian and autocratic instincts of the Congress party.

The future is bright for the BJP

The Congress party has now entered a phase of decline. Drained of all idealism, devoid of any deep-rooted vision of nationalism, and dependent ever more slavishly on the dynastic principle for sheer survival as a cohesive party, the Congress is doomed in the long-term. The communists are fast heading towards irrelevance and eventual extinction. The emerging political scenario in the country presents new opportunities before the BJP, but it also poses heightened challenges.

Momentary setbacks in one or the other States should not daunt us. We shall learn from recent experiences and resolve to put the Party on a consistently winning path. At the same time, we shall constantly remind ourselves that our goal is not just to win elections and form governments, but also to provide Good Governance. Based on the useful experience of governance at the Centre and in many States, both now and in the past, -- and based, additionally, on the good examples of other parties -- the BJP resolves to write a reliable software of Good Governance every time the people give us an opportunity to serve them.

Indeed, the touchstone of the Party's success in this current third phase of its evolution is its ability to win a renewed mandate of the people on the strength of performance and good governance. This was one of the main factors for the NDA to be voted back to power in the elections to the 13th Lok Sabha. This is also how the BJP Government in Goa won a fresh and stronger mandate recently. Now it is time for us to ensure that this becomes a rule, rather than an exception, for the BJP.

BJP's strategic responsibility in the 21st century

Put more ambitiously, our aim should be this: If the Congress was the party of Swaraj, and a near-natural choice of the people for governance in the 20th century, the BJP should become the Party of Su-Raj and the natural choice of the people in the 21st century.

In setting this aim before ourselves, we are not guided by the desire for power for self-aggrandisement or for any other narrow and unedifying end. Rather, a lofty vision, articulated in Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya's "Integral Humanism", propels us to do so. Additionally, a realistic assessment of the daunting regional and global challenges before India in the coming decades forces us do so. Only an economically prosperous, socially developed, internally cohesive, militarily strong, and culturally renascent India can effectively face these likely challenges to our security, sovereignty and unity.

Why hasn't India, in spite of having all the needed resources, moved farther towards this goal than it has in the fifty years since Independence? We believe that this is principally because of India's failure to create a Unity of Minds activated by a National Purpose, and a governing structure guided by Strategic Thinking. True, an external crisis invariably produces splendid patriotic unity among our people, communities and their socio-political organizations. But in normal times, we frequently work at cross-purposes. As a result, the enormous creative energies of her one billion diverse people are routinely dissipated, rather than being harnessed for India's all-round and speedy development.

This situation has to end. No doubt, the institutions of civil society can make an important contribution to this transformation. However, the fundamental driver of change can only be politics - but Politics with a Difference. What India needs today is a Unifying and Organising Political Force --

*        A political force that has a rousing national vision and the ability to translate it into reality by providing leadership to the nation for a prolonged period;
*        A political force capable of harmonizing all the legitimate aspirations of our diverse people within the framework of a dynamic and decentralized democracy;
*        A political force wedded to the principles of genuine secularism, social justice, social harmony, gender justice and equitable economic development;
*        A political force that is modern in outlook, with a sound understanding of global developments and technological trends and the way they impact on India, and yet is proudly anchored in India's value systems and cultural traditions;
*        A political force whose functionaries feel for the poor and the underprivileged, and are able and ready, almost as their second nature, to subsume their individual interests within the needs of politics for a higher purpose.

The BJP aspires to be that kind of superior political force for India's all-round transformation in the new century.

This is by no means an easy task.

*        Will we have the dedication and readiness for self-sacrifice to be modern-day Dadhichis for the cause of the Party?
*         Will we have, within the framework of a vibrant internal democracy, the kind of discipline that an humble soldier displays in discharge of his patriotic duty?
*      Will we have the single-minded determination of Swami Vivekananda to pursue the goal we have set for ourselves?
*     Will we have the dynamism of Raja Shivaji to cross the stiffest of hurdles and accomplish the most impossible-looking tasks?
*

Yes. We shall strive our utmost to summon the dedication, discipline, determination and dynamism that the situation demands of us.

We are aware of the many responsibilities on the Party in the immediate, short and medium terms. In this document, we outline five main tasks before our Party and our Government.

Five Tasks before the Party

1: Consolidation and further Regional-Social Expansion

Our most urgent task is to gear up the Party machinery to win a renewed mandate in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where Assembly elections will be held soon, and to win in other States that will go to the polls next year.

Our objectives are clear and straightforward: Consolidation of our support base in traditional regions and social groups, and simultaneous expansion of our influence in ever-newer parts of India and Indian society. As the very name of our Party suggests, and also enjoins on us, the Bharatiya Janata Party should become a microcosm, a mini-replica of Bharat and Bharatiya Janata.

We should expand the scope of our activities among kisans and in rural areas, with a marching call to our leaders and karyakartas: "Go to the villages." We should especially redouble our efforts to increase our Party's work among the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and the most backward among the OBCs, and women of all classes. For this, we should devise special programmes and strategies and implement them with determination. We must also actively campaign for the proper implementation of numerous welfare and developmental schemes, which both the Centre and State Governments run for their benefit with significant budgetary allocations. In addition, we should spot dedicated and promising leaders and workers from these communities and give them full encouragement them in our Party and its mass organizations.

For quite some time now, the BJP has been emphasizing our commitment to expand our support base among minority communities, especially Muslims and Christians. Our adversaries' motivated and self-serving propaganda that the BJP is "anti-minorities" is unsustainable because no falsehood can ever live forever. In trying to attract minorities towards our Party, we shall not adopt the methods of appeasement, which our adversaries have perversely projected "secularism" to be. We reject this approach outrightly. Indeed, our minority brethren themselves have seen through this cynical game, having realized that their support to the Congress and other pseudo-secular parties has not helped them overcome their problems of unemployment, housing, healthcare, lack of educational opportunities, etc.

At the same time, we shall zealously work for justice for minorities in all matters, without any discrimination vis-à-vis other citizens. We shall also pay renewed attention to their special problems and concerns with fairness and sensitivity. The more we are able to do this, the surer will be our success in this mission.

2: Removal of weaknesses through honest introspection and prompt self-correction

The BJP has to perforce function in an environment that has, over the years, been polluted by a culture of scandals and power games promoted by the Congress and other parties. We are aware that some of these negative traits and trends have also peripherally crept into the BJP's organization and functioning in recent years. Our Party has had to pay a heavy price wherever these have assumed dominant proportions.

Factionalism; internal bickerings for posts, positions and Party's tickets in elections; indiscipline; and a lack of adequate consultation with, and participation of, karyakartas in the Party's functioning - these have impaired and imperiled some State and local units of the Party organization from time to time. The damage to the Party's image in the eyes of the people is sometimes worsened by the breach of probity by some of our elected representatives.

These weaknesses infected other political parties more. But, naturally, what affects our Party is what is of immediate interest to us. The core and the vital parts of our organization continue to remain healthy. We retain the capacity to take remedial action when needed. Nevertheless, the Party pledges today to intensify its vigilance against all these malignancies. We have to especially learn sobering lessons from how these negative traits have contributed in a major way to the decline and decay of the Congress party.

Hence, this is the principal task before us today: Revitalise the Party organization at all levels through honest introspection and prompt remedial action. Practice teamwork in every unit of the Party - from the highest to the lowest. Let every party worker ask himself or herself at the end of every day:

"Have I discharged my responsibilities toward the party conscientiously? Have I done justice to the task assigned to me?"



It is this process of self-assessment, self-discipline and self-correction which is the surest antidote to the ills plaguing our Party organization.

3: Taking the Government's message to the People and People's message to the Government

The Party resolves to communicate the achievements of the NDA Government among the people -- with pride, conviction and enthusiasm. The best publicist for our Government's policies, programmes and performance can be our own Party workers. Similarly, the best carrier of feedback from the people to the Government can also be our own Party workers. Therefore, our Party organization has to master this two-way communication by becoming a living and ever-vigilant link between the Government and the People. For this, all our Party functionaries and elected representatives at all levels have to vastly increase their mass work by heeding the message: "Be mobile; Be active; Educate the people; Learn from the people; Take the Government's message to the People and People's message to the Government."

4: Creating exemplary mass leaders, dedicated karyakartas and a good fit between the two

One of the important tasks before the Party is the grooming of leaders with a broad mass appeal at different levels. The BJP needs more and more leaders with a widespread support base among the various regions and communities of our diverse country. After starting our journey as an "Ideological Party" with a limited support base, the BJP has become an "Aggregative Party", with a network of dedicated and ideologically committed cadres. While continuing to expand on this course, we need to pay enhanced attention to two key aspects of aggregative politics - one, greater representation to those communities who are numerically significant and who have remained less represented in power structures; and two, charismatic mass leaders who, while being popular in these communities, are at the same time capable of being seen as leaders of a district or a state as a whole.

The usefulness of having mass leaders cannot diminish the critical importance of their working within the framework of a disciplined Party organization. Hence, we need to evolve a culture that enables the BJP to harness the mutually supportive strengths of both mass leaders and dedicated karyakartas.

Our Party is functioning in an environment in which the credibility and public image of politicians has been considerably eroded. Therefore, the situation places an added responsibility on all our functionaries and elected representatives to set higher standards for probity in public life, ethical conduct and maintenance of dignity and decorum in Parliament, State legislatures and other bodies. As in the past, the BJP should continue to be known as a party of ideal leaders and disciplined workers.

5: Developing the mindset of a "Ruling Party" and capacity building in the organization for "Good Governance"

Since assuming the reins of office at the Centre in 1998, we have acutely realized the need, at all levels of the Party organization, for making a "mental transition" from being a party of the opposition to a ruling party. In essence, it means appreciation and acceptance of the full weight of responsibility of governing - and providing Good Governance to - a large and diverse country like India. It means understanding the various problems and issues before the nation in all their complexities and developing the needed competence to deal with them effectively.

We must realize that the people's expectations from us are very high. Our people are no longer swayed by empty promises. They want those in power to solve their pressing and long-standing problems. They reward good-performers and punish those who are perceived to be bad performers.

This new electoral phenomenon in the country has placed a far higher premium than before on politics and governance becoming development-oriented. In order to fulfill this new expectation, our Party has to further develop its will, its determination, and its internal capabilities for constantly improving the standard of our performance. We have to pay greater attention to in-house capacity building for meeting a whole range of governance responsibilities. We need to develop a steady stream of well-trained Party functionaries who are capable of handling mandates in agriculture, commerce, industry, science and technology, healthcare, education, foreign affairs, defence and in other such areas. Our Party workers should also develop a sound awareness of international economic and political affairs, since the effect of these on India is far greater now than in the past. It is obvious that training - both in ideological and governance issues - has to be given a prominent place in our Party's overall activities.

Five Tasks before the Government

1: Further intensify the fight to put a decisive end to Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism.

The Party realizes, and would like the people also to realize, that this campaign will be a long drawn-out one. India achieved a decisive success in the fight against terrorism in Punjab after close to 15 years, but succeed we finally did. We shall similarly succeed in Jammu & Kashmir, too. The Party appreciates the NDA Government's firm and perseverant steps in this regard. At the same time, we urge the Government to further intensify this battle, with all the means at its command, so that Pakistan is forced to back off permanently from its dangerous and self-destructive reliance on terrorism and religious extremism as an instrument of its Kashmir policy.

2: Present a practical roadmap for achieving 8 % GDP growth on a sustainable basis

The BJP commends the Prime Minister for putting before the nation an ambitious, but eminently realizable, goal of achieving 8% GDP growth on a sustainable basis. India cannot make a big dent on poverty and unemployment without achieving this target. The Government should follow up on this target-setting by drawing up a doable strategy for achieving it. The responsibilities of the various Central ministries and State Governments, as also the expected contributions from the various sectors, should be widely made known. Achieving 8 % GDP growth should be elevated to a national mission, with an attendant sustained mass campaign to make it a People's Target -- not just the Government's.

One way of making it a people's campaign is to mount focused propaganda on the solemn guiding principle of our economic reforms: protection of the nation's interests and promotion of people's welfare, especially the welfare of the poor and vulnerable sections of society. The Government should improve publicity of its policies, programmes, achievements and the many signature projects it has launched to show how they will benefit the common man. The Government should also consider starting a few more major initiatives in railways, power, irrigation, drinking water, rural infrastructure, etc. Since the power situation is especially grim in most parts of the country, and as it is a State subject, the Government should immediately evolve a consensus that ties all the parties and State Governments to a reform strategy. The Party also urges the Government to improve the working of the existing social security schemes and launch new ones for the various categories of the poor and middle class.

3: Create a Plan of Action for fulfilling the promise on "One Crore New Employment Opportunities"

The BJP has always advocated "Growth with Jobs", and rejected the model of "Jobless Growth" which the successive Congress Governments had pursued. In this context, the BJP wishes to remind the Government of the solemn promise we had made to the electorate to create one crore new employment opportunities in the economy. The Party congratulates the Government for accepting the recommendations of a Committee set up by the Planning Commission. We call upon the Government to implement these recommendations with determination and without any further delay. Full productive employment is a precondition for harnessing the limitless energies of our youth for nation-building.

The Government should improve the monitoring of its employment and self-employment programmes, on which large sums of money are expended. The Jayprakash Narayan Guaranteed Rozgar Yojana for all the distressed districts in the country, which was announced in the last Budget, should be speedily launched. Self-Help Groups, which have a huge potential for poverty alleviation, should be made into a people's movement. The economic empowerment of the poor through SHGs can also greatly contribute to progressive social transformation at the grassroots. Therefore, the Government should direct banks to fully support them through necessary micro-credit inflows. State Governments should be rated on the basis of their performance in implementing Centrally-funded schemes, and such rating should be widely publicized. The difficulties facing small scale industries and enterprises in the informal sector need urgent attention, since they have the highest potential for employment generation. The present labour laws should be reformed so that hurdles to the creation of new employment are removed. At the same time, the interests of the existing workers should be suitably safeguarded.

4: Expand the attention on agriculture, rural development and Panchayati Raj institutions

Our Government has done much to promote the interests of kisans and to catalyze rural development. Nevertheless, the accumulated burden of neglect of agriculture and rural development is so huge that we need to increase our attention to them manifold. In view of the likely shortfall in rains in several States this year, the Party urges the Government to vastly expand the scope of its anti-drought measures, especially food-for-work programmes. At the same time, it should work on a long-term strategy for effective drought-proofing of our agriculture. A similar strategy is also needed for effective flood-control measures. While congratulating the Prime Minister on his recent announcement to start a Rashtriya Jala Samvardhan Yojana, the Party urges the Government to put it into action soon. The crop insurance scheme should be made more comprehensive, and new opportunities created for crop diversification and food processing. The Government should direct the banks to expand the scheme of Kisan Credit Cards, which has been a huge success, to cover the entire peasantry by 2004.

WTO has been an area of major concern for Indian industry and agriculture. The Government should increase its efforts to educate our people, especially kisans, about the new challenges, as well as many new opportunities, created by the WTO regime. The nation should be made aware that only a united national effort, involving all the political parties, State Governments, and the people, can help us face the future with confidence. We should prepare the people to negotiate the difficulties in the transition period, since these are but the stepping stones to a path of greater prosperity for all.

Year 2002 marks the 10th anniversary of the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution empowering the Panchayati Raj Institutions. While these were welcome as far as they went, experience of the past 10 years suggests that PRIs continue to lack effective financial and administrative powers to discharge the responsibilities assigned to them. The Party, therefore, urges the Government to expeditiously act on the unanimous resolution of the recent Panchayati Raj Conference to amend the Constitution for their real empowerment.

5: Revitalise the implementation machinery

The issues highlighted above form only a small, albeit important, part of the tasks before the Government. However, none of these tasks can be satisfactorily accomplished unless the Government improves our country's systemic record of implementation. Our system places too many non-financial barriers to development, which cause delays, inefficiency, cost-overruns and corruption.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly emphasized the need to strengthen the implementation capabilities of the Central and State Governments. The Party feels that it is high time the Government initiated serious action on this front. This action has to have a broad sweep, covering governance reforms, administrative reforms, legal and judicial reforms, and expanded role for voluntary organizations.

All policies and programmes should be people-centric, with an in-built design for increasing transparency and people's participation. Accountability of the bureaucrats charged with their implementation should be fixed, along with the introduction of a suitable system of incentives and disincentives. Our overarching objective should be to change the mindset at every level and create a new result-oriented work culture in the country.

Conclusion

This document, which may be called The Delhi Pledge, seeks to present the BJP's vision of its role in shaping India's future, with a clear identification of the main tasks before our Party and our Government. We proudly reiterate our commitment to continue to remain a Party with a Difference. We affirm with equal pride that ours is a Government with a Difference.

It is our resolve to make the "Difference" factor more pronounced in the time to come.