BJP : NEWS REPORTS National Executive Meeting
December 23, 2002 [Parliament Annexe, New Delhi]
BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY National Executive Meeting Presidential Address By
Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu
New Delhi - 23.12. 2002
Adaraneeya Shri Atalji, Adaraneeya Shri Advaniji, my dear colleagues in the National Executive,
I extend a very warm welcome to all of you at this important meeting of our Party National Executive. It is a meeting to rejoice, to celebrate - and to re-dedicate ourselves to the tasks ahead.
Just look at the two events that flank our two-day meeting. Yesterday we rejoiced at the swearing in of Shri Narendrabhai Modi in Gandhinagar as the Chief Minister after a spectacular victory, which gave our Party a renewed mandate in the just-concluded elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
And day after tomorrow we will celebrate the 78th birthday of our beloved leader and Prime Minister, Shri Atalji. It is a very special day for us-indeed, for all the people of India. In Shri Atalji we have a mahapurush leading this mahaan nation. His wisdom, sagacity, experience and his personal quality of carrying people of all shades along are priceless assets for our Party and our Nation.
Shri Atalji, the founder of our Party and the fountain of inspiration for all of us, has always been very dear to us, very special to us. And we too -- all the lakhs of our Party karyakartas - claim a special place in his heart. After all, Shri Atalji himself was also a karyakarta like all of us - hardworking, dedicated and fully committed to the cause of the Party and Nation. Hence, it is with immense love that I, on behalf of all of you, and on behalf of all the members of this great Party extend our heartiest felicitations to Shri Atalji on his birthday.
We have decided to celebrate his birthday - this year and in future - as Vikas Divas or Development Day. We will use this occasion to spread his great message - Let us make India a Developed Nation by following the mantra of "Vikas, Teji se Vikas, Santulit Vikas aur Sab ka Vikas".
For this, I have asked the General Secretaries to draw up a programme from December 25 to January 12, which is Swami Vivekananda Jayanti. I would like Members of the Executive to give their ideas and suggestions to make this programme a success.
Let us replicate the Gujarat Spirit
Friends, I now turn to the other cause of our rejoicing. Today, on behalf of all of you and on behalf of millions of workers and supporters of the BJP, I extend the heartiest of congratulations to Shri Narendrabhai, Shri Keshubhai, Shri Rajendra Singh Rana and all our dear colleagues in the Gujarat unit for securing a historic victory for the Party in the Assembly elections. Your victory has electrified the atmosphere in the country and energized the rank and file of our Party everywhere. Today I also applaud the work of Shri Arun Jaitley, Shri Sanjaybhai Joshi, Shri Ramdas Agarwal and Shri Naqvi at the Party headquarters who lent excellent support to the Gujarat team. The entire Party worked as a team.
Today, I must also express our grateful appreciation of the guidance we received from Shri Advaniji throughout the Gujarat campaign, in which he himself participated tirelessly. The Prime Minister addressed four very useful meetings in the four regions. A number of Central Ministers and other Party leaders participated actively in the campaign. The campaign management, media and publicity management, logistics management - all this was conducted in a highly professional manner.
Hence, if anybody asks us whether we would repeat the Gujarat 'experiment' elsewhere, our answer should be: "Yes, we shall replicate our Gujarat 'experience' everywhere, because in Gujarat we have again proved to ourselves that collective work is the key to success."
Modi versus Sonia - It was an unequal contest
Today, my very special applause is reserved for Shri Narendrabhai, who fought like a lion in the face of unprecedented calumny against him and our Party, and made, on counting day, his opponents run for cover. This election was not a Modi vs. Vaghela contest. The Congress Party and the Leftist Lobby made it into a Modi vs. Sonia contest. The results have shown what an unequal bout it was.
Friends, this election will be remembered not only for the nature and scale of our victory, but also for the viciousness of the anti-BJP, anti-Hindutva and - if I have to call a spade a spade - anti-Hindu campaign conducted by the Congress and the Communists before, during and, sadly, even after the polls. The Congress President took the lead by making many highly objectionable pronouncements, perhaps the most offensive and outlandish of which was her charge that Gujarat, the land of Gandhi, was turning into the land of Godse! This was a slur on the asmita and atma-gaurav of the people of Gujarat, forcing Shri Narendra Modi to launch his Gaurav Yatra. Today the whole world knows what the response of the people of Gujarat to this Yatra was.
The outcome of this election has demolished the myth that the Congress is getting revived on account of its leadership.
The real significance of the Gujarat mandate
It is sad to say the least that the Congress party has learnt no lessons from its debacle in Gujarat. Consider the Congress President's flare-up, after five days of stunned silence, that the BJP won in Gujarat by "spreading poison". Other Congress leaders have said that we won by playing the politics of "threats and intimidation". Rather than accepting defeat gracefully, Congress leaders have again resorted to falsehood, thereby again insulting the people of Gujarat. That there was a 90 per cent turnout of minorities in a violence-free election disproves their bogus allegation.
The message that flowed from a record turnout of 62 per cent of the people of Gujarat is sought to be distorted by the vanquished and frustrated political forces who never had any clue as to what was at stake in Gujarat elections. As the Gujarat election process peaked, the national perception crystallized the central issues as terrorism and extremism and political opportunism. Our political adversaries were rightly recognised as those willing to compromise on national interests for short-term votebank considerations. The people of this country had been watching in anguish as the country was being bled by terrorists and extremist forces over the last twenty years. Gujarat elections offered an opportunity to effectively articulate their concerns on these larger issues and it was the BJP that was overwhelmingly seen by the people of Gujarat as a Party that understood their anguish and concerns, and was determined to address with firmness and farsightedness.
The voters of Gujarat reposed their faith in the BJP yet again because the choice before them was very clear. It was between the forces of nationalism and the forces of pseudo-secularism. Gujarat was hence not a mere political victory for BJP, but it was a mandate for the ideology that has always held the nation's interest as its core strength.
We shall make Gujarat an 'Aadarsh Pradesh'
Today I have a message for our Party colleagues in Gujarat. The elections are now behind us and our tasks and duties are before us. Not only the people of Gujarat, but the people all over the country, will keenly watch how our Government will perform. As before, we should - and I am sure we will - prove all our opponents wrong. I congratulate Shri Narendra Modi for unambiguously declaring, both before and after the elections, that he stands for the unity, dignity, welfare and development of all the five crore people of Gujarat, without any distinction or discrimination.
The BJP assures one and all that our practice shall be true to our motto -- "Justice for All and Appeasement of None", in contrast to the Congress party's long record of "Appeasement of Minorityism and Injustice for Minorities". I urge our minority brethren to see through this cynical game, shun the Congress and other pseudo-secular parties everywhere, and forge a new equation of mutual understanding with the BJP to further the cause of national integration, nation building, and their own welfare. Vote bank politics has done incalculable damage to the minorities and it is time they realized it.
Our Party has strongly and unequivocally condemned the violence, both Godhra and post-Godhra. The State Government did its best to contain the situation. There can be no justification for shedding the blood of innocent people, irrespective of the caste or community they belong to, in a civilized society.
I wish to assure the people of our country on one more score. We are determined to make Gujarat a Model State, an Adarsh Pradesh, free of fear, full of opportunities, a State whose economy will be put on a track of rapid growth, and in which the fruits of development will reach all its people fairly, but especially to the poor and the marginalized of all communities. I have full confidence that this will happen because the people of Gujarat are hardworking and entrepreneurial.
'Vijay Parv' and the tasks it imposes on us
Friends, from one victory it is time to march towards many victories. If Goa signified a turnaround, Gujarat marked the beginning of "Vijay Parv" as our Hon'ble Prime Minister has so aptly described it. This Parv will see our Party's victory in many States which are going to the polls in 2003, and it will be crowned by the BJP winning a bigger mandate, in the 2004 Parliamentary elections.
In Gujarat, we have scored a hat trick - by winning consecutively in 1995, 1998 and 2002. Similarly, we shall score a hat trick at the Centre by winning in 1998, 1999 and 2004. I have defined our target as 300 seats for the BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections. I did not say so as a wild guestimate. I always believed that one day our Nation would travel on the path of the ideology that has all along been guiding us and that moment of reckoning is not very far. But to make that tryst with destiny, we have to gear ourselves up and get our act together.
Right now, our immediate task is to gear up for the forthcoming Assembly elections in nine States. Wherever the Congress is in harness in these States, its defeat is a certainty, a writing on the wall. The by-elections in Rajasthan and Assam are a barometer to the mood and mind of the people. Hence, my first appeal to all of you is to plunge headlong into preparations for the coming Assembly elections, leaving nothing to chance and attending to every single detail well in advance. Our thrust should be on three main areas:
1: Campaign against the non-performance of Congress governments and in-fighting in the Congress party
We must begin by mounting a powerful people's campaign against the non-performance, misrule, inefficiency, corruption, worsening law and order situation and non-fulfillment of promises, which is in evidence everywhere in Congress-ruled States. We must also expose how the Congress leaders are engrossed more in in-fighting and power struggles than in the development of their States and the welfare of their people.
Examples abound. Both in MP and Rajasthan, poor people are condemned to be victims of hunger and starvation, even though the Centre has provided more than adequate amount of foodgrains. That hunger-related deaths have taken place in the midst of plenty in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan should make the head of every Congressman hang in shame. It is the responsibility of the State Governments to ensure proper implementation of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, which is the most comprehensive and cheapest ever food security scheme for the poorest five crore people in our country, and the Food for Work Programme incorporated into the Sampoorna Rozgar Yojana. However, Congress governments are showing shocking apathy in implementing them.
Atrocities against women, Dalits and other weaker sections have come to be a regular feature in States under the care of Congress Governments. In Jammu & Kashmir, Congress is a party to unacceptable compromises by releasing terrorists.
We see that in MP, the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister are at loggerheads. In Rajasthan, people are thoroughly disillusioned with the non-performance of the Congress Government. In Karnataka, allowing Veerappan to roam, kidnap and kill freely is an example of the State Government's total incompetence. In Kerala, the Government has no money even to pay employees' salaries. Yet, the former Chief Minister and the present Chief Minster are involved in an ugly battle, thus paralyzing the State administration. In Maharashtra, the PCC president regularly fires salvos against his own government - both against the Chief Minister and the NCP, which is an alliance partner. In Assam, the Chief Minister does not seem to be in command at all.
In Chhattisgarh, a former Congress Chief Minister is openly speaking out against the Chief Minister, declaring that this is the most corrupt government he has ever seen. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister is practicing the politics of manipulation and has become infamous for the persecution of the Opposition. Dissatisfaction and dissent is fast brewing in Punjab. The talk of the town in Punjab is that the Congress has a three-point agenda - Badli, Badla and Badal. The Delhi Government has only a one-point agenda: that of forgetting its responsibilities and accusing the Centre everyday for everything.
The deception and double standards of the Congress party are also evident in providing free power before elections in Punjab and giving no power after elections. Now the same party is promising free power in Andhra Pradesh.
Our Party workers must also highlight how the Chief Ministers of Chhattisgarh and Punjab, just to divert people's attention from the non-performance of their own governments, resorted to the most undignified acts of gimmickry in Delhi by holding dharnas and courting arrests in front of the Prime Minister's residence. Never in the history of independent India has such disrespect to the office of the Prime Minister been shown by Chief Ministers. This demonstrates the depth of degeneration in the Congress party's culture.
Our Party workers must seek to emulate the excellent work done by the State BJP Units of Rajasthan and Jharkhand where the party comprehensively won the recent bye-elections. I compliment the State President and other leaders of the party in both states.
2: Campaign against pseudo-secularism and our opponents' indifference to threats to India's national security
Friends, I have said it before and I say it again today. There is no need to be apologetic about our ideology of Cultural Nationalism, nor about our firm commitment to the common agenda of the National Democratic Alliance. Ek Haath Mein BJP Ka Jhanda, Doosre Haath Mein NDA Agenda - that is our line.
We should firmly expose our adversaries' politics of defaming our Party and our ideology, and of compromising on issues that weaken national security. Thus, our Party should campaign for a an effective nationwide law against conversion by fraudulent means. This is not merely an issue that legitimately agitates all Hindus, but it is closely linked to the interests of national integration, national security and social cohesion. Everybody should understand that conversions by fraudulent means are not tolerated in any country. Hence, they cannot be justified under a perverse definition of secularism. The Party has to mobilize strong public opinion to ensure that all State governments pass this law.
I would like to urge the Government to take early steps for scrapping the IMDT in Assam, which has failed to achieve the purpose. Illegal and large-scale influx of Bngladeshis into India is not a Hindu-Muslim question but one that is directly linked to our national unity and national security and national economy. We cannot be unmindful of the growing presence of Al-Qaida in Bangladesh, its links to the ISI, and their sinister designs against India, both in the short-term and long-term.
POTA needs to be effectively used to contain terrorism. The turn of events in Jammu & Kashmir should be an eye opener. Despite the Congress-PDP combine's overtures towards forces speaking for those believing in terrorism, one PDP legislator was killed.
The entire country is relieved at the judgement of the POTA court against the accused in the Black December terrorist attack on Parliament. It is not surprising that voices of protest are being heard from divisive and some pseudo-secular forces. It is amazing that we have leaders and parties who build defences for conspirators involved in this anti-national attack on Parliament. I am at a loss to understand as to how there could be human rights for terrorists who believe in killing innocent people. There cannot be progress without peace. And we cannot have peace in an environment of social tensions, extremism, etc. Terrorism is a challenge that needs to be squarely addressed and that is the message of Gujarat. Terrorism spares none--not innocents, not those who oppose it and certainly not those who are soft on it.
Our Party workers should strongly and unapologetically defend the NCERT's effort to remove the distortions in our school textbooks, introduced in the past by Communist and pseudo-secular intellectuals.
The Gujarat message is loud and clear. The message is that in the name of politically motivated secularism, the countrymen are not willing any more to tolerate either the Hindu-bashing or the double standards being resorted to by certain political parties. For us development is the mantra and hence we believe in ushering in prosperity in an atmosphere of peace.
Today, I would also like to make an appeal to those who speak in the name of Hindutva but whose pronouncements sometimes sound as if they are only reacting to the extremism and intolerance that has taken roots across the border. Hindutva is a noble and elevating concept and as the Supreme Court has rightly declared. The BJP is firm in its belief that Hindutva and extremism cannot go together, Hindutva and intolerance cannot go together. The Supreme Court has in the context stated : "Thus it cannot be doubted, particularly in view of the constitutional bench decision of this court that the words 'Hinduism' and 'Hindutva' are not necessary understood and construed narrowly, centred only to the strict Hindu religious practices unrelated to the culture and ethics of the people of India, the way of life of the Indian people ................. considering the terms "Hinduism" or "Hindutva" per se as depicting hostility, enmity or intolerance towards other religious faiths or professing communalism, proceeds from improper appreciation and perception of the true meaning of these expressions emerging from a detailed discussion in the earlier authorities of this court."
3: Campaign for highlighting the landmark achievements and unique initiatives of the NDA Government
We are indeed happy that under the able leadership of our beloved Prime Minister, the Government rose to the occasion and effectively addressed the problem of drought in several parts of the country. The Government has also taken concrete initiatives in the direction of some far reaching outcomes as in the case of linking of rivers. A Task Force under an able person has already been set up. This long awaited Development project is the crystallization of the will of the nation. Linking of rivers is yet another vindication of our commitment to `Knit India' together. Rapid progress on the Golden Quadrilateral part of the national highway project is being hailed all over the country and abroad. Setting up of Rs.17,000 crore Special Railway Safety Fund, launching of Rs.15,000-crore National Rail Vikas Yojana for strengthening the high density rail network and connectivity with Ports are some of the biggest initiatives since Independence for the development of the long-neglected railway infrastructure. At the same time, I urge the NDA Government to take similar big initiatives in the welfare sector. There is a need to expand the scope of the Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme to cover more crops, more areas and more farmers. Three crore Kisan Credit Cards have already been issued and I urge the Government to ensure coverage of all eligible farmers by March 2004. Raja Rajeswari, Bhagya Shree, Ashray Beema Yojana need to be further popularized. BJP workers have to take active interest in mobilizing and involving the people in these schemes. The Government should also focus attention on the mobilization of additional resources and proper implementation of Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana, a novel project for enhancing rural road connectivity.
The Government should come out at the earliest with a new Constitutional amendment to empower Panchayati Raj and local bodies with effective financial and administrative powers.
Friends, the Central Government has also succeeded in getting the nod of the Parliament for some historic Bills. These include those cracking down heavily on defaulters of bank loans, ensuring the right to information, conferring the right to education on the future hope of our country, as also those relating to electoral reforms and environmental protection. We are proud that we have been able to create a situation in which there is no waiting list, queue, shortage or black market, be it telephone connection, gas connection, cement, sugar or food grains. What I am trying to highlight is that we have done enough to stake claim to the confidence of the people. At the same time there is much more still to be done and so we should never be complacent.
Implement the tasks mandated in Delhi Sankalp
Friends, the three-pronged campaign effort that I have outlined above is externally directed. But we also need to intensify another effort, which should be internally directed. And this is the imperative to strengthen our organization and remove the shortcomings in the functioning of our various State units, district units, and local units. The tasks involved in this regard are set forth in an elaborate manner in the Delhi Sankalp, which we adopted at the National Council meeting in August. I do not wish to reiterate them.
However, the very fact that I am referring to this issue again shows that addressing it - and redressing the maladies in the organization - is critical for achieving our immediate-term and long-term objectives. The serious developments in the legislature Party in UP recently - and similar developments in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka earlier -- have deeply disappointed and distressed our karyakartas as well our supporters. I call upon the Party cadres to always bear in mind that we are a Party with a Difference. Every leader in the Party shall always be guided by the fact that their behaviour has a bearing on the Party. I wish to make it very clear that the Party will come down very heavily against those crossing the Lakshman Rekha.
I, along with the General Secretaries and other office-bearers, have begun the massive exercise of reaching out to the Party workers throughout the country. We have has successful Zonal conferences, direct interaction with District Presidents and State Council meetings as part of the effort to widen our social and political base and to further energise the organization. At this juncture I am happy to state that Gaon Chalo Abhiyan (Go to Villages) has received tremendous response. We need to cover every village in every region before the next round of elections. I am also happy to acknowledge that coordination between the Government and the Party, the Party and the Cadres and the Cadres and the people have significantly improved and it shall provide necessary momentum for further action. As a result of these efforts, our workers have got galvanized all over the country.
Friends, I would like to make it clear that it is not enough to harp on the failures of our opponents. You may also recall that in the last National Council meeting, soon after assuming the Presidentship of the party, I suggested a mid-term appraisal of the performance of the Central Government, so that necessary corrective measures could be taken as warranted. I have also underscored the need for introspection at all levels with a view to improve the health of the Party. I have also mentioned that as a Party we have only traveled half way and have miles to go still. It is necessary for all of us to remember that every individual, institution and political party has to have the necessary ability and honesty to identify and address shortcomings for a focused, well defined and productive journey ahead. I am happy to say that the introspection and evaluation efforts put in by the Party and the Government have begun to yield dividends. We need to carry it forward with enhanced vigour and commitment to achieve our goals.
I would like to once again reiterate that we have only traveled halfway. Our destination is still ahead.