BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY
National Executive Meeting
Presidential Address By Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu
Indore -- April 04, 2003
It is my pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to all the Members of the National Executive, which is meeting at the confluence of historical achievements of NDA Government and significant challenges ahead for the BJP. The bouquet of achievements includes the completion of five years in office at a stretch by the NDA Government led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Our Government has made a significant contribution to all round progress of the country by imparting the much-required political stability and laying concrete foundations for launching the country on course to realize its full potential. The challenges for the BJP centre around the crucial elections ahead. We have to take up necessary course corrections to enable the Party to come out with flying colours.
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has acquired the distinction of being the first non-Congress Prime Minister for five years at a stretch and NDA under his leadership the first non-Congress political formation to do so. This is significant for various reasons. It has thoroughly exposed two myths propagated by the Congress party: One, that coalition governance at the Centre cannot be stable; and two, that the BJP cannot provide proper leadership to a multi-party coalition and the supporting parties in the NDA cannot rally behind the BJP for long. It is a moment of glory and joy for all of us in the BJP. Our party has played an effective role in providing political stability in the backdrop of crumbling of several Governments at the Centre in quick succession raising serious doubts about the political stability in the country.
We must recall the backdrop and the circumstances in which we came to power at the Centre. Erosion in the economy, a saga of scarcities, the growing monster of terrorism, derailed reforms programme, governance without focus, general directionless in matters of state and polity were the hallmark of the legacy given to us when we took over the reigns in 1998. Above all, there was a big question mark about the ability of NDA to survive as a cohesive political formation. It is a matter of great satisfaction that we have been able to bring about a radical change in the depressing scenario and position the country as a confident, capable, cohesive entity yearning to get its due place at the beginning of the 21st century. We can now proudly proclaim that there are no more long and unwinding queues, no waiting lists, no black market and no shortages whether it is for a phone, LPG connection, milk, sugar, food grains, cement etc.
Before I proceed further towards directing your attention to the issues and challenges staring at our party I would like to place on record as the President of BJP my deep appreciation and gratitude to our Prime Minister and beloved leader Shri Vajpayeeji for his sagacious and statesmanly leadership under which the NDA flourished like a blooming flower.
This meeting of the National Executive comes in the wake of four important political events the implications of which all of us must be fully aware of.
1. Gains in Jammu & Kashmir in peril
The recent killing of 24 Kashmiri Pandits has shocked the nation once again. Even as the countrymen were drawing immense satisfaction from the peaceful and successful conduct of elections to the State Legislative Assembly which was also acknowledged by the international public opinion, the gruesome killing of innocent people has raised serious doubts about the policy being followed by the PDP Government of which the Congress party is a major partner. The `healing touch' policy met with its nemesis sooner than expected. Who needs the healing touch? Isn't it the bereaved families of the Armed Forces and Security personnel and the large number of innocents who were massacred that deserved it more than the militants who are being addressed by this policy?
Militancy by the local elements has significantly come down in the recent years though the cross-border terrorism was continuing to manifest itself. When the situation was apparently improving the Special Action Group was disbanded. Army and the Para-military Forces, who have been sacrificing a great deal, have been made the focus of misguided criticism which is threatening to demoralize them. It is being increasingly asked if this is a policy of `reciprocity' being adopted by the PDP Government. A Legislator has been shot dead, Abdul Majid Dar was killed and Kashmiri Pandits are again becoming the objects of gruesome killing. Fear psychosis is being sought to be perpetrated again. This is a matter of serious concern for us.
In the unsavoury unfolding of events under the PDP role, what is particularly worrisome is the role of the Congress Party. The Congress which is supposed to be guided by a degree of enlightened national responsibility is unfortunately becoming a party to squandering away of the gains of successful conduct of elections in the State. The manner and the turn out in the elections were an eloquent testimony to the demand the aspirations of the people of the State for reconstruction of the economy of the State and through it, their own lives for a better future marking a break from the past. However, the short-sighted approach of the Congress is negating the will and aspirations of the people of the State. It is time the Congress party reviewed its Kashmir policy failing which they would be doing a great disservice to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and also of the State. I would like to warn the Congress party that it would be held accountable for the consequences of the deteriorating situation in Jammu & Kashmir.
2. Iraq War
The US war on Iraq and its consequences are agitating the minds of the people. The NDA Government and the country as such have made it clear that the war has no justification. Of particular concern is the marginalisation of United Nations Organisation in the whole course of events. The country's foreign policy is always guided by national interest. On such a matter of international ramification, the Government has made its position clear. The war must be brought to an end at the earliest. The United Nations shall reassert itself and do the needful to prevent any further loss of lives of civilians by bringing the war to an end.
3. Denigration of the Heroes of Independence
The Congress party and their new-found allies have sought to create an unnecessary controversy over the unveiling of the portrait of Veer Savarkar in the Central Hall of Parliament. This is nothing but a manifestation of the political philosophy and approach of pseudo-secularists who were always guided by vote bank politics. Veer Savarkar besides being a revolutionary freedom fighter was also a poet, historian and social reformer. It is disgusting that such a person of eminence is being sought to be projected in a poor light for short-term political considerations.
Our country's struggle for independence was a combination of different contrasting and complimentary movements. It was a coalition of different philosophies and approaches, but guided by the common goal of liberating the motherland from the yoke of foreign rule. The freedom movement had thrown up several leaders and heroes who made stellar sacrifices. We should not allow our political differences to denigrate any of them. Every freedom fighter has to be revered. To present to the future generations of our country only one sided account of the great freedom struggle would amount to denigrating the saga of struggle and sacrifice. The unveiling of Veer Savarkar's portrait has to be seen in this context. The ill-considered actions of Congress and other opposition parties in making a hue and cry over the portrait of Veer Savarkar deserves to be strongly condemned.
4. Himachal Pradesh and the road ahead
We are going to face elections for four State Legislative Assemblies to be followed by the General Elections to the Lok Sabha in the next 15 months. Any election is a major challenge for any political party. To approach the coming electoral challenge in a meaningful manner we have to draw lessons from the Himachal Pradesh elections and prepare for the future.
I would like to make it clear that we have not lost in Himachal Pradesh on merits. In spite of good performance by the BJP Government in the State, we have failed in reaping electoral dividends. In my view this is a classic case for our party to learn right lessons so that we don't lose out by default any more. The standards of discipline in the Himachal Unit led the party down badly. Our loss in Himachal Pradesh was sought to be interpreted by our adversaries as a defeat of Hindutva. I can only say that whoever feels so is living in fools' paradise. Hindutva for us is not an electoral issue to be negotiated in political battle fields. Cultural nationalism is our life-line and Hindutva is the soul of India.
Though we lost in Himachal, the party has gained significant ground in the North-East. BJP's penetration in recent Assembly elections in Nagaland has come as a proof of our party reaching new horizons among new regions and social groups. The outright rejection of Congress in Nagaland has come as the much deserved slap for the pseudo-secularists. Our success in Nagaland is also an acknowledgement of the people's welcoming response to the peace initiatives launched in earnestness by the Vajpayee Government. I compliment the people of Nagaland, the leaders and workers of our State Party Unit for the new message they put out.
Challenges and Correctives
Our journey from the past into the future have to be marked by clear introspection and concrete correctives. Obviously, discipline should be at the top of the agenda. Party has to take firm initiatives to curb indiscipline. We shall always remind ourselves that while performance of the Government provides the right launching pad to pluck the fruits, it is the discipline of the leaders and workers that makes the difference.
I would like to invite the attention of all the leaders and workers to the Delhi Pledge of August 3, 2002. Strict adherence to the Pledge only would help us walk on the path of dedication, discipline, determination and dynamism. We must intervene with necessary correctives and in good time at all levels. I am sure the Executive will join me in pursuing strict adherence to the Code of Conduct set for ourselves. If the individuals do not mend their ways by themselves, Party will have to step in.
Favourable situation in four States going to the polls
We are going to plunge into election mode. The four States going for Assembly polls are ruled by our principal adversary, the Congress. I am sure the leaders and workers in these States have a thorough measure of the public mood in respective States. It is marked by disillusionment and disenchantment. The record of Congress Governments in these States is one of non-performance, misrule, inefficiency, corruption, atrocities on weaker sections and women, deteriorating law and order situation and to top it all the saga of failed promises. It is shocking to hear reports of people suffering from hunger despite the liberal assistance being extended by the NDA Government without any political discrimination for meeting the drought and other adverse situations. These States are also lagging behind the national average in terms of critical parameters like literacy, health care, housing, self-help groups, connectivity and poverty.
A situation that is extremely conducive for the BJP is prevailing in the States and it is for the leaders and cadres of our party to properly channelise the people's anger and frustration. What is required is effective articulation of people's disillusionment with the Congress into resounding victories for the BJP. This in turn requires our State Units to put up a united fight. Being aware of their failures and the gravity of the situation, the Chief Ministers of these States have begun to resort to dirty tricks to divert the attention of the people. Gimmicks like appointment of Deputy Chief Ministers and resorting to the so-called soft Hindutva line, etc., are being resorted to. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister went to the extent of suggesting a ban on cow slaughter, though the Congress high command is still struggling in confusion on this issue. The Congress stooped to the lowest by resorting to malign even the Prime Minister by releasing some pamphlets. They had to subsequently disown the campaign under public outrage against such dirty tricks.
The worse is that the Madhya Pradesh Government has planned the greatest electoral scam ever by resorting to scientific rigging through manipulation of voter lists. When it became public the State Government had no defence and the Chief Minister tried to put up a meek one without any success. The State Government is going to go to any extent to protect the officials concerned, because these officials could not have committed such gross irregularities without specific instructions from their political leaders. I wish to ask the Congress party's national leadership: "Why are you silent about this electoral scam?" I also urge our colleagues in the Party's State unit to intensify the mass campaign against the Chief Minister and take it to its logical end.
The Rajasthan Government is a classic case of how an ineffective State Government can nullify the advantages of liberal assistance from the Central Government. No Central Government has ever offered so much of assistance to a State Government as the NDA Government did in the case of Rajasthan to mitigate the adverse consequences of drought. There are reports of hunger-related deaths and large scale migration of people.
The Congress party advertises Chhattisgarh as a model State led by an ideal Chief Minister. As with most of its other claims, the truth is quite the opposite. The Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh has perfected the politics of defection, deception and manipulation. Misuse of the governmental machinery for partisan political gains has become the norm. Developmental activities have been totally neglected. There is intense disenchantment within the Congress party over Chief Minister's the style of functioning. The spectacular response to the Kisan Rally organized by the BJP recently is proof that the people are waiting to teach the ruling party a lesson in the coming Assembly elections.
The record of the Congress government in Delhi is one of broken promises and all-round failure. The problems of power and water scarcity have become worse than before. Whatever improvement in civic amenities on sees in the national capital, such as the inauguration of Phase 1 of Metro Rail project, is due to the focused attention and assistance provided by the Centre.
This is only an illustrative account of the hopeless state of affairs in the States going to the polls towards the end of this year. In this context our party units have to mount an aggressive campaign. I am happy with the preparations made so far in the four States. We now have to move on to a focused campaign. I would urge the State Units to draw up detailed programmes for laying bare the misrule in these States in the eyes of the public.
The battle in the four States has to be taken as a semi-final for the final onslaught for 300 Lok Sabha seats for our party in the General Elections next year. This is possible given our record of achievements and the directionless ways among the Opposition parties.
Congress and the great betrayal
Being aware of the impending defeat in the elections, the Congress party has now suddenly remembered 'the poor'. Having extended a propping hand to the rich for all the 47 years of their rule at the center, they now realize the virtue of being with the poor. The saga of long Congress rule is nothing but a 'great betrayal'. Having been let down very badly all these years, the poor are not willing to be cheated once again by the Congress. Abhee tak ameer ke saath; Chunaav ke mode pe gareeb ko haath; Chunaav ke baad phir se vishwaasghaat - this has been the Congress party's tract record vis-à-vis the poor. The Congress leaders should at least now realize that the people of country are wise enough to see through their games. The Congress rule is singularly responsible for regional disparities, unemployment, poverty, terrorism and in nutshell for all the ills plaguing our nation. I am happy that Congress has publicly acknowledged that they did not do enough for the poor during their long rule when they were pre-occupied with the rich. The Congress also seems to have forgotten their great journey on the path of corruption. The credit for institutionalization of corruption entirely goes to Congress. Like the demon citing Vedic verses the Congress is now shedding crocodile tears when the BJP and NDA are fighting corruption in all its forms and manifestations.
The conduct of opposition in the Parliament during the last five years is a matter of serious concern for any genuine votary of democracy. They have no courage to face the truth and so scuttle the debates by disrupting the Parliament. They have always resorted to "spit and run" policy. This is best illustrated by their imaginary allegations about the so-called "coffin" scam. They did not mind lowering the prestige of the Parliament. Why do they do so? It is because they are not able to digest the fact of the BJP being able to effectively lead the largest ever coalition in the country for so long. The Opposition has no common agenda. They pose for photos one day and start opposing each other the next day. They unite by the evening and part by the morning. They fight against each other in Tripura, West Bengal and Kerala and pretend to be together in Delhi.
The Opposition is also doing a great disservice to the nation by continuing with their double standards and negativism on issues of larger national concern. Kashmir, Kargil, terrorism, POTA, infiltration, country's security streamlining school curriculum, religious conversions, Godhra and the unfortunate happenings in its aftermath, and reforms are some of the many issues that the Opposition do not mind compromising with the national interest for political gains. It pains me to hear from some of the political commentators that the country never had such an Opposition marked by lack of direction. They also say that it is good for the BJP. On this I don't agree with them because we believe that democracy needs an effective and vibrant opposition. I dare the Congress to point out one issue on which it has adopted a constructive approach in the national interest.
The NDA Government has done well so far on several counts. The Party is happy that the Government has positively responded to our suggestion on the issue of fertilizer subsidy. I compliment the Finance Minister Shri Jaswant Singh for his response in this regard. I also appreciate the Government for responding in an exemplary manner in respect of drought management in several States. I, however, feel that there is a need for clear directions to the banks on the issue of interest waiver and better monitoring of drought relief operations. The Party suggests the Government to -
l Prepare a Special Package for Kashmiri Pandits covering housing, employment, self-employment, health-care and other social security needs.
l Scrap IMDT Act as it failed to serve any useful purpose.
l Facilitate national legislation against cow slaughter to protect cow and its progeny, which are a part of the valuable national wealth.
l Initiate national debate on the need for expeditious population control programmes based on incentives and disincentives.
l Accord due recognition and status to all Indian languages.
During the remaining 15 months the Government shall focus more on speedy implementation of various on-going developmental and welfare programmes through effective monitoring and constant review. While the Government would do its best, it is for the leaders and workers of the party to relate with the people effectively by becoming symbols and hopes of their aspirations. I call upon the Legislators of the BJP and also of the NDA partners and supporting parties to be on constant alert to ensure that the gains of various pro-people programmes reached the masses and be in dialogue with the people about our concern for them. The Party needs to focus its attention on sustained campaign on the following issues:
l Need for effective action on terrorism by state governments.
l Need for Three-D Formula on infiltration i.e. Detection, Deletion and Deportation.
l NCERT Curriculum.
l Need for Anti-Conversion Law in all states.
l Need for ban on cow slaughter.
l Effective measures for population control.
Major challenges lie ahead. We shall meet them effectively and unitedly.
Let us move on with confidence.
Victory is ours and the future is ours.