BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY National Executive Meeting
Presidential Address By Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu
Hyderabad -- January 11, 2004
I extend a warm welcome to all of you here in Hyderabad.
The National Executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party is meeting in the joyous afterglow of our resounding victories in the recently concluded Assembly elections. What political pundits had called the electoral “Semi-Finals” has resulted in the BJP trouncing the Congress in three out of four States where it was in power, and the NDA demolishing it in four out of five States that went to the polls. The BJP has formed its governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh. The Mizo National Front, which is a part of the NDA, has formed the government in Mizoram.
The only consolation for the Congress in its hour of humiliation has been its success in retaining its government in Delhi, albeit with a reduced majority.
Ingredients of a successful election strategy
I heartily congratulate each and every worker of the BJP in the States that went to the polls, and also the State units that enthusiastically lent a helping hand, for this great victory. We raised the right issues, which touched the lives of the common people in the respective States, and carried out a sustained and systematic mass campaign on these issues. We successfully exposed the utter failure of the incumbent Congress governments to fulfill their promises on such basic needs as bijlee, sadak and paani, and thereby channelised the people’s anger against the Congress in the direction for change.
We also effectively highlighted the many landmark achievements and initiatives of the NDA Government at the Centre, which enabled the people to see the sharp contrast between the anti-people and anti-development balance sheet of the Congress and the pro-people and pro-development track record of the BJP. In this sense, our victory in MP, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh was not merely on strength of the anti-incumbency vote; rather, it was also a positive vote in favour of the BJP and a mark of popular support for Shri Vajpayee’s Government at the Centre.
What contributed to our electoral success was also a set of other crucial factors: enormous hard work for a prolonged period, meticulous planning, its proper execution, able guidance by leaders at all levels and perfect coordination between the Centre and State units of the Party. We received proper margdarshan from Shri Atalji and Shri Advaniji at every stage of the campaign. Shri Atalji’s mammoth election meetings made a big difference to the final tally in the three States.
I would especially like to place on record, with deepest appreciation, the stupendous hard work put in by the three Chief Ministers, and the presidents and office-bearers of the Party in the States that went to polls.
Congress party, facing an uncertain future
Friends, what happened in the recent Assembly elections is not a simple victory for the BJP and the NDA, nor is it an ordinary defeat for the Congress. Never in the past has the morale of the leaders as well as the rank and file of the Congress been shattered so badly. The situation, as far as the Congress is concerned, can perhaps only be compared with its thumping defeat in the 1977 general elections after the lifting of the Emergency Rule. However, although the Congress was utterly demoralized then, it did not face any uncertainty over its very future. Unlike now, there was no strong and cohesive national party that could challenge its dominance of Indian politics.
Now, for the first time in its 119-year-old history, under its present leadership, the Congress party is worried about its very survival. A prominent newsmagazine recently described its president’s unparalleled achievement for the party with a striking cover-title: “Honey, I Shrunk the Congress!”, taking off on the title of a popular comedy film “Honey, I Shrunk the Kid!”
This is what has happened to the Congress: its mass base has shrunk, its prestige has shrunk, its capacity to effectively intervene in the affairs of the nation has shrunk, and the credibility of its leadership has shrunk. The Congress is today a party without unity, without clarity, without ability, and without acceptance among the people.
2003: A good year for India and the BJP
Dear Colleagues, the year 2003 was very good to the country and to the BJP. In addition to annexing three big States from the Congress, we have also dealt confidence-shattering blows to the Congress in several by-elections – notably in the Sholapur parliamentary by-election and the Songadh Assembly by-election. Although we have improved our position in Delhi, our failure to defeat the Congress was certainly disappointing. Our colleagues in Delhi must dispassionately analyse the reasons for this failure and apply quick correctives, so that we are able to repeat our splendid performance in the forthcoming parliamentary polls.
The formation of a BJP Government in Arunachal Pradesh was another important gain for the Party in 2003. Our influence in the North-East is steadily growing. We have gained many friends in the region. We are Party in Nagaland government. The Congress is rapidly getting marginalized. Our Government has succeeded in strengthening the atmosphere of peace, normalcy and development in the North-East. I urge our Party workers in the region to make the best use of this situation to brighten the prospects of the BJP and its allies in the coming elections.
2003 was a great year for the Party for yet another reason. The regularity and depth of interaction between the Party and the Government at all levels increased further. The Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have always given us time whenever we needed to discuss party related matters with them. They have also taken the party into confidence on all major public issues. Our colleagues in the Government have always been receptive to suggestions and feedback from the Party. I am happy to note that the interaction between the Party leadership and the cadre, both at the center and in the states, has improved. Interaction between the BJP and the fraternal parties in the NDA has also increased. I hope that the Chief Ministers and the party presidents in the states where the BJP is in power will follow this useful practice.
The holding of a three-day Chintan Baithak in Mumbai in July last year was a major milestone in the Party’s history. It helped us to carry out an in-depth review of the performance of both the Party and the Government. I am happy to inform the National Executive that the Government has accepted and implemented most of the ideas and suggestions that were presented at the Chintan Baithak.
In this context, I warmly congratulate Finance Minister Shri Jaswant Singhji for his bold set of announcements early this week, giving a boost to many sectors of the economy. They have further brightened the Feel Good atmosphere in the country. The Finance Minister deserves special praise for announcing a Rs. 50,000-crore fund for infrastructure projects, including rural infrastructure.
Organizational elections have been successfully concluded in 22 States. These were held in a cordial atmosphere and the office bearers were elected unanimously. Other States are yet to complete their organizational elections.
In year 2003 we undertook several novel programmes such as Samarpan, Sahyog and Samvad to activate the organizational network at all levels. This yielded desired results. I can see that there is an increased sense of involvement now. Union Ministers, despite their busy schedules, have put in expected efforts as and when asked by the Party.
In this sense, we have re-learnt an old lesson, which is at the core of the organizational philosophy of the BJP. Ours is a party of karyakartas. They are the heart and soul of our Party. We must care for them, we must listen to them, we must encourage them, we must guide them, and we must give them the opportunity to involve themselves fully in the activities of the Party. We are also a party that believes in team work, that believes in camaraderie among office bearers. We can achieve best possible results only through constant interaction. I have tried to promote this to the best of my abilities.
India’s spectacular progress under the NDA Government
Dear colleagues, I said earlier that the year 2003 was good both for the country and for the Party. I described how it has been good for the Party. As far as the country is concerned, all of you are aware of how good the year has been. India’s economy is booming. Ours is among the fastest growing economies of the world. Food production is steadily growing. With this year’s good monsoon we can expect our hard working kisans to achieve better results. Our successes in the manufacturing sector, coupled with our continued successes in Information Technology, are attracting global attention and applause. The rupee is becoming stronger. Our foreign exchange reserves have crossed the $ 100 billion level.
The various developmental initiatives started by our Government have begun to yield results. Their fruits are now becoming visible. The best examples of this are the National Highway Development Project, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Antyodaya Anna Yojana, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Kisan Credit Card scheme, and our shining successes in the telecom sector. Recently, we have launched the Artisan Credit Card scheme to benefit crores of workers in the handloom and handicraft sectors. The important decision we took for the welfare and empowerment of SCs and STs have also been highly appreciated.
I must mention here that India’s achievements on the foreign policy front have truly been unprecedented. The entire world has come to recognize Shri Atalji as a statesman par excellence. Under his leadership, India’s stature in the world has risen enormously. His latest foreign policy success has been his historic visit to Islamabad where he provided visionary leadership both to the 12th SAARC Summit as well as to the breaking of ice in the frozen relations between India and Pakistan.
It must be noted here that, as far as Indo-Pak relations are concerned, our Government has achieved this breakthrough without compromising on our fight against cross-border terrorism. Indeed it is Pakistan which had to give a commitment that it will not allow anybody to use its territory for terrorist activities against India.
The outcome of the Prime Minister’s visit to Islamabad has created a groundswell of hope and goodwill both in India and Pakistan, and in the entire sub-continent. It is now being felt by one and all that whereas the Congress governments created and aggravated the Kashmir problem, Shri Atalji and his Government alone can resolve this problem.
This expectation is also buttressed by the rapid return of peace and normalcy in J & K, following the historic free and fair elections in that State in October 2002.
Transform Party’s Campaign into a People’s Campaign
It is now the responsibility of the Party and the government to intensify their communication activities to reach the message of India’s all-round progress to the masses. I would like both the Party machinery and the government machinery to accelerate the tempo of publicity. There is already a “Feel Good Factor in the country. We should endeavour to make it a Feel Great Factor.
The people of India are already desirous of bringing back Shri Atalji’s government because of its strong performance. It should now be our endeavour to convert this desire into a firm resolve, cutting across the barriers of politics, region, religion, caste, class, language and gender, and embracing even those sections which have somewhat remained from BJP so far. In other words, we should transform our election campaign from a party’s campaign into a peoples’ campaign.
We should especially make all-out efforts to reach out to the youth. Let us generate a massive thinking process among all sections of society, especially among the youth, focused on the theme of “Their 50 Years Vs. Our 5 Years”. Let us pose the question: “Why did India lag behind in development, in spite of being blessed by an ancient civilization, perennial rivers, fertile land, hard working people, skilled artisans, good professionals, great intellect, and vast human resources? Why did India lag behind, when even smaller nations in Asia marched ahead in a spectacular manner? The Congress with its wrong priorities, unsound policies, misgovernance and corrupt practices more or less wasted the nearly fifty years that it was at the helm. In contrast, the NDA has been able to achieve so much in such a short time. This being the case, why should the Congress be supported to disturb this new beginning?”
Our priorities for the next five years
We should also boldly explain what our priorities and plans are for the coming five years. A stronger attack on poverty, a faster ending of regional disparities, bridging the urban-rural divide, creation of employment and self-employment opportunities on a far larger-scale, taking up for implementation ambitious projects such as the River-Linking Project, a massive effort at improving primary healthcare, primary education, drinking water and sanitation and other social sector services, making agriculture profitable even for small and poor farmers, revival of small scale and cottage industries, social justice and economic empowerment of our SC, ST, OBC and Most BC brethren, gender justice and further empowerment of women, effective steps for population control, further decentralization of powers to Panchayati Raj Institutions – these will be our priorities.
If I can be candid in saying so, our priority in the coming years will be to enable that underdeveloped part of India, and that underdeveloped section of Indian society, to shine as brightly as the developed one that is doing so today.
I propose to set up a committee of Party functionaries and experts who are our well-wishers to prepare a Vision Document for the coming five years.
Reach out to new sections of society
Friends, I urge all of you, and I urge each and every worker of BJP, to carry the message of all these historic achievements and landmark initiatives of the NDA Government, as well our vision for the future, to every nook and corner in this country. We should intensify our efforts to reach out to those sections of our diverse society that have so far remained away from us. That news social classes are willing to support the BJP became strikingly clear in the recent Assembly elections, when tribals rejected the Congress with a vengeance and voted for our candidates.
In this context, I especially urge you to reach out to our minority sisters and brothers, who have seen through the self-serving propaganda against the BJP conducted by the Congress and other opposition parties. I also appeal to our minority brethren: “Boldly cross the mental barrier of hesitation, vote for the BJP and strengthen Shri Atalji’s leadership. You have nothing to lose, except the false notions created by our opponents. However, you have much to gain from India’s faster and more broad-based development under our government.”
Create a Wave in favour of the BJP and NDA
We should create – indeed, we can create – a big wave of popular support in favour of the BJP and the NDA. This will enable us to secure a renewed and much larger mandate, which is our goal for Mission 2004. As Shri Advaniji has repeatedly told us, the BJP has not yet reached a saturation level. Look back at where we were in 1984. We had only 2 seats in the Lok Sabha then. In each of the subsequent election we have continued to surprise both our opponents and ourselves by increasing our tally. We can do it yet again.
Our biggest asset is our leadership. Shri Atalji has emerged as the tallest Indian leader in modern times. He is widely hailed as the “Great Unifier”. He is seen as an exemplary practitioner of the Coalition Dharma, due to which he has made the NDA the first functioning model of Political Unity in Ideological Diversity. We have a strong track record performance during the past five years. We have established our credibility as a reliable party among our partners and together with them found a cohesive alliance. We have a vast organizational network. More and more sections of India society, in more and more regions of our vast country, are willing to support us.
The contrast with the Congress and the rest of the opposition is stark. The opposition is disunited. It is leaderless. Which is why I have said that in the coming elections the choice before the people is Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee versus ?. In their inability to unite under the leadership of the Congress and their refusal to accept its president as a prime ministerial candidate, the opposition parties are toying with the comical idea of forming two platforms to defeat the NDA. They will not succeed. Clearly the advantage lies with the BJP and the NDA. We succeeded in Operation 2003. Let us now get ready to make Mission 2004 a grander success.
This is the message that I would like all of us to carry from Hyderabad. I call upon our karyakartas to “Reach every village, Walk every street, Knock at every door, and Talk to every voter”. All of us have to work with complete unity at all levels. All of us have to work overtime. We should be driven by a winning instinct. Needless to add, BJP Chief Ministers have to accelerate the developmental work of their governments. We should not get distracted by anything. Like the Arjuna taking aim at the eye of the bird, and seeing nothing else in the surroundings, we should aim at success in Mission 2004.
Resources are very crucial for the election campaign. I propose that we set up a Chunav Sahay Nidhi as a one-time measure for collecting contributions for the campaign. People can offer Rs. 10,000, Rs. 5,000 or Rs. 1,000. This amount will be accepted only through cheque. The names of all the donors will be declared on the Party’s website for transparency. I suggest that this be made into a nationwide campaign.
I would like the National Executive to consider and approve an Action Plan for Mission 2004. I would like the General Secretaries to prepare a detailed Calendar of Programmes before the formal start of the election process.
Let us march for the Battle. Victory is ours!