Speech by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu BJP National Council Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi,
October 27, 2004
I stand before you with mixed feelings today.
On the one hand, I am nostalgic. Because, when a certain chapter in one's political life closes and a new chapter begins, it is natural to feel a sense of transition. This is the first and the last time I'll be addressing you as the outgoing President of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
But I am happy too. As happy as all of you that I have passed on the baton to someone who brought me into the Party's central team and who has been as much a source of inspiration and guidance to me as he is to all of you.
People say that Shri Advaniji is 77 years old. The truth is that he still has the energy of a 37 year old. So, in terms of energy levels, Advaniji belongs to the BJP's younger generation of leaders as much as Pramodji or Sushmaji or Arunji or Rajnathji do.
Only a leader of youthful energy could have agreed to handle two major responsibilities -- Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and President of the BJP.
Therefore, I am happy also because the reins of the Party have gone to someone who is not only more experienced, more knowledgeable and more battle-tested than me, but who is also a model to all of us for stamina, hard work and sheer determination.
When the Party had been pushed to the margins with only two seats in 1984, it was his determination that helped the BJP to quickly undertake the journey from a marginal party to India's main party.
Compared to 1984, we are immeasurably stronger today. Therefore, I have no doubt that, under Shri Advaniji's leadership, the BJP will once again undertake a successful journey -- from No. 2 position to No. 1 position.
Friends, I wish to make it clear that the change that has taken place at the Party's helm has nothing to do with the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections or the Maharashtra elections.
I am relinquishing the office of the President for personal reasons. I am doing so also because I had been feeling for quite some time that the Party needs a senior and more experienced leader at its helm at this critical juncture.
The smooth manner in which the transition has taken place has once again established the BJP as a Party with a Difference.
Everybody in the Party -- from Atalji and Advaniji to all my office-bearers -- persuaded me to continue. But when I stood firm, they accepted my request and showed the kind of understanding that is unthinkable in any other party.
There was never a single moment of bitterness. There was never a single scene of intrigue.
Everything was done in a collective manner, in an open and transparent manner.
I would like my Party colleagues at all levels to feel pride at this uniquely democratic -- almost family-type -- atmosphere in which we are meeting today.
Dear Colleagues, my mind is full of memories today. It was in the same Talkatora Stadium that, just over two years ago, you had made me the President of the BJP. I had said in my speech then that I came into the Party as an ordinary karyakarta, as a soldier in service of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whom I had not yet met. Even when I was the President, I was still a karyakarta in my heart.
Today, as I relinquish my office, I once again go back to be a karyakarta.
This again is unique to the BJP. This again shows how we are indeed a party with a difference.
This is a party in which one does not have to belong to a dynasty to become its president. Even an ordinary karyakarta can get the highest responsibility in the party.
This is another reason for my happiness today. The Party gave me everything. And, in turn, I tried to give my best to the party.
All that I am today is because of the Party.
Therefore, my parting message to all of you is to always keep in mind one principle: DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT WHAT THE PARTY HAS GIVEN YOU.
ASK WHAT YOU HAVE GIVEN TO THE PARTY.
Today I want to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to all my colleagues who worked with me during the past 27 months. I carry happy memories of many important initiatives and programmes that we together launched for the expansion and development of the Party.
The 'Gaon Chalo Abhiyan' helped us to strengthen the Party's rural orientation. The several Zonal Conferences that we organised provided a good platform for inner-party interaction. Together, my colleagues and I tried to improve dialogue and coordination with all the nationalist organisations. I am happy that these efforts yielded good results.
I am especially satisfied at our efforts to catalyse serious chintan at all levels in the Party on both long-term and immediate-term challenges before the BJP. I am convinced that the 'TASKS AHEAD' document, which has been circulated to all of you, can be a very useful basis for inner-party brainstorming and corrective action at all levels in the Party.
On the electoral front, there were ups and downs. Our victories in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh considerably increased the BJP's strength.
In Orissa, we were successful in returning to power in alliance with the BJD.
In Karnataka, we emerged as the Number 1 party in the Assembly.
In Arunachal, although the government is no longer in our hands, it is a matter of pride for our Party that, for the first time, we have won as many as nine seats by contesting the recent Assembly elections on our own. .
We have also succeeded in the by-elections in Gujarat and Goa.
However, as I said, along with these ups, we have faced some downs too. The outcome of the Parliamentary elections was completely against our expectations. The outcome of the recent Assembly elections in Maharashtra has also disappointed us.
I am sure that all of you are engaged in atma-manthan in your own way. But the one lesson that I have learnt from these elections is that GOOD GOVERNANCE DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY RESULT IN RE-ELECTION.
Similarly, BAD GOVERNANCE DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THAT THE PARTY OR THE COALITION IN POWER LOSES THE ELECTION.
This does not mean that Good Governance and focus on Development are not necessary. But they are not sufficient. They alone cannot ensure victory.
From the point of view of good governance and development, the six years of the NDA Government, led by our beloved leader Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, constitute one of the best periods in independent India's history. Shri Atalji was one of the best Prime Ministers this country has had.
I earnestly appeal to all of you and all workers of the Party to take pride in the unique achievements and initiatives of the Vajpayee government and continuously propagate them among the people.
Yes, our government was very good. Yet, when the Lok Sabha elections were held, we suffered in several crucial states on account of some totally different factors.
Similarly, on the criteria of good governance and development, the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra ought to have been rejected outright. It was one of the worst governments, most non-performing governments the state has seen.
Yet, our opponents won. Several factors are responsible for this unexpected outcome, but good performance by the government is certainly not one of them.
Bihar and West Bengal are the other two examples of the disconnect between good governance and electoral performance.
Friends, our Party has to think about this aspect very seriously. At the Mumbai meeting of the National Executive, Shri Advaniji had said that we need to combine GOOD GOVERNANCE with PRUDENT POLITICS.
I will add one more element. We need a combination of GOOD GOVERNANCE, PRUDENT POLITICS and STRONG, FIGHTING-FIT ORGANISATION.
I have been an organisation man for most parts of my political life. Therefore, I consider organisation-strengthening to be one of the most important tasks before the Party.
How do we strengthen the organisation?
The answer is contained in four words: BACK TO THE BASICS, which I said in my speech at the Mumbai National Executive.
It means, DISCIPLINE.
It means, COLLECTIVITY AND TEAM WORK.
It means, CLOSE INTERACTION WITH THE KARYAKARTAS.
It means, CONSTANT TRAVEL AND REACHING OUT BY OUR LEADERS.
It means, TAKING UP PEOPLE'S ISSUES, especially of the kisans, rural people and all the deprived people.
It means, as I have often said, adoption of the mantra: NATION FIRST, PARTY NEXT AND SELF LAST.
Friends, I have no doubt that the future of the Party is bright. But we will have to strive within ourselves and struggle among the people to regain the brightness again.
In this effort, I am always ready to do my duty as a soldier of the Party.
Friends, we now have the stewardship of Shri Advaniji. We will continue to have the guidance of our beloved leader, Shri Atalji. We have a many able and talented leaders at the centre and in different states. We have lakhs of dedicated karyakartas. Above all, we have the trust and goodwill of millions of people in this great nation of ours.
Therefore, I have no doubt that the future is bright for the BJP.
I have no doubt that our Party will come back.
"The meeting of the Office Bearers and available members of the National Executive, which took place on October 18, 2004, accepted the resignation of Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu and entrusted the responsibility of presidentship to Shri L.K. Advani. The National Council of the BJP, meeting in New Delhi on October 27, 2004, unanimously endorses this decision and hereby elects Shri L.K. Advani as the new President of the Party for a period of three years. The National Council also authorises him to take necessary decisions about the constitution of the new National Executive and the appointment of new Office Bearers."